Wine Touring in Piemonte: Where to stay and eat

From Rustic to Fancy: A taste of Piemonte

 


As many of you know, I  travel extensively through the Piemonte region of Italy, home to Barolo, Barbaresco, white truffles and so much more. I get to experience so much while I am there and it's now time to share some of my recommendations so that you can see Piemonte like an insider.

I have broken down these travel tips into three groups and have listed some of the best best for visiting the region in each. To begin with we'll be taking a look at some of the best bets for accomadations, including some of my favorite "under the radar" spots.

I've also included a list of the finest restaurants in the region for a truly authentic Piemontese experience. These may not be the most famous, and while you may not find them in every guidebook thay are certainly tops in mine.

I'll be following up next week with a list of does and don'ts for winery visits as well as tips on who to visit for the best tours and experiences in the Langhe. One standout among the entries actually falls in each category. The Hotel Barolo, Ristorante Brezza and Cantina Brezza are all among my favorites!

What to expect: Piemonte

The Villages of Barolo and Barbaresco are surprisingly small, so it should come as no surprise that the feel of the region remains decidely rural. There are significant distances to drive if you want to cover much ground, so a car is a necessity, and a GPS a good investment. Expect a slow pace of life for most of the year, and a lifestyle that revolves around the cycle of the vine. The food of Piemonte is some of the best in Italy, but expect to see the same dishes frequently.
My tastes may run to the ordinary in many ways, but let me just start out by saying there is a place and a time for everything. I have stayed in the Langhe for as short as three days and as long as three weeks, each time staying at a different accommodation.

When staying there for long periods of time it only makes sense for me to find more modest accommodations. After all I spend most of my day out visiting wineries and really only need a desk, good bed, and nice bathroom to make my evenings pleasant.

Below please find my list of recommendations.

Options abound across all price point for both Dining and Accomodations alike.

Agriturismos, Hotels and B&B's abound
Piemonte is rife with great accommodations that run the gamut from the quaint to the most luxurious. Agriturismos, rooms rented out in farmhouses, as well as properies amongst the vines, are affordable and a great way to really connect with the locals. More upscale accomadations can be more convenient and amenity filled.

Osteria, Trattoria, Ristorante; Whats in a name?
What's the difference? An Osteria was originally an inn for travelers to rest their bones and to dine simply. It remains the simplest of your dining options, generally with a limited menu. Trattorias are frequently family run and feature a region's local cuisine. Ristorante are a step up in service, style and cuisine.

Casa Roagna- Castiglione Falletto

This lovely, quiet, and modern agriturismo has provided me with a several wonderful evenings. It’s located in, or more accurately below the village of Castiglione Falletto. When I last visited however, the property was in the midst of construction, as a new winery building is being added directly below the agritur.

Agriturismo Albachiara – La Morra 
A classic Italian home that has been converted into a guest house, Albachiara offers modern baths, spacious rooms and wonderful balconies that have a stunning view out across the Langhe, and over the towns of Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga and beyond. The Location of Albachiara is excellent, just below the village of La Morra, though it is close to a small turning circle, which may disturb some. I enjoy the location here since there are a small supermarket, newsstand, wine bar, bank and several restaurant in la Morra.

Hotel Barolo – Barolo
I mentioned the Hotel Barolo in my intro. This landmark Hotel dominates the village of Barolo and features a swimming pool, excellent restaurant, as well as modern rooms. There are the classic rooms in the hote,l as well as a new wing overlooking the pool area and the lower piazza of the village.  From the Hotel it is easy to walk to all the attractions in the village, from great winemakers to the famous Museo di Cavitappi, or Corkscrew Museum.

Hotel Savona -Alba

Alba is the local city, though that might strike some as surprising. The Hotel Savona has an excellent location, just on the edge of the city center and affords easy access to everything in the city, as well as the main routes out of the city toward neighboring villages. The hotel itself is an Italian classic. Nothing special in many ways, but perfect for a good nights sleep with spacious baths and an ample breakfast buffet.

Art Suites – La Morra
The Art Suites are four newly renovated rooms that form the upper floor of the Rocche Costamagna winery. These are centrally located in La Morra, at the very crest of the ridge so they have access to a patio with an incomparable view of the Langhe. The rooms are modern and luxurious, with all the amenities one expects from a larger property, yetit retains the intimacy of a private home.

Villa d’Amelia – Manera

While this property is out of the way,  several kilometers from the main Barolo villages, and somewhat in the middle of nowhere, it is one of the premier properties in the region. Everything is first class here from the luxurious linens, comfortable bed, top-notch breakfast and scenic swimming pool. This is a great choice for someone who wants to relax and enjoy days at the hotel as opposed to those looking to spend more time in the vineyards.

Dining is special in the Langhe, and again my tastes run to the rustic rather than the refined. I am fortunate to live in New York City so when I travel abroad I would rather experience the local as opposed to the aspirational. Nowhere is this more true than with food!

The best meals I have had In Piemonte have been at the establishements that offer home style cooking, as opposed to those trying for a more refined, restaurant cuisine.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing restaurants in Piemonte producing innovative interpretavie dishes that compete with some of the finest on earth. It’s just that when I am in Piemonte I would rather have home made pasta, the local raw beef, Vitello Tonnato, and the like prepared with love by someone's aunt. Fortunately there are several places that fit the bill.

Torre Antica _ Barbaresco – In the small hamlet of Barbaresco one finds the Torre Antica Restaurant, source of some of the finest tajarin al sugo I’ve had the pleasure of eating. All the dishes here have never failed to please, and it is a must visit restauarant for me each time I return to the region. It also just across the street from the Produttori del Barbaresco winery!

Ristorante Brezza- Barolo
On the main floor of the Hotel Barolo one finds the Ristorante Brezza, with it’s expansive patio perfect for warm weather dining. The food here is fantastic with some of the best Vitello Tonnato and Carne Cruda to be found anywhere in the Langhe. Again, I’ve never had a bad dish here, and the food is  always wonderfully fresh, with a real home made authenticity.

Locanda Del Centro - Castiglione Falletto
This unassuming little restaurant in the middle of Castiglione doesn’t look like much but it offers that soulful home cooked style of cuisine that one can’t find outside of the region. The tripe here is magnificent, and the pasta, light and flavorful. The coffee happens to be excellent as well and the owners also have rooms to let, though I have never availed myself. This is really an Osteria as the Locanda, or Inn, in the name refers to both the rooms and the restaurant.

Trattoria La LIbera – Alba

This is among the best places to dine in Alba, though I have had wonderful meals all over town. It’s very conveniently located near the center of town, and close to the pedestrian thoroughfare. The food here is slightly more modern in preparation and presentation, but with a fine balance of flavors and due respect to traditions.

Enoclub – Alba

As the name implies this is a wine centric establishment with a menu that pairs perfectly with the local wines. The restaurant is somewhat hidden off the central Piazza Savona in Alba.  The food is solid, and the rustic room inviting, especially when warmed by a fire in the fireplace.

Il Falstaff – Verduno
The food here is fantastic if a bit non-traditional. I have enjoyed several fantastic meals, with service that has no equal in the area. This is a small restaurant in the somewhat out of the way village of Verduno. It is a find and really not too off the beaten path, and besides one of my favorite producers is alsolocated in Verduno.

Da Felecin – Monforte
The finest of the fancy restaurants in the region. There are certainly more expensive, more adventurous, and more refined meals to be had in the Langhe but none satisfies the soul like one at Da Felecin. The food is a blend of classic elements and inventive accents, and the wine cellar is brimming with gems so if you feel like a splurge Da Felecin is worth a look.

Next week I’ll give you a rundown of some of the best wineries to visit in the region and some great shopping tips as well.


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Comments

  • Snooth User: madmanny
    106551 152

    We recently visited the Piemonte region and must admit that it is a very difficult place to leave. However, with an early morning flight back to the US from Milan Malpensa, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport in a town called Somma Lombardo. Although the hotel is brand new, modern and very nice, the thought of eating hotel food on our last night in Italy was not at all appealing. Little did we know that we were less than a mile from the "real" town of Somma Lombardo and not the outskirts where the airport hotels tended to be. We hiked into the old town, past the ruins of an old estate and were directed to a pizzeria/restaurant called "Desiree". The food there was excellent, specializing in seafood. We started with a plate of fried calimari that was easily the best we have ever had. We determined that the used a light dusting of semolina flour before frying (we don't speak Italian and they don't speak English, so figuring this out was fun). It was a huge portion, much larger than expected. Fourtunately, the waiter suggested we split a pasta dish (mixed seafood and pasta) and an entree (bronzino).
    We were there on a Sunday night and the place was packed.

    Oct 21, 2009 at 12:59 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 220,917

    Thanks so much for the tip. I frequently stay in Milano by the train station and catch the bus to Malpensa in the morning but I have stayed in Somma Lombardo at times and can always use a new Restaurant recommendation!

    Oct 21, 2009 at 1:06 PM


  • Snooth User: Karine05
    151996 11

    Your article is superb - thanks for writing it. Tips on accommodations, dining, and wineries are so helpful.

    Oct 21, 2009 at 1:32 PM


  • Snooth User: jared2
    Hand of Snooth
    173876 25

    Da Felecin is really great and worth both a meal as well as a night. The owner also rents apartments which are wonderful.

    Oct 21, 2009 at 1:46 PM


  • When in Friuli it is worth staying at Domus Magna 1467 - http://www.domusmagna1467.it/ they have connections at a number of wineries, don't miss the piccolit and their honey is out of this world.

    Oct 21, 2009 at 2:08 PM


  • Snooth User: Piccolo161
    199543 37

    Thanks for a great article and wonderfully enticing pictures too. Makes me want to visit.

    Not sure if this is the place to mention this, but in connection with wine tourism I have a home in champagne which is available for Champagne lovers - sleeps up to 10 people easily
    For anyone interested take a look at
    http://tinyurl.com/yfrzku9

    Oct 21, 2009 at 3:12 PM


  • Ciao, Gregory Next time your in Alba check out Enoclub's new wine bar Caffè Umberto. For those needing a little or alot of help in Langhe try http://www.travellanghe.com/

    Oct 22, 2009 at 2:17 AM


  • Snooth User: slrudolph
    224260 2

    In Alba, Il Vicoletto, via Bertero is beyond excellent for traditional dishes done in high style. Also Osteria dell'Arco, piazza Savona for a more modern yet slow food take on tradtion.

    Oct 22, 2009 at 2:01 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
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    Nice to see some fellow travelers around here!

    Perhaps we can meet in Alba for a few glasses of wine sometime soon?

    Oct 22, 2009 at 6:58 PM


  • Snooth User: Marty N
    142701 11

    Better than Fodor and Frommer combined. The Langhe has found a new Minister of Tourism.

    Oct 22, 2009 at 9:43 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
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    Thank Marty. I would like to know how I can apply for that job!

    Oct 23, 2009 at 11:57 AM


  • Snooth User: bropaul
    268864 110

    Nicely done. Makes me want to hop on the next plane.

    Oct 23, 2009 at 5:01 PM


  • Sorry, but in my view neither Hotel Barolo nor Ristorante Brezza nor Felicin provide an authentic experience of the Langhe. One test is that at each place, one can overhear conversations mostly in English or German. For eating authenticity, try Osteria Veglio or Osteria del Vignaiolo (which also has about five rooms upstairs so guests can make it an overnighter). For more upscale dining, just outside of La Morra, try Ristorante Bovio -- great food with a panoramic view of the vineyards of Barolo. For a real local experience, have a light evening meal at a wine bar in La Morra called, More e Macine.

    Oct 24, 2009 at 3:32 PM


  • Snooth User: cigarman168
    Hand of Snooth
    227923 332

    Greg, which month is best to visit Piemont?

    Oct 25, 2009 at 12:57 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
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    Hi Bill,

    I have eaten with the Brezzas while the restaurant was closed and the food is the same they serve when the restaurant is open. If that is not authentic, frankly I don't know what is. I don't think I implied that Felicin was completely authentic so I don't see where you're going there.

    If you want authenticity and only Italian spoken I suggest you visit Schiavenza in February.

    I have eaten at both Veglio and Bovio. The last time at Bovio, English was definitely the principle language in the room.

    My point is that Piemonte is a tourist destination. You are going to encounter foreign tongues there, and in today's world they will quickly flock to the most recently touted establishments.

    I appreciate your comments and perspective. I have not been to More e Macine though in La Morra, I believe at the intersection of Via C Alberto and Via San Martino, is a lovely enotec that i had the pleasure of visiting last year. Perhaps you know it?

    Oct 25, 2009 at 11:44 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
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    Cigarman, I like May. It's still cool at night but the days can be beautiful. June is even better weather wise but is also gets a bit busier. November for truffles. I expect it depends as much on your goals.

    Oct 25, 2009 at 5:44 PM


  • Snooth User: zaphodnl
    192212 6

    If your primary goal is wine tasting, the best time would be late March/April (avoid Easter), so as to cause the least problems for the winery. And yes, it can be cold in the evening, as well as in some cellars.

    Preferably write (or fax/e-mail) ahead, make sure you get an acknowledgment, and bring it with you - at times the wineries have no idea you are coming.

    It is always good to know some Italian (or Spanish) - the wine makers themselves seldom speak English. If not, you'll be subject to a tour hosted by one of the (younger) daughters - maybe not what you were looking for...

    I would strongly suggest to stay at an Agriturismo - simple, affordable accommodations, with breakfast (caffè latte, bread and cheese) included. The farmers are, of course, winemakers. The last time I visited Piemonte, we stayed in Diano d'Alba, very convenient.

    Remember that the food in Piemonte is plentiful (and rich). After ten days of wine tasting (three wineries per day) I just couldn't take it any more, I was too full.

    One thing not mentioned elsewhere is that Piemonte is famous for its walnuts. Try them!

    Oct 29, 2009 at 10:47 AM


  • Snooth User: Fred Z
    152354 31

    Great article and great posts. We love the Piedmont. In Barolo, we liked La Canitinella more than Brezza, but have not had a bad meal in the Piedmont in either of our two visits.

    Nov 04, 2009 at 10:42 PM


  • Snooth User: jbw854
    282396 1

    When visiting these wineries and tasting the wines, are visitors expected to purchase some bottles on site?

    Nov 05, 2009 at 1:15 PM


  • "When visiting these wineries and tasting the wines, are visitors expected to purchase some bottles on site?"

    That is considered the courteous thing to do (and you'll be considered a bit scortese if you don't)...

    Nov 11, 2009 at 8:18 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
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    Sorry that I missed this comment. Some producers don't sell all that much wine ex-cellar but in general buying a bottle after being given a tour and free tasting is simply the right thing to do. So BalthazarB is right in point.

    Nov 11, 2009 at 10:24 AM


  • Snooth User: abryksa
    101577 74

    Great article and great tips and pointers from all the comments as well. Thanks so much!

    Nov 20, 2009 at 11:36 AM


  • Snooth User: ATootsie
    38376 70

    On your main page you wrote about a Winery that I sell here in Ohio Ascheri from the Piedmont region. If your looking for these Wines in Ohio you can contact Wines, LLC. in Cleveland, Ohio

    Nov 27, 2009 at 8:39 PM


  • Snooth User: hms1
    318240 5

    Why would you fly into Malpensa to go to Piedmonte? The Airport in Turino is so much more user-friendly and about 10 miles? outside Turino, which, I might add is a GREAT city.

    Dec 04, 2009 at 8:42 PM


  • looks a great site! We have an extra week in Piedmont after a wedding in Orta. Have from September 19 (leave Orta on this day)until 26 when we have a hotel booked at Lake Maggiore before we fly out on 27th.
    We will have seen the lakes & have previously visited Genoa & Cinque Terra. We will not have a car! We have seen plenty of wineries in Australia & also San Francisco so do not need to tour wineries. We like beautiful scenery; small towns; trattoria style eating; walking; coffee in the piazza; cobblestone streets; not too many cars... we like the idea of agriturismo or b&b's or small, family run hotels. Happy to take train & bus & spend a couple of days getting somewhere... but where???
    Do any of the types of accommodation I have mentioned run any tours?
    Are we better in Saluzzo or Bra where we can utilise local transport for touring?
    Hope someone can help!
    Thanks Jennie

    Mar 17, 2010 at 2:05 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
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    Hi Jennie.

    Alba is a small, and somewhat industrial town, bra perhaps a little more so, but either can be lovely for a couple of days.

    Alba in particular has lovely pedestrian streets, fine dining, ad the human pace of a small Italian city.

    Travel by bus is possible, though not always super convenient, and booking a car and driver not unusual.

    I don't know of any accommodations in Alba that fit your needs though.

    The only Orta I found in Italy is near Napoli. Is this where you will be starting your journey?


    Mar 17, 2010 at 10:28 AM


  • Snooth User: Anna Savino
    Hand of Snooth
    640513 46,139

    Torre Barolo is a must! It is a single loft inside one of the tallest towers in Barolo with an awesome rooftop terrace where you can enjoy your wines with a spectacular view!

    Jul 16, 2012 at 8:42 AM


  • Snooth User: EQWinemd
    786231 65

    A couple of years ago I took a day trip by train/bus up to Alba from Genova. I hadn't been back since 1992. Old men with their truffle dogs walking down Via Vittorio Emanuele were replaced by high cheek-boned, Milano model types, but the town still held its charm.

    I was fortunate enough to secure a seat for lunch at La Libera at the small bar inside the door after explaining to the owner/chef that I had come all the way from Baltimore! Even on a Tuesday lunch - it was reservations only! The food was phenomenal and by the time I was finished and other tourists departed, I was invited to share some grappa with some locals. It turned out to be more than a meal - it was a place in time I will always remember (even with several grappas!).

    Fortunately I am returning to the area this fall for the Palio di Asti, and I am looking forward to a return to Alba. Grazie, e buoni viaggi ovunque tu vada!

    Jul 02, 2013 at 8:35 AM


  • Snooth User: William Djubin
    Hand of Snooth
    1464471 714

    Nicely Done. Can't wait to meet you. Mille Gratis 2014. Barolo/Barbaresco. Piedmonte

    Mar 19, 2014 at 2:29 AM


  • Snooth User: William Djubin
    Hand of Snooth
    1464471 714

    Langhe ***** Hello Angelo.

    Mar 19, 2014 at 2:32 AM


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