The Secret Gems of Italy: Alba and Barolo


Did you know that truffles had their own capital? And I don’t mean the chocolate ones. It’s called Alba, a beautiful city in the heart of Langhe south of Turin, or Torino. If you can choose, visit this city of over twenty nine thousand inhabitants in October. The smell of fresh truffles is ever-present, and you will have so much fun watching the famous donkey race, Palio degli Asini.

In the middle Ages, Alba was a free city-state. Until today, you can admire the rests of its glory in the paved streets. There used to be many aristocratic towers throughout the city, but unfortunately, only a handful is still standing today. The most beautiful ones can be found in Via Cavour, Via Vittorio Emanuelle II, and on Piazza Duomo.

In Alba, you can touch the sky. Well, almost. The ceiling of the majestic Duomo di San Lorenzo from 12th century looks just like a starry sky.

In Italy, you would find very few desecrated churches that serve civil purposes today, but in Alba there is one. San Domenico serves as a theater for music performances today, and it was desecrated already in the times of Napoleon whose soldiers used it as stables. But until today, you can admire its beautiful frescos.

If you visit Alba in the truffle season, don’t forget to have lunch at Osteria dell’Arco. It’s one of the best restaurants in the whole area of Langhe, and its menu reflects seasonal products of the region. In October, its truffle risotto is a must-have. You will find it on Piazza Savona number five.

If you get hungry during the day, there are two places you simply cannot miss. Caffé Calissando is the most beautiful historical café in Alba on Piazza Risorgimento. The variety of its delicacies is unbeatable, and you could spend here the whole day just eating and enjoying the view.

The other place is Vincaffé in Via Vittorio Emanuelle number twelve. A perfect place to have a few spicy stuzzichini – delicious Italian snacks – and a glass of Prosecco.

You don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy a glass of excellent Barolo. And the best place to do so is the little city of the same name – Barolo.

If you want to taste the best wines of the region and also learn more about the history of this divine beverage, you should absolutely visit Castello Falletti with its excellent wine cellar and an exhibition of old wine-making tools and technologies.

Believe it or not, the fame of Barolo is truly ancient. A legend says that already Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar, when he visited the region, took a few young plant of vine and brought them with him to Rome.

One of the oldest wine repositories in Piedmont can be found in Castello Grinzane Cavour. It’s called Enoteca Regionale dei Vini Piemontesi (Regional Wine Repository of Piedmont Wines) and was founded in 1967. Its selection of wines is excellent.

If you want to have a truly unique wine experience, don’t forget to visit Diano d’Alba. Its delicious wine, Dolcetto d’Alba, is made of vine grown only in this city. They produce about one million bottles a year, and a few of them can be yours.

One of the most important cities around Barolo is La Morra. Besides wine, its Piazza Castello offers one of the most beautiful views of Langhe. The Palace of Barolo Marquises is the seat of Cantina Comunale founded in 1973. It is an association of 38 winemakers and represents the most important and best vine varieties of the region. Its large vineyard produces thirty-five percent of Barolo wines.

One of the first original Barolo wines in history aged in the 18th century castle on Piazza Castello in the city of Verduno. Today, a part of the castle hosts a restaurant and a hotel. If you look for romance, make sure to stay here for a couple of nights. But beware – no central heating and no phones.

For a romantic Italian date, visit Monforte d’Alba. This charming little city on a hill has typical narrow streets and a beautiful main square. It breathes romance on every corner, and it’s easy to fall in love not only with the city, but also in the city.

Our last stop today is Santa Vittoria d’Alba. Actually, not the whole city, but just one neighborhood by the name of Cinzano. I guess now you know why. It is the home of the Cinzano family who has been producing sweet liqueurs since 1703. Their famous Cinzano is a secret combination of herbs, and it was the Cinzanos who produced the first Prosecco in Italy. If you want to learn more about the history of this exciting family and their famous beverages, visit their museum in Via Cinzano 63. In the museum, you can also admire a unique collection of glasses from all around the world. Some of them are two thousand years old.. best wine tours in Willamette Valley

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