Tag Archives: Piedmont

3 great reasons to visit The Langhe region of Piedmont.

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The Langhe Hills are only a short drive south-east from Turin, and are easy to reach for a long weekend break or indulgent weeks vacation.  The area is surrounded by the Alps mountain range and the Po valley which is renowned for it’s rice growing plains.

The rolling hills are dotted with villages, hamlets and castles that date back to medieval times and conjure up images of nobility and splendour.

1. The Wine

The hills of the Langhe are the lands of noble vineyards producing wines of great quality and diversity.  The Nebbiolo grape being the protagonist in Barolo and Barberesco wines.  Alongside Barbera and Dolcetto d’Alba, Le Langhe boasts a vast number of wineries which are for the most part vineyards that have been family run for many generations.  The winemakers of this region take great pride in their land and the yields that are harvested each year.

2. Truffles

As the summer temperatures start to cool and the leaves start turning all shades of yellow, burnt orange and brown you can be sure that autumn is here and the highly awaited Alba International White Truffle fair is drawing near.  October through mid – November is white truffle season. When truffle hunters gather with their dogs on the hunt for the costly tuber that will be sold at a price that is determined daily at the International Truffle Fair.  Taste this lavish delight at a local trattoria or restaurant where it is served in thin shavings over pasta, eggs or risotto.

3. Food

Truffles aside, Le Langhe is foodie heaven, with a culture of cuisine this region boasts a number of luxury Michelin rated restaurants as well as family run trattorias that pride themselves in traditional seasonal recipes using local produce such as cow and goats cheese, beef braised in wine and a variety desserts made with it’s prestigious hazelnuts.

There is no better place to go for a bit of relaxation accompanied by excellent food and wine than Le Langhe.

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4 things to do in Piedmont

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Piedmont is an very important Italian region for the food and wine world yet that has been undervalued by the travel world! In a way, this is a blessing for those wanting to escape the droves of tour buses and groups jam packed into Italy’s major destinations like Rome, Venice and Florence. Not only that, Piedmont is an ideal region to visit if you are a food and wine lover. The best cities to visit in Piedmont are Alba, Turin, Barolo and Bra. If you are planning a trip to Italy, consider Piedmont! Here is what we recommend for things to do in Piedmont:

1. Alba- tap into your inner hunter with a truffle hunt!

Sure, to the uninitiated truffle may just be a foul tuber, but to the gourmand, it represents the ultimate in gastronomic delights. Some would say it has the fragrance of the gods. Although found in France, northern Spain and other parts of Italy, the region around Alba is considered the quintessential truffle capital. It’s also the economic bellwether that determines the official price of truffles worldwide. Its method of discovery adds to the mystique.  A truffle hunt takes you through the the woods exploring with a truffle expert and their truffle hunting dog. Sniffing through the misty woods of Piedmont, the truffle-hunting dog will suddenly dig her paws into the crunchy soil to find a true gastronomic treasure: a large walnut-sized white truffle. At the end of a truffle hunt you’ll learn how to analyze truffles from a technical point of view, as true gourmand tasters do. You’ll learn more about the white truffle, how to use it, how to taste it, and how to preserve it. Totally a must do experience for active, nature loving Italian food lovers!

2. Love chocolate? Visit Turin’s historic chocolate producers!

If you are a chocolate lover, discover “chocolatropolis” Turin: a city of authentic Italian food culture. Visit some of the major points of interest during your trip to Turin and don’t miss captivating Baroque masterpieces like Piazza San Carlo, the Cupola del Guarini, the Royal Palace and Piazza Castello. Remember to stop and smell the flowers by taking a break in an historical caffè and experience Turin’s most traditional coffee: made just for chocolate lovers called “bicerin”, as well as some excellent confections, gelato and pastries. Turin will delight you with Baroque palaces, workshops, bakeries and confectioners.

3. Had enough food? Go on a Barolo wine tour and taste Italy’s finest wines!

Barolo wine is the undisputed king of Italian red wines. Both of the most celebrated Piedmont reds, Barolo and Barbaresco, are made from the Nebbiolo grape that yields deeply perfumed, mid-weight, wines with good aging potential. Among the other noteworthy Piedmont wines are the incisive, vibrant Barbera and the softer, lusher Dolcetto. The best wines of this area were made famous by Marc de Grazia’s “Selection of Fine Wines from The Great Crus Of Italy”, among many others Scavino, Cavallotto, Clerico, Altare and Molino. Whether you are a wine lover, collector or simply a wine drinker, a Barolo wine tour is a great activity to do when visiting Piedmont.

4. Cheese and Beer lover? Visit Bra!

Discover the best cheese in Italy when you visit Bra! The city is very small and very easy to reach by train from Turin. In the historical center part of town, there are plenty of gastronomic deli shops open to the public where you can explore all the different cheeses of the region and taste the ones that look curious to you! In addition to being a great destination for tasting artisan cheese in Piedmont, there is a huge craft beer movement happening in Piedmont and what better way to compliment your cheese tasting in Bra than with a visit to a very tasty brew pub!  (called “birreria” in Italian.) During September, there is the annual slow cheese festival organized by the Slow Food Movement which is a candyland of cheese, beer and wine tastings! In any case, Fall is the quite possibly the best time to visit Piedmont so why not plan it around a cheese festival!

Are these options not enough? Contact the expert travel staff at Le Baccanti to learn more about how you can have the Italian gourmet vacation of your dreams!

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Chocolate and Truffles- what’s the difference?

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A lot of people think of chocolate when we mention a truffle hunting tour. What? Chocolate hunting? Well, some truffles are of chocolate nature but REAL truffles are actually a savory mushroom-like fungus that grows underground in the forest! Here are some quick facts about truffles:

*They spore near trees in the wild forests more notably in the regions of Tuscany, Piedmont and Abruzzo.

* Truffles range in cost from $250 to $600 a POUND. Truffles in some cases are bought and sold at auctions. May the highest bidder do the truffle shuffle.

* They are used widely in Meditteranean cuisine and are most commonly enjoyed in Italy on fresh pasta or in an egg frittata.

* Truffles, are in fact, a FUNGUS. Not a tuber but they resemble the texture of a tuber so hence why a lot of confusion is made in the culinary world.

* There are 2 most common varieties: Black and White. The Black varieties grown in the spring and summer and are the most affordable variety. Be careful when purchasing white truffle products- white truffles are scarce and very expensive- I doubt a food manufacturer can really produce a €10 jar of white truffle sauce without cutting corners and adding artificial flavorings.

How come chocolate is now confused at the mention of truffles in Italy? Well, chocolate truffles are round balls filled with a smooth center. Therefore, the name derives from the usual shape they take as the word ‘truffle’ derives from the Latin word tuber, meaning “swelling” or “lump”, which later became what we call today “truffle.” This could be another reason why truffle fungi are mistaken for tubers.

Interested in tasting the real thing? Le Baccanti Tours offers chocolate tasting tours in Florence, Turin and Bologna. Le Baccanti Tours also organizes truffle tasting activities throughout Italy, most notably in Truffle Hunt Tours in Tuscany, Alba and Piedmont. Contact us today to receive a quote for your next gourmet vacation in Italy.

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7 Beautiful Villages in Italy

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Italy is a tiny country, smaller than the state of California! In a small space, Italy has managed be full of HUNDREDS of villages. Italy is also full of major destination cities but in a matter of 10 kilometers in some cases, you can arrive in a tiny village which has a unique landscape, culture, gastronomy and even their own dialect in some cases. Italy is quite possibly one of the most diverse countries in the world.

If you’re the type of traveler interested in the tiny towns, we have found some beautiful villages in Italy we suggest you visit.

Traveling to Piedmont?

1. Ricetto di Candelo- This village is considered a sort of Medieval Pompeii. Ricetto di Candelo is one of the best preserved examples of medieval structures present in several places in Piedmont and in parts of Central Europe. Located in the municipality of Candelo, Biella in Piedmont. Local specialties include salam ‘d l’ula (a type of peppered red wine cured salami) and traditional hand tenderized pork shoulder.

2. Orta San Giulio- This is a lakeshore picturesque village in Piedmont 100 km NE of Turin and is considered to be a watercolor worthy inspiration. Filled with gardens, churches, basilicas, palaces and bell towers- Orta San Giulio is a beautiful lake community to visit full of art and history. Local specialties include liver mortadella and perch risotto.

Traveling to the Veneto?

3.  Arqua Petrarca- This village is where the poet Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca) lived the final four years of his life (1370-1374) for all you literature buffs out there. This tiny town, apart from being rich in literary history amidst scenic rolling mountain slopes, has been awarded for excellence in hospitality, tourism and sustainability. Local specialties include Bigoli with ragù: a thick, fresh handmade spaghetti with flour and eggs served with a ragù of beef, veal, pork, porcini mushrooms and tomato sauce.

Traveling to Liguria?

4. Vernazza- Wedged between the sea and the famous Cinque Terre (5 lands), Vernazza is a stunning harbor village on the Ligurian coast. Vernazza is one of the 5 lands of Cinque Terra and in 1997 recieved recognition from UNESCO as a world heritage site. Sites include beach, hiking areas, chapels, churches and ancient castles. Local specialties include fragrant lemons, trofie pasta, rich olive oil and a famous raisin wine made from native vineyards.

Traveling to the Emilia-Romagna?

5. Castell’Arquato- This Italian village is located on the hills of Val D’Arda in the province of Piacenza, in Emilia-Romagna, around 30 km from Piacenza and 35 km from Parma. The town is famous for being home to Opera composers such as Giacomo Puccini and it’s picturesque medieval features which have starred in hollywood films. Castell’Arquato is also in the area of the Colli Piacentini (Piacenza Hills), an important area for wine production. The most important wines produced in the Colli Piacentini are Gutturnio, Ortrugo, Malvasia, and Monterosso Val d’Arda.

Traveling to Lombardy?

6. Tremezzo- Tremezzo is best known as a tourist resort and for its villas, of which the most famous is the Villa Carlotta with its much-admired gardens. It is located on the western coast of Lake Como and is defined as being “in the middle” between the Po Valley and the Grigioni Pass. Local specialties include bay leaf preserved fresh water fish and grilled polenta.

Traveling to Tuscany?

7. Buonconvento- Buonconvento is a small Tuscan village in the Province of Siena in the Italian region Tuscany, located about 70 km south of Florence and about 25 km southeast of Siena in the area known as the Crete Senesi. Local museums, brick structures, ancient fortresses and renaissance castles define this historical Tuscan gem. Local specialties include fabulous local wine, salami, pappardelle pasta with wild hare ragù and more.

For over ten years Le Baccanti has provided the finest service in customized luxury cultural food & wine vacations and day tours in Tuscany and Italy. Our personalized services are recommended by BBC Travel, The Independent, Le Monde, The Telegraph and scores of satisfied wine, food and art lovers. Contact us to learn more about your next Italian dream vacation.

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