Piedmont itinerary in 4 days
Including the Barolo and Barbaresco Wine Regions
I've done walking trips in Europe before (see my Austrian Alps and Provence itineraries) and find it to be a great way to explore an area. Of course you don't cover as much ground as you would with a car, but being up close with nature and the beautiful surroundings gives you such a different perspective.
My husband and I love good food and wine so the Langhe area in Piedmont felt like a perfect choice. It's not as busy as Tuscany and you can't beat the Barolo and Barbaresco wines of the region. The region is also known for its very special and expensive white truffles. In the autumn, you can participate in a white truffle hunt.
We booked our self-guided walking trip with a company called ATG Oxford based out of the UK. They customized the trip for us as we wanted to do only three days of walking. The company provides hotel, a book with instructions for the walks (including detailed directions, best places to stop for lunch, historical information about the towns, etc.), luggage transfers from hotel to hotel and the service of a route manager from the area who met with us the first evening and is available by phone 24/7. I highly recommend ATG Oxford. The trip was very well-organized and they were great to communicate with. I will definitely use them again.
This region did not disappoint! Our walks were incredible. See below for the details.
Day Trip in Barbaresco wine region
We arrived by train in the town of Asti where we met our guide, Matteo, from Langaround Wine Tours. Matteo was very friendly and he drove us n his comfortable car to the town of Canelli known for its underground cathedral wineries where they produce a delicious sparkling wine.
We visited the Cantina Contratto winery and its wine cellars which have been dug into the adjoining mountain. The Contratto winery was founded in 1867 and in 1910 became the official wine supplier of the Vatican, the Belgian royal house and in 1913 the royal house of Savoy. They currently specialize in sparkling wine and vermouth. We had a very interesting and fun tour of the underground cathedrals and then had a very generous tasting, along with snacks and explanation of each wine we were trying.
From Canelli, Matteo took us to the towns of Neive and Barbareso. We walked around the towns and we climbed the Tower of Barbaresco which stands 30 metres tall. There is a modern tower adjoining it with an elevator. Once at the top the views are beautiful, and there are interesting display cabinets with the history of the tower and area.
We then drove to Restaurant Rabaya just outside of the town of Barbaresco for a delicious lunch on their patio surrounded by vineyards and the view of Barbaresco in the distance where we enjoyed delicious food and wine.
After lunch we drove to a small, family owned winery, Ca' del Baio, that produces Barbaresco wine. This special winery is run by three sisters. We were given a tour of the grounds and the winery and then had some tastings of their yummy wine. They told us the history of the Barberesco wines and the region.
After this special day, Matteo drove us to our gorgeous hotel in Monforte d'Alba where we checked into our hotel, Villa Beccaris, located on the top of the hill and a two minute walk to town. What makes this hotel particularly special are the grounds - it sits on a hill with stunning views of the vineyards below. It has beautiful and lush patios, gardens and a pool to soak up the views. It's the perfect place for some wine and cheese.
Monforte d'Alba is a beautiful hilltop town in the Barolo wine region. The ancient town centre is perched around the old bell tower, which was restored several times. There is a garden and look-out point outside of the bell tower where you can see beautiful views of the town below and the valleys in the distance. On a clear day you can even see the Alps.
The town is very steep and the little cobblestone streets and alleyways are filled with restaurants and gourmet shops. It is a very pretty town. The main piazza is at the bottom of the hill.
We ate dinner at Casa della Saracca. Located in the highest area of the steep old town, this restaurant and bar sits in an ancient stone building with different levels, arches and nooks. Each level has its own table. The delicious food is typical for the area and the pasta is freshly made in-house. They have a large selection of wines.
Today we did our first walk in the region. This route is a circular route, meaning we started in Monforte d'Alba and returned there at the end of our walk. This walk was approximately 13.5 km.
We started the route from our hotel following a ridge and heading north. After walking through vineyards with gorgeous views of the Alps, we descended past a hazelnut grove and through more vineyards through the heart of the Barolo wine producing area to the hamlet of Perno. From there we continued through vineyards to a wide and fertile valley, passing picturesque farms, crossing the Talloria de Castiglione stream and then ascending into the town of Serralunga d'Alba.
Serralunga d'Alba is a typical small, medieval village built around a castle. The castle was built in the 14th century and has been beautifully restored. The narrow streets and alleys lead up to the castle in concentric rings.
We took a break for a delicious lunch at È Divino. Food always tastes best after a long walk and this small trattoria did not disappoint. We had a delicious salad, charcuterie board and of course a glass of vino in this lovely town with breathtaking views of the hillsides.
After lunch we continued our walk descending back into the valley and then climbing a track through forests, vines and farms back to Monforte d'Alba. Feeling proud of ourselves, we sat on the beautiful patio of our hotel with a beer and some snacks admiring the view.
After a well deserved rest and showers we strolled into town for dinner. We ate at Osteria dei Càtari where we sat in the casual and lovely patio of this restaurant covered by colourful umbrellas. The food and wine was delicious.
This lovely hotel in the small hilltop town of Monforte d'Alba is in a perfect location just outside the historical centre. The rooms are comfortable but what makes it so special is the setting. The hotel overlooks the vineyards. The patio areas, pool area and the beautiful breakfast dining room have stunning views all around. It's wonderful to sit on the patio with a beer at the end of the day. It's also a short stroll into the charming town of Monforte.
In the charming town of La Morra, this hotel has nicely renovated and elegant rooms. The rooms have balconies facing the lush garden courtyard that leads to the beautiful pool area. The salads and drinks served in the garden are delicious and hit the spot.
Located just outside the old town, this hotel is a more standard style. Although it's not as charming as the others, the rooms are large and comfortable and the breakfast was good. It is an easy stroll into the old town.
Rabaya Ristorante. With it's magnificent views of the vineyards and valley below, this restaurant was the perfect place to stop on our tour of the Barbaresco wine region. The veranda was so comfortable and the food and wine were delicious.
Casa della Saracca. Located in the highest area of the steep old town of Monforte, this restaurant and bar sits in an ancient stone building with different levels, arches and nooks. Each level has its own table. The delicious food is typical for the area and the pasta is freshly made in-house. They have a large selection of wines.
Osteria dei Càtari. We sat in the casual and lovely patio of this restaurant covered by colourful umbrellas. The food and wine was delicious.
È Divino. The lunch stop during our first walk was in Saralunga d'Alba at È Divino. Food always tastes best after a long walk. We had a delicious salad, charcuterie board and of course a glass of vino in this lovely town with views of the hillsides.
Bar Antico Caffé. This small cafeteria style restaurant in the small town of Barolo was the perfect spot to have a sandwich and wine during our second walk. They have a lovely patio with lots of shade.
Locanda Fontanazza. This casual restaurant just outside of the old town had beautiful views of La Morra and the valley below. The menu consists of traditional Piedmontese food - with most of the ingredients sourced locally. They also had the best panna cotta I've every tasted.
Osteria del Vicoletto. Located down a small street in the old town of Alba, this restaurant offers delicious local food including all homemade pastas. Tables were set outside and the atmosphere was lovely.
While this wine region is mostly known for its small hilltop towns, we did manage to stumble across this gem of a museum during our walking trip.
Picta Aula Museum. Located in the town of Barolo this small museum has a permanent collection of Picasso, Miro and Dali sculptures, paintings and prints.
Guides and Tours
Langaround Piedmont Wine Tours. We spent a day touring with Matteo from Langaround Piedmont Wine Tours. Matteo was very good to work with while planning our day trip. He picked us up in the town of Asti and drove us to a couple of wineries where he arranged for tours and tastings. We stopped to visit some of the small towns in the region and he also booked us a delicious lunch at Rabaya Restaurant in Barbaresco. Matteo is very knowledgeable about wines and the entire region. I highly recommend him.
Barolo walking tour:
ATG Oxford. We spent three days on a self-guided walking tour in the Barolo wine region. This incredible trip allowed us to explore this area in a very unique way - up close and personal with the land and towns. It was an experience of a lifetime. ATG booked our hotels and provided us with detailed walking instructions/directions, they transferred our luggage from town to town and provided us with a very helpful route manager who was in touch everyday and gave us lots of tips. I highly recommend ATG Oxford. They were a pleasure to deal with and the route manager was excellent.
Today after breakfast we checked out of our hotel and headed on our walk from Monforte d'Alba to the town of La Morra. We left our luggage at reception to be transferred by our tour manager to our next hotel.
This 9 km walk took us through the historic centre of Monforte and then out of the town along a track on the crest of a hill with panormaic views , followed by the beautiful Barolo countryside and then descending into a ravine before ascending into the town of Barolo. Everywhere you looked, the views were breathtaking.
The charming old town of Barolo lies in the valley. It is one of the municipalities in the area allowed to grow the Nebbiolo grapes from which the fine Barolo wine is made. The Falletti Castle at the top of the town dates back to the 11th century. Today, the castle area houses the Wine Museum, as well as a farming museum and school.
We were very pleasantly surprised when we saw that the church by the castle had an art gallery with a permanent collection of paintings and sculptures by Picasso, Matisse and Dali. The Picta Aula Museum was a real treat and something unique to see during our walks.
We wandered around the winding and steep streets of the town going in and out of shops and then settled at Bar Antico Caffé, a small take-out style restaurant with a lovely and shaded patio. It was the perfect spot to have a sandwich and wine during our second walk. We treated ourselves to a delicious gelato at a small gelateria in town before continuing on our way to La Morra.
Good thing we had a nice lunch because the second half of today's walk was more challenging! The remainder of the route followed beautiful vineyard and involved a slow, steady and at times steep climb up to the hilltop town of La Morra.
Once we arrived at the charming Boutique Hotel Corte Gondina we were ready for a snack and a cold glass of wine and beer! They offered delicious salads and snacks in the garden by the pool. The hotel rooms are beautiful with balconies overlooking the gardens.
After a rest we walked into the town. There is a belltower at the top of the hill and a beautiful park and terrace with views of the Langhe region. On a clear day you can even see the Alps in the distance.
We had dinner reservations at Locanda Fontanazza. This casual restaurant just outside of the old town had beautiful views of La Morra and the valley below. The menu consists of traditional Piedmontese food - with most of the ingredients sourced locally. They also had the best panna cotta I've ever tasted.
After breakfast today we started our final walk to the town of Alba. This 15 km walk was mostly downhill which was a very nice change from the walks of the previous two days.
The route passes through farmland, hazelnut groves and vineyards, stopping in small towns with beautiful views of the Alps and Tanaro Valley.
We stopped in the town of Roddi, which has a well preserved castle. We had lunch and a short break in a small sandwich shop by the castle and continued on our way.
While we covered a longer distance, since it was mostly downhill it didn't take us as long as expected. We arrived in the town of Alba - home to yummy Ferrero Roche and Nutella - in the early afternoon. We checked into Hotel Calissano which is located just outside the old town. We rested and showered and then headed to the old town which is just a short stroll away.
Known as the "capital" of Langhe, Alba dates back to the Roman civiliztation. It is a larger town than the others we visited. It is known for its white truffle production and the confectionary company Ferrero is based there, employing lots of the residents. The old town is lovely with lots of shops, "enotecas" (wine stores), cafès and restaurants. It's very lively and fun to walk around.
We stopped for our afternoon Aperativo at a sidewalk cafè and did some people watching.
We had dinner reservations at Osteria del Vicoletto. Located down a small street in the old town of Alba, this restaurant offers delicious local food including homemade pastas. Tables were set outside and the atmosphere was lovely.
This morning after breakfast we said goodbye to Alba and headed to the train station to catch a train to Bologna, the next leg of our trip. Our walks through the Piedmont region were a real highlight of our trip to Italy.