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There is nothing I enjoy more than arriving at an Italian café early in the morning, resting my arms on the cool marble counter, and ordering my first cup of coffee for the day. I could be doing this anywhere in Italy, but the tomato, salad, and egg tramezzino (a soft sandwich cut into triangles) accompanying my hot cappuccino is what confirms that I am in Piedmont. And, to be exact, in the charming city of Turin.
As someone who has relocated from Italy, I believe Turin is one of the most charming and underappreciated cities to visit in the country. Whenever someone mentions their plans to visit Milan or other popular destinations, I always suggest Turin as an alternative. As the capital of the Piedmont region, it is easily accessible by train and offers direct routes from Paris in just six hours on the Italian Freccia Rossa. The city boasts elegance, cultural richness, and simple navigation, making it an ideal destination for any type of traveler. Unlike Florence, Venice, or Rome, Turin is free from the usual crowds of tourists.
Are you in search of a vacation filled with cultural experiences? Turin is the location of one of the world’s most significant museums dedicated to Egyptian art, second only to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. If you’re looking for delicious food, Piedmont is the birthplace of the Slow Food movement, a worldwide grassroots organization that advocates for local cuisine and traditional cooking techniques. Additionally, the city is home to 11 Michelin-starred restaurants, such as Condividere and Magorabin, as well as numerous affordable dining options where you can sample the regional dishes.
Turin was the first Italian capital, once the residence of the Italian monarchs, and birthplace – together with the rest of the Piedmont region – of some of the most coveted Italian treats: espresso (invented in Turin, not Naples), white and black truffles, Barolo wine and arguably one of the world’s tastiest chocolate treats that can rarely be found outside Italy, the Gianduiotto.
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However, the culinary and wine culture in Turin thrives thanks to the exceptional ingredients available in the surrounding region. Exploring the Langhe Monferrato Roero area, a UNESCO-protected site known for producing renowned Italian wines such as Barolo, Nebbiolo, and Barbera, is a must for those who appreciate food and wine. Additionally, the town of Alba, considered the capital of Langhe, offers opportunities for truffle hunting and sampling (of both black and white varieties).
Although Tuscany has been gradually acquired by famous Americans and wealthy individuals, Piedmont remains predominantly Italian, particularly in terms of tourism.
Stephen Croncota, the ex-CMO of Versace and current owner of Villa Giara, relocated from Los Angeles to Milan and was captivated by Piedmont. He accurately stated, “Piedmont is now what Tuscany was two decades ago. It possesses the same stunning beauty as those well-known tourist destinations, but it maintains its authenticity and is much more affordable. Additionally, it is much more accessible.”
The wines of the region are well-known and draw in wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs. However, it is uncommon to see large tour buses, bachelorette parties, or newlywed couples on a wine-filled honeymoon in the Langhe Monferrato Roero. This differs from the Chianti area or Bordeaux region in France.
Visitors to this area have a plethora of options when it comes to vineyards. There are over 400 wineries to choose from, and even the tourism board has created a helpful website, piemonteonwine.it, to assist in finding the perfect winery for individual preferences. They have also done the same for promoting the region’s local products; on piemonteonfood.it, you can discover local producers to visit for sampling and purchasing.
One highly recommended destination for grape enthusiasts is the Castello di Grinzane, a stunning castle that features the Piedmont Regional Wine Shop and an open-air vineyard museum where visitors can gain knowledge about the origins of their Barolo. Additionally, Neive village and Canelli’s underground cathedrals are also worth visiting, with 20 kilometers of historic wine cellars that have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 2014.
Stephen Croncota described the region as resembling the picturesque landscapes from children’s fairy tales, with rolling hills, winding roads, and castles in the distance. He compared it to a real-life version of those idyllic illustrations. I fully concur with his description. If you are planning to visit one place in Italy next year, make it Piedmont – you will not be disappointed.
Travelling by air
Several airlines operate flights from the United Kingdom to Turin. Ryanair provides non-stop flights to Turin from Bristol, London, Manchester, and Birmingham. British Airways and easyJet also offer non-stop flights from London, while Jet2, easyJet, and Tui have direct flights from Manchester. Tui and Jet2 both offer non-stop flights from Birmingham.
Travelling by train
Traveling from London to Turin by train is quite simple. The Eurostar train departs from St Pancras daily and arrives at Paris Gare du Nord in 2 hours and 37 minutes. From there, you can transfer to another train, preferably the Freccia Rossa high-speed train, at Paris Gare de Lyon, which will take approximately six hours to reach Turin Central Station in Italy.
To explore the area, renting a car would be the most ideal choice as it allows for easier visits to quaint villages and wineries. However, if you prefer to stick to train travel, you can still reach many charming towns via Italy’s regional trains. All train bookings, including the Freccia Rossa, can be made on Trenitalia.com.
Casa di Langa
Casa di Langa is a 39-room sustainable hotel situated amidst the Barolo, Barbaresco, and Alta Langa wine regions. Within its 42 hectares, this luxury establishment offers cooking lessons and wine-tasting experiences at its Wine Academy and Cooking School, as well as pampering sessions at its Lelòse Spa and gourmet dinners at Fàula Ristorante, where executive chef Daniel Zeilinga prepares mouth-watering delicacies created using produce from the restaurant’s greenhouse and biodynamic garden.
Villa Giara is a stunning country house with 10 bedrooms situated in the center of the wine and truffle area. It serves as an ideal starting point for visiting nearby wineries and charming villages, or for simply lounging by the pool with a glass of wine. Please note that Villa Giara only accommodates adults (17 and older) and does not allow pets.
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