The Piedmont region (Piemonte, meaning "at the foot of the mountain" in Italian) is set in a gorgeous location surrounded by vineyards, rolling countryside, and framed by the Alps in the distance. It lies in northwest Italy and the region borders France and Switzerland. Most tourists don't bother too much with this region, instead opting for the more popular Tuscany, and that's one of the things we thoroughly enjoyed about it. Aside from the very small towns there is just farm country, home to vineyards, truffles, and family run inns. This is a place to come to relax and gaze out at the beautiful scenery with a glass of wine in hand.
Our first stop in this region was Turin (Torino). Turin is the capital of the Piedmont region and is Italy's fourth largest city. It was also home to the 2006 winter Olympics. As we drove from the airport into the city we noticed a tremendous difference right away... people here follow the rules of the road! They stop at traffic lights, stop signs, and yielded at circles and pedestrians! We actually got honked when we went into a circle without stopping, which is an everyday part of Naples life.
Turin has a cultured and educated vibe to its city. Around every corner are theaters, beautiful French influenced style buildings, and festivals geared towards the arts. It's a very clean city and the streets are free of beggars. We wish we could have spent more time here, but we had a weekend in the wine country ahead of us.
For the next couple of days we drove to different wineries in the Barolo and Barbaresco regions. In total we visited eight wineries, with four of them giving us tours and tastings completely in Italian. Our favorites happened to be the very small family run wineries where the families actually live on site. They were so welcoming, didn't charge us for tastings (though we did buy a ton), fed us snacks, and let us try as much as we wanted. It seemed like they were in it for the pure joy of making wines, rather than mass producing bottles for the public. We'd say we were productive during our two wine tasting days: 46 bottles and a magnum. Had we driven back and not taken the train it probably would have been more.
|An old cellar|
|Town of Barolo.|
|Town of La Morra.|
Our small bed and breakfast was situated just outside of the small town of Barbaresco. High up on a hill we had a lovely view of the town of Alba and some of the region. We were within walking distance to a few restaurants that served typical Piedmont food consisting of pasta with butter and sage, truffles, and meats. Soft cheeses and fig jam were a staple at breakfast, which was reminiscent of our time in Switzerland.
|Our bed and breakfast.|
|View from the bed and breakfast|
|Church in Barbaresco.|
|Our little FIAT|
|The Duomo in Asti|
|Small, quiet street|