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Piedmont travel advice requested

by Bruce K » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:05 pm

My wife and I are going to spend three or four days in Piedmont in mid-December and would love some advice about where to stay, eat and visit, and what to do.

We'll be flying into Milan and I assume we'll rent a car. Questions we have include:

** Would it be better to visit the Barolo/Barbaresco region or perhaps one of the more obscure wine producing areas like Gattinara, Ghemme or Carema, or even to stay in Lombardia and go to Valtellina? (I love wines from these latter appellations, but wonder if visiting wineries there is more problematic, especially in December, since they more off the beaten tourist track.)

** What's the winery visiting process like in Piedmont? Do many wineries have regular tasting/visiting hours or is it mostly by appointment? If the latter, how difficult is it to arrange? Also, does being there in off-season complicate matters?

** Is there a particular town or village you'd recommend as a home base? Ideally, we'd like to be in a place with good restaurants so we don't have to drive after dinner.

** Would it make any sense to stay in Lago d'Orta? I know it's a long way from Barolo/Barbaresco, but might be closer to Gattinara or Carema, for example, and it looks beautiful. On the other hand, everything might be closed in December.

** Also, what about Val d'Aoste -- either for a day trip/overnight or for the full four days? FYI, we don't ski, but I suspect it is beautiful and I also love the few wines from there I've had in the past.

** Any specific restaurants, hotels or apartment rentals you'd recommend? And any other things to do besides visiting wineries, eating and drinking (not that this wouldn't be more than sufficient!)?

Thanks in advance for any advice, recommendations and thoughts anyone might have.

-- Bruce
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Fredrik L » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:17 pm

First question: how much Italian do you speak?

Greetings from Sweden / Fredrik L
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Bruce K » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:39 pm

Molto poco.
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Mike_F » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:29 pm

I got some great Piemonte info' from Birger who used to post on this forum. Some links are posted on his website (in Danish, but mostly self-explanatory) - http://www.langhe-vine.dk/Links.aspx

Another great source of information (in English) is the blog http://www.piemontemio.com/

Winery visits must be coordinated in advance. I'll post later about some wineries, restaurants, and places to stay that we particularly enjoyed.
Of course we must be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Mike_F » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:13 pm

High-end restaurants that should not be missed:

Ristorante all’Enoteca (Chef Davide Palluda), Via Roma 57, Canale, Tel. +39 0173 95857, http://www.davidepalluda.it

La Ciau del Tornavento, Piazza Baracco, 7 12050 Treiso (CUNEO), Tel. +39-(0)173-638333, http://www.laciaudeltornavento.it

Wineries that we particularly enjoyed:

Barbaresco zone:

Bruno Rocca, Via Rabajà, 60 (for GPS use Via Rabajà n. 29), 12050 Barbaresco
Tel e Fax +39 (0) 173 635112
e-mail info@brunorocca.it
http://www.brunorocca.it

Azienda Agricola Sottimano, Loc.Cotta' 21, 12052 Neive (CN)
Tel.(+39) 0173635186
info@sottimano.it
http://www.sottimano.it

more to follow...
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by John S » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:50 pm

If you only have 3-4 days, I'd suggest staying only in the Piedmont region - there's a lot to see. Maybe a day could be spent in Torino if you want to go to a city for a change?

Yes, you need appointments for almost every winery. They aren't too hard to get. if you book a suitable place to stay, they can sometimes help you with reservations, but most have e-mails on their website. if you are going in late Decemeber many may be closed, though. I'm nort even sure about early December.

If you really don't want to drive after dinner, staying in Alba might be a good choice. Monforte d'Alba might be a better option, though, as there are good restaurants/wineries in town/nearby. Near La Morra is another option. I like staying around La Morra - great views, restaurants and wineries are nearby. But I'd rather be in the countryside than in a city, even Alba.

Visiting wineries, eating and drinking are definitely the main things to do in Piedmont. General sightseeing as well, and perhaps visiting markets (not sure if they run in December). You'll probably only be able to handle 2 or 3 maximum winery visits per day - they can take quite a while.

Enjoy your trip, it's a beautiful area!
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Mike_F » Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:34 pm

I second the suggestion to stay in or near La Morra. Two great places, actually next to each other -

Bed & Breakfast FIOR di FARINE
Via Roma 110, 12064 La Morra
Tel. +39 0173 50118
Fax. +39 0173 500635
http://www.fiordifarine.com

This B&B is run by the owners and operators of the adjacent organic flour mill, and the breakfast is an impressive spread of home made baked goods that reflect the excellent produce of the mill.

Corte Gondina Hotel
Via Roma 100, 12064 La Morra
Tel. +39 0173 509781
Fax +39 0173 509782
info@cortegondina.it
http://www.cortegondina.it/welcome_eng.lasso

Comfortable and welcoming hotel

Both establishments are run by warm and friendly people who will make every effort to make your stay enjoyable, and can help with restaurant recommendations, tour itineraries, winery suggestions, etc
Of course we must be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Eli R » Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:35 pm

Hi,

We spent a week there in May. Two wineries a day. All cooredinated in advance.
Some require recommendation from your local distributer, ottherwise will not accept private visits.
Not sure about December. You'd better send a few e-mails even now and check if they are open to visitors in Dec.

Later on I can send you more information in a private message.

Eli
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Bruce K » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:50 am

Mike, John and Eli, thanks so much. This is very helpful.
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Ian Sutton » Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:15 pm

Comments in red below
Bruce K wrote:My wife and I are going to spend three or four days in Piedmont in mid-December and would love some advice about where to stay, eat and visit, and what to do.

We'll be flying into Milan Ideally Milan Malpensa, the big airport as it's conveniently on the west side of the city and I assume we'll rent a car. Questions we have include:

** Would it be better to visit the Barolo/Barbaresco region or perhaps one of the more obscure wine producing areas like Gattinara, Ghemme or Carema, or even to stay in Lombardia and go to Valtellina? (I love wines from these latter appellations, but wonder if visiting wineries there is more problematic, especially in December, since they more off the beaten tourist track. Agree this depends in part on language skills, as it's a little easier in Barolo/Barbaresco, but even they aren't tainted by mass tourism. We've very much taken to Ghemme, but it's unusual and less photogenic. We've take to small town Italy and love the place, but 99% of tourists would pass by with barely a thought. If you do stay there, we'd recommend Il Cavenago, and if you fancy a convenient 1st night there, if it's at the weekend, then their meals are wonderful. I can also give a few reccos for Barolo/Barbaresco, but in truth it seems hard to go wrong )

** What's the winery visiting process like in Piedmont? Do many wineries have regular tasting/visiting hours or is it mostly by appointment? If the latter, how difficult is it to arrange? Also, does being there in off-season complicate matters? Definitely by appointment, though a small few allow drop ins - and more would make an effort to accomodate you if convenient. Generally easy to arrange, go to the LangheRoero tourist site for an extensive listing (Gambero Rosso guides also have contact details). I always email them with about a 80-90% response rate back, though it can take a few days, even a couple of weeks. What might be more useful is the booking service on the LangheRoero site, which will sort it out for you, but do charge a €30 cancellation fee if you don't turn up for the appointment. Off-season may be a bonus as the harvest will be in but the cellar will still have activity going on. Better on the whole than early october, when harvest may be coming in

** Is there a particular town or village you'd recommend as a home base? Ideally, we'd like to be in a place with good restaurants so we don't have to drive after dinner. Treiso nr. Barbaresco has 4 very good restaurants, but very little else. Perhaps easier is Monforte d'Alba with a few more shops, bars, and some very good restaurants etc. including a surprisingly handy elettroautisti - we managed to get a 20c coin wedged in the cigarette lighter connection, which had they not ingeniously got it out, would have meant no sat nav!!! We stayed at La Rosa Gialla, which is about a 10-15min walk from the (large) village nr. Conterno-Fantino. Warm and comfortable modern apartments that retain some style. Marina owns and runs them and La Valentina (IIRC) was the nicest we saw. Plenty of other options in La Morra, Castiglione Falleto etc. Again the LangheRoero site has extensive listings and they'll even book the accomodation for you. Just heard a very good reccomendation for Gioco dell'Oca nr Barolo from a member of a different wine forum.

** Would it make any sense to stay in Lago d'Orta? I know it's a long way from Barolo/Barbaresco, but might be closer to Gattinara or Carema, for example, and it looks beautiful. On the other hand, everything might be closed in December. Not just Lake Orta, but there is apparently a much smaller untouristed lake up there that was recommended to us by someone in Ghemme. My concern would be the short days would really cut into the time you had to enjoy it, plus it might just suffer from being obviously out of season

** Also, what about Val d'Aoste -- either for a day trip/overnight or for the full four days? FYI, we don't ski, but I suspect it is beautiful and I also love the few wines from there I've had in the past.Yes it's lovely and you'll be able to see and perhaps even experience the snow. At that time of year I'd expect to be looking at the city of Aosta itself and the Gran Paradiso park might present too tough a driving challenge. Not a worry though as Aosta itself has plenty to offer and you're very much nestled in the mountains, so still get a good feel for them. It also allows you to avoid using a car - in truth the driving can be unusually frantic, as there is so little flat ground there is too much traffic for the overall size. Clearly this isn't Naples busy and if we drove there it really couldn't be that bad, but busier than it's overall population would suggest. There is enough to do in the centre and it could be quite magical at that time of year.

** Any specific restaurants, hotels or apartment rentals you'd recommend? And any other things to do besides visiting wineries, eating and drinking (not that this wouldn't be more than sufficient!)?See some of the reccos above, but if you're in Ghemme, Aosta, Langhe or Turin, then once you've decided, I can give you specific recco.s Birger has even more extensive knowledge and will always be happy to chip in with ideas

Thanks in advance for any advice, recommendations and thoughts anyone might have.

-- Bruce
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by David Creighton » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:07 pm

many years ago i really liked staying in orta san julia on the lake. there was just an article in the NYT about it. maybe you can find it. just in the last two weeks i think. fairly close to the airport and the more obscure wine regions you mentioned. the big lake is lovely too - name escapes me.
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Mike_F » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:46 am

Here are a few more wineries we really enjoyed visiting last year. I agree that it is difficult to do more than two wineries a day, most of them are family operated and the folks take pride in their efforts and invest time in each visitor. That, and the beautiful countryside and winding roads conspire with slow lunches and dinners to make it seem foolish to try to do more...

Giovanni Manzone, Via Castelletto 9, Monforte d'Alba – Piemonte
Tel/Fax: +39 0173 78114 - info@manzonegiovanni.com
http://www.manzonegiovanni.com

Beautiful Barolo, interesting Langhe white


Azienda Agricola Fabrizio Battaglino, V. Montaldo Roero, 44, 12040 Vezza d’Alba (CN)
Phone 0039 0173658156
http://battaglino.com
battaglino@battaglino.com

fine Nebbiolo and Barbera at ultra-reasonable prices

Marchesi Alfieri s.r.l. Società Agricola, Piazza Alfieri nr.28, 14010 San Martino Alfieri (AT)
tel. 0141-976015 fax 0141-976288 Mobile 335-1805324
locanda@marchesialfieri.it
http://www.marchesialfieri.it/site/en/azienda.htm

Excellent Barbera, and beautiful estate grounds

Az. Agricola Filippo Gallino, Valle del Pozzo, 63 - 12043 Canale (CN)
http://www.filippogallino.com/en/index.htm
Tel +39 349.71.54.509
laura@filippogallino.com
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Mike_F » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:10 pm

And finally, here is another website link for regional information in English from people who know wine and food -

http://www.travellanghe.com

That's it from me. Please update us on your trip when it happens..
Of course we must be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Oliver McCrum » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:23 pm

If this is your first visit I would stay in the Barolo area.

I love 'agriturismo,' sometimes translated as 'farmhouse B&B', rather than hotels. Some wine producers have very good ones, including my Barolo producer Sergio Germano, in Serralunga. Very comfortable, amazing breakfasts, fabulous view of Castiglione Falletto, and you're staying with a working winemaker. I am sure there are other good ones, maybe someone else could recommend another spot. http://www.germanoettore.com/it/agriturismo.php

My taste in travel is not to try to do too much, but I know people who are the exact opposite. I would say that 3-4 days would allow a great visit to the Barolo/Barbaresco area (the Langhe), as well as a trip to the Roero and Dogliani areas nearby. All of this would be easily reached from one base in the Barolo area.

You will probably be tasting with the owner or the owner's family, so appointments are definitely a good idea.

More tips at http://www.omwines.com/OMWINES/Wine_Tips.html
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Bruce K » Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:54 am

Thanks also, Ian, David and Oliver. Lots of food for thought!
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Steve Slatcher » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:03 am

Mike_F wrote:I got some great Piemonte info' from Birger who used to post on this forum. Some links are posted on his website (in Danish, but mostly self-explanatory) - http://www.langhe-vine.dk/Links.aspx

That's Birger Vejrum. You might like to drop him a PM. If he gets notification of the PM by email, I am sure he will be glad to give advice.
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Birger Vejrum » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:50 am

Hi Bruce,

Thanks for your e-mail. I reply here so anyone interested can see.

Remember snowchains for the car :shock: there could be heavy snow. If you choose to go to Aosta there are several streetsigns that you have to use snowchains for the car.

You have to contact the producers directly, they understand English.

I would stay at http://www.agriturismoilbricco.it/ in Treiso, write to Serena and Alice, tell them you know me. Walking dintance to Tornavento ( Michelin Guide Restaurant ) and 3 other good restaurants in Treiso.

You need reservations at all the restaurants, I would reccomend the following:

http://www.trattoriadellaposta.it/ just outside Monforte d´Alba. €40 for the menu and an huge winelist.
In Monforte you could visit http://www.gianfrancoalessandria.com/ great wines, write to Vittoria, tell her you know me.

Osteria di Gemma in Roddino http://www.leradicieleali.it Locals are there no English is spoken among the staff. Loads of food which include a bottle of Dolcetto :wink: €25

www.davidepalluda.it My favorite restaurant in Piemonte, in Canale. Top top restaurant. Tell them you know me.

You could visit Filippo Gallino ( write to Laura ) and Battaglino ( write to Fabrizio ) while you are in Canale. Tell them you know me.

Also visit the old town of Neive, two good restaurants there http://www.lalunanelpozzo-neive.it/ write to Cesare and http://www.bottegadei4vini.com/it/index.php write to Rosanna. In Neive/Barbaresco you will find several good producers among others http://www.brunorocca.it/ write to Luisa http://www.sottimano.it/ write to Andrea.

I could write all day, but hope this covers it. If you need more help let me know.

All the best
Birger
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Ian Sutton » Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:25 pm

Della Posta is one of those rare places, that became famous, yet still produce the food to a high standard, but without losing it's rustic roots. We never went to Tornavento, but Della Posta, Risorgimento and the newer wine bar were all impressive and reasonably priced. Definitely a better option eating in Treiso than Barbaresco itself which suffers a little from the easy tourist dollar.

If you do want further details, just yell. I've got a crib sheet from previous trips to Piemonte that I can easily ping to you or post the appropriate sections of here. Also queries on logistics if you have any.

regards
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Bruce K » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:53 am

Grazie mille! Great stuff here.
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Re: Piedmont travel advice requested

by Oliver McCrum » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:13 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:Della Posta is one of those rare places, that became famous, yet still produce the food to a high standard, but without losing it's rustic roots. We never went to Tornavento, but Della Posta, Risorgimento and the newer wine bar were all impressive and reasonably priced. Definitely a better option eating in Treiso than Barbaresco itself which suffers a little from the easy tourist dollar.

If you do want further details, just yell. I've got a crib sheet from previous trips to Piemonte that I can easily ping to you or post the appropriate sections of here. Also queries on logistics if you have any.

regards
Ian


Except for a coffee at the Bar Baresco, which is of course a must.
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