The Langhe is a hilly area in the south region of Piemonte. It is well known for its high quality wine areas, considered to be some of the best in the world. Picture this, hectares and hectares of vineyards over hills are what you will most probably see when touring the area. In 2014 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Monferrato and Roero, for their cultural landscapes and centennial winemaking traditions. As I lived in Bra, I had very easy access to the Langhe region. However, the most convenient way to get around is with car, so keep that in mind. These are different locations in the area that could be visited in one day, but if you could could make each location a day trip on its own.
If you ever make it to this area of Italy, these are some must do's:
After a 30 minute ride from Bra to Monferrato and its surroundings, there are two very interesting projects focused on the growing of Piedmont IGP hazelnut. Did you know this area is also known for its high quality hazelnuts? Yes, they've got the wine, the truffles, and even hazelnuts.
Learning about local and small producers of the area is always an amazing way to understand its value. I got the fortune to visit two different local producers in the area of Monferrato and Borgomale. Cascina Pajanot is a local family business running a sustainable Agritourism that has a happy plantation and production of nocciolle, as well as all the ingredients they use in their restaurant.
There we got to have a traditional Piedmontese lunch. As an antipasti, I had to go with their Whole Roasted Onion au gratin stuffed with bechamel sauce and sausage and with a hazelnut crumble. For primi, the iconic. Agnolotti del Plin al Tovagliono. Agnolotti refers to the type of pasta and Plin al Tavagliono means they come served over table cloth, with no sauce, and can be enjoyed by hand (so cool).
We then met with the owner and manager of Macio, a farmer growing Tonda Gentile Trilobata I.G.P hazelnut, along with fruits, vegetables, and vineyards for wine. Getting to see this man on his lands, showing us his factory, and the result of days of handwork, made our job as communicators and marketers even more valuable.
People like these are examples of communities offering higher-quality and sustainable products that should not be overpowered by the influence of big corporations producing millions of over-processed hazelnut spread jars.
To move the legs a bit and embrace the gorgeous Langhe, head towards Monforte d’Alba. This gorgeous medieval town is part of the Barolo wine production area. Head to the top, where you will find once of the many "big benches" of the area, head towards the church and its grassy amphitheater, and wander down through all the vibrant houses and gorgeous scenery to the main plaza.
To enjoy a nice glass of wine and a stellar view of Langhe, head to Castiglione Falletto a a little town located in the top of a hill. If you are hungry while here, head to La Terraza "Da Renza", for an Italian homecooked meal. They do not take reservation, so be ready to wait, or have a plan B for food.
We decided to indulge only in antipasti, so small plates, like seasonal asparagus, carne cruda (aka, a beef tartare), and other Piedmontese staples you need to try:
- Vitello Tonnato, thinly sliced veal meat topped with a creamy anchovy and caper sauce
- Insalata Rusa, a vegetable, meats and potato salad
- Acciughe al verde, anchovies marinated in a green sauce called bagnet verde, that consists of garlic, parsley, olive oil, white wine vinegar.
Piedmontese cuisine is distinctive and unique due to its French influence, so much so, even the region's dialect resembles the French language.
Next you will continue towards the town of Barolo, but making a quick stop in la Capella delle Brunate, a technicolor chapel in the middle of Langhe. It is meant to bring a refreshing and extravagant hint of color, to a region steeped in tradition and conservation.
When in Barolo, do not miss your chance to attend a tasting and tour of a Barolo producer, like Marchesi di Barolo. Barolo is made when harvesting, pressing, fermenting and aging Nebbiolo grapes. It must be aged in oak for at least 38 months before reaching the market, and in order for it to become a Riserva, it should be aged for a minimum of 5 years.
It has been classified by the DOCG, the designation of Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, as one of the highest quality wines in Italy. If you are thinking of pairing this wine with food, as it is a wine with high tannins and acidity, the best would be "tropo pesante" and high content foods. Which could explain why the food from this region is naturally heavy, to enjoy it with Barolo.
Next stop is, La Morra.
Personally, my favorite one. Sunny days in La Morra feel like blessings from the universe. As it is very small, but still with more than 5 churches in total, it is easy to tour in an hour. If you are filling like a fun and quirky aperitivo, head to Vineria Sociale 🍷 Their focaccias are stellar, so consider trying them. The main plaza is the ultimate spot to admire the Langhe's scenic landscapes. Sometimes you will see giant hot air balloons navigating through the green lands and blue skies -- or catch the yellow, orange, red bursts of light during the sunset.
As for lunch or dinner, plan in advance and make a reservation with Osteria More e Macine. Go crazy with their antipasti, get yourself a red Pelaverga, and most importantly, order their Tajarin al Ragù as a primi.
The underrated cousin of Barolo, also produces its Nebbiolo grape wine variety, and it might be just as good, or better, than the King of Reds. Barbaresco is the name of another gorgeous town in the region of Piedmonte. If you make it here, head to a Barbaresco Azienda Agricola for a tour and tasting of some of their best Riserva offerings. You will realize the magic and uniqueness of Barbaresco comes from its complex flavors due to its unique terroir, microclimate, and experts hands.
Thanks to Gabriele, one of the experts working in this Azienda, we ended in Tastè: Osteria a Tre Stelle for lunch. We had to get their full antipasti with a glass of barbaresco.
Have you ever been to this region in Italy? Would you join me next time?
Let me know in the comments below.