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.
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
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.
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