Located in northern Italy at the nexus of Piedmont’s storied Barbaresco and Barolo wine regions, the Langhe is a study in light and texture. Ragged Alpine summits and serrated crags backdrop melodic swells of vineyard plots, their mismatched trellis patterns resembling fingernail scratches on a piece of velvet. Fog washes down the mountains in thick layers, creating a dramatic play of shadow and sun. Visitors come for the wine, but stay for the views.
The Langhe offers world-class wine, food and cultural travel experiences, all reachable by car and possible to enjoy in stays of three days or more. Fly into the Turin or Milan airports and the region can be reached by car within 45 minutes or 2.5 hours, respectively.
“We have 19 Michelin-starred restaurants, more than anywhere else, and over 1,000 wineries to visit,” says vintner Angelo Gaja, a central figure in Piedmont’s wine identity. “People truly come here to explore their passion for food and wine.”
Below are two driving itineraries to help you discover the best of the Langhe, with insider tips and wine suggestions to match.
The Barbaresco Loop
The cheerful town of Alba is a fitting base for exploring the greater Langhe. Ferrero, which created the chocolate-hazelnut spread Nutella, is headquartered here, and its delicious scents are carried by the winds. Colorful wine bars and boutiques line either side of the pedestrian Via Maestra that links the café-lined Piazza Savona to Piazza Duomo.
Although the lodging in Alba lacks charm, this bustling town is an excellent day stop for serious foodies. On the Piazza Savona, check out the reasonably priced , whose Osteria dell’Arco carne cruda all’Albese battuta al coltello (minced raw beef similar to steak tartar, but without the egg or spices) is not to be missed. Across the square, , which features an elegant dining room in a vaulted cellar, turns out memorable specialties like Enoclub Ristorante tortino di carciofi con fonduta di Parmigiano (artichoke heart patty on a bed of melted cheese).
One of Alba’s best restaurants is
, which offers an exhaustive wine list to pair with local dishes. La Libera Ravioli di gallina nel suo brodo (ravioli in chicken broth) can be followed by capretto arrostito (roast kid). on Piazza Duomo was founded by the Ceretto wine family. This upscale bistro with a chalkboard menu and enclosed outdoor seating makes a mean La Piola fritto misto Piemontese (fried meatballs and vegetables). Upstairs is the prized , which offers a formal dining experience choreographed by chef Enrico Crippa. Piazza Duomo
Leaving Alba by car, head toward Treiso, home of the celebrated Roncaglia and Pajorè vineyard crus and producers Rizzi, Pelissero and Orlando Abrigo. This township boasts some of the highest-altitude vineyards in the Barbaresco zone, resulting in lightly nuanced and elegant wines. The road curves up to the ridge of the hilltops, opening onto infinite panoramas of
cascine and casòt (farmhouses and small buildings) scattered among the never-ending vineyards.
Not to be missed,
is located in Treiso’s old post office and offers charming rooms and vineyard-facing dining. One tasting menu is inspired by fresh garden herbs and includes asparagus soup with oregano, Parmigiano, poached egg and black truffle shavings. For a quick lunch, try the colorful La Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso’s main square. Located slightly outside of town, Profumo di Vino is a family-run bed-and-breakfast that’s located in an 18th-century farmhouse, with a friendly atmosphere. Ada Nada
The next town is Neive, known for tannic and structured expressions of Barbaresco from the Serraboella, Gallina and Basarin crus. serves up delicious handmade pasta and offers sundrenched rooms to rent in the upstairs inn. Locanda Contea offers well-priced Langhe country cooking. Cantina del Rondò
The looming tower of Barbaresco draws you to the heart of this fabled wine region. The paved road takes you past well-known vineyard sites like Martinenga, Asili, Rabajà and Ovello.
Popular tasting rooms are
, which offers vineyard tours and tastings by reservation, and Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy , one of Italy’s most prestigious co-operatives. A visit here (with a reservation) allows you to taste through old vintages. Produttori del Barbaresco
Every wine lover’s dream, of course, is to visit the cellars of Angelo Gaja (you can see his gate midway down the main drag in Barbaresco). Sadly, visits are limited to wine professionals, and even they must fill out an online questionnaire.
After you have walked up and down the short length of Barbaresco, you might book dinner at
for a bottle of local wine paired with roast lamb and crispy onion cakes. Loop back to Alba by way of the Tanaro River. Ristorante Antinè The Barolo Loop
A natural starting point for a tour of Barolo is the
in Grinzane Cavour. This imposing brick edifice was the residence of Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour in the 19th century and a leading figure of the Italian unification. Today, it houses the most important visitors’ center in the Langhe. Castello di Grinzane
You can taste Barbaresco and Barolo at the on-premise Piedmontese Regional Enoteca as well as purchase wine, cheeses and truffles. There is also a museum and an excellent restaurant that serves local cuisine paired with wines you select from the Enoteca. Delightful lodging steps away from the castle’s gate may be found at
, which offers 12 beautifully decorated rooms. Hotel Casa Pavesi
Like Barbaresco, most family-run boutique wineries in Barolo require reservations for winery tours and tastings. Every wine lover will have his or her favorite producers to visit, but here are a few excellent starting points.
Located in Alba,
boasts some of the oldest cellars in Piedmont. Pio Cesare welcomes visitors daily without a reservation (for approximately $20) and offers a massive fiberglass dome from which you can admire the vineyards. Ceretto has developed a beautiful visitor center that accommodates 40,000 wine tourists each year. Marchesi di Barolo has a terrific wine shop, and Damilano offers a packed wine museum. Visually stunning, Renato Ratti is headquartered in a massive palace that once belonged to the royal Savoy family. Fontanafredda
From Grinzane Cavour, follow the signs for La Morra. One of the most celebrated restaurants in the Langhe is located on the winding road that snakes toward town.
sits high on a ledge with views extending to the Alps. It also serves unforgettable house-made pasta. Ristorante Bovio Raviolini del plin ai tre arrosti nel loro ristretto are hand-shaped pockets stuffed with meat and served in a reduction sauce made from three roasted meats. If you haven’t already feasted on brasato di manzo al Barolo (beef braised in Barolo wine), try it here. Osteria Veglio (Fraz. Annunziata, 9) and the less formal, are two local favorites. Osteria dei Vignaioli
At more than 1,600 feet above sea level, La Morra offers commanding views of the entire Barolo production area (a little plaque on Piazza Castello offers a map of the panoramic Belvedere in front of you). From the center of town, a dirt road leads down to the Cerequio cru and the delightful hotel recently inaugurated in its honor. Owned by vintner Michele Chiarlo and his family,
is modern and sleek, with a sun-filled reading room, music by the pool and minimalist bedrooms that all deliver spectacular Cerequio views. Palas Cerequio Barolo Cru Resort
Barolo is the next town to visit, and the main attraction here is the
housed in the spectacular Castello di Barolo. Designed by the people who created the Cinema Museum in Turin, there is nothing ordinary about the exhibits here. Music, light, touch and texture take you through a sensorial tour of Barolo wine. The museum tour ends in the castle cellars, where you can taste various wine flights at the WiMu Wine Museum Enoteca Regionale del Barolo.
If you are looking for a delicious, home-cooked meal in town, try the country fare at La Cantinetta (Via Roma, 33) or Osteria La Cantinella (Via Acqua Gelata, 4/a). Both offer hearty Piemontese classics like bagna cauda (vegetables in a hot anchovy dip), Barolo risotto, brasato or panna cotta. If you desire a more sophisticated dining experience, head for , which has an amazing selection of main courses, a wide selection of cheeses like toma, robiola, caprino and blù, and more than 800 wines. Locanda nel Borgo Antico
Monforte d’Alba is yet another destination for unforgettable food and wine. This beautiful town offers many tantalizing choices.
presents Trattoria della Posta vitello cotto nel sale con salsa tonnata (veal cooked in salt and served with a creamy tuna sauce) and cipolla ripiena di toma di Murazzano e salsiccia di Bra cotta al forno (tomatoes stuffed with toma cheese and sausage). Hotel and restaurant is located in a beautifully frescoed country manor with a lushly shaded garden. Da Felicin offers elegant room and board with a highly recommended restaurant. Le Case della Saracca is yet another gorgeous piece of real estate that offers luxury accommodation in a country setting. Hotel Villa Beccaris
The last two towns on this loop are Serralunga d’Alba and Castiglione Falletto, which take you to the far reaches of Barolo.
was built recently by Barolo producer Beni di Batasiolo and remains the only five-star property in the Langhe. The hotel offers all modern amenities, a spa and an excellent restaurant named Il Boscareto Resort & Spa La Rei, which is enclosed in dark glass and filled with contemporary furnishings. Try the suckling pig in sesame crust. The scenery becomes more rustic and lonely near Castiglione Falletto before the road loops back to Barolo.
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Published on August 12, 2013