In autumn 2019 my son and I visited the Langhe region in northern Italy. Langhe is the hilly area to the south and east of the river Tanaro in the province of Cuneo in Piedmont. This stunning area is famous for its wine, cheese and truffles. Piedmont is surrounded on 3 sides by the Alps, making for some spectacular scenery.
The area is of particular interest to us as my sister has a vineyard and winery in Australia which we have watched grow since the beginning. My son is also a winemaker.
We based ourselves in Novello in the heart of the home of Barolo, perhaps the most famous of the wines from Langhe. At first we were a little disappointed that the weather was misty with occasional rain showers, but we soon realised that it made the scenery even more gorgeous. This surely must be the most beautiful wine region in Italy.
Novello is a tiny village with pretty houses and a good selection of cafes, enotecas and restaurants. It also has a castle which has now been converted to accommodation. Nearby is a lookout offering stunning views of the surrounding vineyards.
The next village we explored was Barolo, a village full of opportunities to try their fabulous wine. It also has a castle, dating from the 10th century. It has been rebuilt after 16th century wars. It now houses an international wine museum dedicated to the world of wine and an enoteca in the old cellars.
Another spectacular castle is in Serralunga d’Alba. It dates from 1340. There are lovely grounds beside the castle which offer views over the vineyards below and the villages that dot the hillsides.
Neive is a charming village where we visited a very special winery. The door to the cellar of Cantina del Glicine has the date 1582 written above it. Once we walked through the tiny room where the wine is made we descended into the ancient cellar below. It is like a fairytale cave with glistening walls dripping with moisture. The floor has tiny mushrooms growing in crevices and the barrels and bottles are tucked into arched storage spaces.
The tasting room upstairs is like being in someone’s cosy kitchen and 2 delightful women led us through the tasting of their excellent wines while their family of cats made themselves comfortable in various places. This winery is not to be missed.
In Barbaresco we discovered L’Enoteca Regional del Barbaresco in a church. What a delightful setting for tasting rooms! It is a small village, but we saw other tasting rooms and once again, the hilltop offered excellent views.
The other winery we particularly liked was Vietti in Castiglione Falletto. The winery is built into the side of the hill on the edge of the town. It is amazing how the owners have been able to build a modern winery in this ancient site. The cellars below the winemaking area are cave like and some of the walls are part of the original fortification walls of the village.
The tasting room is ultra modern and our charming host had excellent knowledge and led us through an excellent tasting of their wines.
La Morra would be a great place to stay and use as a base to explore the Langhe area. The town is a little bigger than some of the others and has an interesting selection of cafes and restaurants to choose from.
At the top of this very beautiful town is Piazza Castello with the best views of the area. There are helpful directions built into the floor of the piazza pointing to the other hilltop towns.
The food from the Langhe is delicious! Look for truffles, especially the white truffles of Alba.
Bagna cauda is another specialty of the area, dating from the 16th century. It literally means ‘hot dip’ and is made from garlic and anchovies. It is usually served as a fondue with raw vegetables dipped into it.
Tajarin is a silky fresh pasta made from egg dough. It has been made for centuries in the area, with recipes handed down through families. It would be wrong not to try it.
If you are lucky you will be in Langhe at the time of the Alba truffle festival. As well as amazing truffles to try and buy there are great stalls with products from the region and interesting traditions on show.