Alps & Beyond, created a customized, unforgettable trip to show us the best in Piemonte.  The owner and our guide, Anna Bezzola, introduced us to this region’s rich culture and complex history.  The magical hilltowns that dot this Northwest corner of Italy, have breathtaking panoramas that reach to far horizons stretching to the Appennini Mountains and further to the Alps.  Ancient castles, enchanting hamlets and medieval fortresses crown these hilltowns with rolling slopes of vineyards.  The local people welcomed us with their heartfelt traditions and culture, authentic Italian flavors that we savored in the regional cuisine and exquisite wines.  We soon learned why Piemonte is a best kept secret!

Here is our list of the best in Piemonte and an 8 day Travel Itinerary!

Enjoying the beautiful Piemonte outdoors!

  • Hiking among the vineyards, medieval castles and hilltop towns of Piemonte’s Langhe region

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  • Enjoying splendid panaramas of the Appennini Liguri, Monviso and the Alps bordering France

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The best to eat and drink in Piemonte!

  • Learning the secret recipes from traditional cuisine through a cooking class in a family-run trattoria

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  • Tasting some of the finest Piemonte wines in boutique wine cellars and cantinas (cellars and vaults)

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Cultural and History of Piemonte!

  • The best in Piemonte wouldn’t be complete without exploring the extraordinary history, culture and traditions of the Occitane valleys

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For a detailed itinerary, please continue on….

8 Day Travel Itinerary featuring the best in Piemonte!

Day 1:  Torino – Barbaresco – La Morra

After arriving into Turin, our trip began in the Langhe, famous for its Barbaresco, Barolo, Barbera, Colcetto and Nebbiolo wines.  We checked into the heart of the wine country in La Morra and Hotel Corte Gondina, an elegant bed & breakfast, became our home for a few days.

Day 2:  La Morra – Vergne – Barolo

Our day hike began from La Morra and onto Vergne, a small village where many of the homes are decorated with wall murals depicting local agricultural life and traditions.  Our guide took us along the country roads, tractor paths, trails and through woods, wheat fields, hazelnut orchards, and vineyards to Novello, while we enjoyed the vistas of surrounding hills and the Alps.

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Novello is a quaint, small village perched at the edge of a hill with the Barolo vineyards that roll down below.  After visiting the nearby 13th century castle in Barolo, our group hiked back to La Morra.

Day 3:  Verduno – La Morra Cooking Class

In the morning, we took a leisurely walk to the medieval town of Verduno, we returned to La Morra for our cooking class at a family-run trattoria, Il Laghetto.

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The chef and owner, Alberto, included us the cooking experience and introduced us to some of the Langhe dishes, including Tajarin ai ragu di verdure – a vegetable pasta for the Primi, and Brasato al Barolo – a braised beef shoulder for the Secondi, and a Tarte-tatin, apple tart for Dolci!  Later in the evening, after he delivered the last course, he took off his apron and headed off to play in a soccer game, while we slowly strolled or should we say rolled back to our hotel…

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Day 4:  Serralunga – Sinio – Monforte d’Alba – Manera – Alba

On Day 4, we were ready to hike off some kilos from the Italian feast the night before.  Anna guided us on another incredible day of hiking through the hilltowns of Serralunga, Sinio, and Monforte.  This circular hike led us through oak and poplar forests, more hazelnut orchards and vineyards.  Many grape farmers were starting their harvest and some of us pitched in to help with the new crop.

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When we reached Serralunga, we saw its’ own castle that dates back to the 1200’s, then continued onto Monforte.

In the evenings, we savored traditional Piemontese cuisine at family-run restaurants or osterias recognized by the SlowFood movement, and learned about their commitment to sustainable farming and agriculture. We settled into a new home base at Relais Montemarino, a renovated “cascina di langa”, a traditional stone farmhouse.

Day 5:  Alta Langa – Manera

During our stay in the higher elevations of the upper Langhe, we enjoyed hikes on a ridge that looked over deep valleys with views of the Maritime Alps.  On this day, we meandered to Pavaglione, and then returned to Manera through the woods and following the ridgeline.  After a relaxing afternoon at the hotel pool, we left for Alba for a delicious Italian 5 course dinner.

Day 6:  Alta Langa – Bergolo – Prunetto – Saluzzo

The hike started in Bergolo, where we found an open air art gallery throughout the village, and panoramic ridges that overlooked the Bormida and the Uzzone Valleys.  We arrived for a picnic lunch on the grounds of the Prunetto Castle with  views of the Maritime and Cozie Alps.  Our guide Anna opened a tablecloth and presented a fresh picnic lunch with local cheeses, meats, vegetables, and freshly baked breads.  Anna “pulled rabbits out of hats” throughout the trip, and was able to get us into old churches and fortresses within minutes.  She has traveled this area extensively and knows the locals and who has the keys and can provide us private access.  One of the old churches we visited had several well preserved frescoes, and a local guide explained the traditional painted stories to us.  After a full day of hiking, we transferred to Saluzzo in the lower plains, where we could see Monviso known as “the King of Stone” or the “Mont Blanc of the Southern Alps”.

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Day 7:  Valle Di Po

From our Saluzzo hotel, Antico Podere Propano, we ventured out for our hike to Monviso.  The drive through the Po valley ended in the Pian del Re protected natural park.  Anna took us to the base of this towering mountain jetting out of the Alps chain leading to France.  From here, the Po River, the longest river in Italy starts its 405 mile journey to the Adriatic Sea.   This is where we begun our uphill hike up Monviso,  that reaches an altitude of 12,601 ft.  The trail led us to Rifugio Sella at 8,661 ft located below the east face of Monviso, and we sat down to rest and have a piping hot bowl of homemade Minestrone soup, and visited with other alpine climbers to hear about their adventures climbing the steep rock faces surrounding the area.  On our hike, we crossed a “sassaia”, a field of boulders and rocks both on the ascent and descent, and stopped to look into the reflections of Monviso in the jade green glacial lakes.

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Day 8:  Valle Varaita:

On our final hiking day, we departed Saluzzo through the long valley of Valle Varaita in the Cuneo province area, and hiked up to Bosco dell’Alleve (the forest of Alleve).  After our picnic lunch at a nearby rifugio, we descended to the Occitane hamlet town of Chianale, and walked through the large stone tile roof village that holds on to its traditions.  Another 6-course Italian dinner awaited us in the town of Saluzzo, and we walked through the pedastrian streets to pack before departing our ways the following day.  Some of us spent a couple days enjoying Milan, others went straight to Venice or Rome, and most of us headed back to reality.

AND….all of us are looking forward to our next trip with Alps and Beyond!

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