Yes, I know exactly what you mean about having a hard time finding
on the Piemonte region. My wife and I spent three days there in late
May-early June. It was great! More on that later...As for print material,
there's a very good guidebook entitled Touring in Wine Country: Northwest
Italy by Maureen Ashley and Mitchell Beazley. Noted wine writer Hugh
Johnson is the series editor. Even if you're not interested in wine, the
book has tons of information on restaurants, hotels, markets, and general
info on cities, towns, and villages. The Piemonte is also covered to some
extent in those two benchmark references for Italian-bound foodies and
chowhounds: Italy for the Gourmet Traveler by Fred Plotkin, and Eating
in Italy by Faith Heller Willinger.
I would recommend staying in or near Alba. We only spent a couple
hours walking around Asti, and it was a nice enough town. Alba, however,
really impressed me as a very nice, compact, well-kept place to relax and
wallow in the fine food, wine, and scenery of the Piemonte. The Enoclub is
a fantastic restaurant with, of course, a wine list to die for. We had a
1997 Gaja Barbaresco that stopped us in our tracks. We're hardly wine
experts, but we knew it was something special the second we tasted it.
Sigh..... Uh, where was I? Oh yes...I'd recommend eating on the early
as the restaurant gets very crowded and very noisy later in the evening at
the typical Italian dinner hour. A short drive away is the little town of
Bra, a somewhat tired-looking blue-collar working town. But don't let the
facade fool you! Bra is the home of the Slow Food organization and the
staff's hangout, the Osteria Boccondivino. Mama mia! Santa Maria! I'm
drooling over myself remembering the six-course tasting dinner I had there!
In general you'll find the food of the Piemonte a little more refined than
that of Tuscany or Rome. Don't misunderstand me: I L-O-V-E all the
regional cuisines of Italy! However, I think the Piemonte cuisine showed a
little more sophistication, and maybe a French and Swiss influence. (I've
probably just insulted half the TravelZine membership. Sorry. It's just
Before I forget, let me rave about Villa La Favorita, a wonderful
B&B/agritourismo just outside of Alba. http://www.villalafavorita.it
It's a beautifully restored villa only one
kilometer north of Alba, run by one of the nicest and most helpful
innkeepers/hosts I've ever met, Roberta Girasole. By all means consider
staying there! (I have absolutely no financial or personal stake in the
operation.) I could -- and have -- gone on forever. Please feel free to
email me for more info.
Barolo! Did I mention the wine shrine in Barolo?!.....