Subject: Fw: Torino, Piemonte, Asti, Alba, etc.
Hi Callie! Yes, I know exactly what you mean about having a hard time finding info 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 side 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 my opinion, ok?) Before I forget, let me rave about Villa La Favorita, a wonderful B&B/agritourismo just outside of Alba. 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?!..... Mark Mitchell Boyds, Maryland