Day 1 - We start in Torino, the capital of Piemonte
Participants meet at the central train station in Turin (Torino). A short 1-hour comfortable ride in our private mini-coach brings us to our first hotel in the heart of the best of Piemonte wine country. We are in the town of Alba in the wine region of Langhe. The tour starts with a wine pairing dinner.
Day 2 - Barolo is Nebbiolo!
His majesty ‘The Barolo Wine’ awaits us at the Enoteca Regionale located in the magnificent castle in the town of Barolo. We learn all the different styles of Barolo with a local guide at the Enoteca. The challenge of this visit is to distinguish an old style Barolo producer from a new style Barolo producer! You will be certainly able to do it after a side-by-side tasting of the different styles. In the afternoon we are off to visit the campus of the first world University specialized in … food! Universita’ del Gusto founded by Slow Food, the international movement started right here in Piemonte by Carlo Petrini in 2003. We are in the quaint village of Pollenzo.
Day 3 - Barbaresco, che passione!
After breakfast we drive uphill to the village of Barbaresco. Some people call the Barbaresco wine the younger brother of Barolo. I totally disagree. Do you want to know why? Find the answer to this today, when we enter this world!
We start with a visit and tasting at a family run winery located in one of the best ‘cru’ – vineyards of this region. Then we stop in the main village piazza to visit a unique church, home to the Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco, after which we embark in a 'Caccia al Tartufo' (truffle hunting) in the woods with a local expert guide and his dog. Alba is in the heart of the Tartufo region, where the very rare, expensive and world famous truffle is harvested. It is used in the best restaurants all over the world.
Day 4 - Piemonte Cooking Day
A delightful day awaits us! We will introduce you to the traditional cuisine of Piemonte, based on staples such as risotto, agnolotti (small ravioli), polenta, braised meat with a Barolo reduction sauce and many seasonal garden vegetables, as well as .. of course..tartufo! We will gather at a family winery in a panoramic location on the hills and prepare some of these dishes. You have the tremendous opportunity to experiment with the typical Piemonte flavours and ingredients and assemble to create local recipes. Lunch will follow, paired with wines.
In the afternoon, after our espresso, we return to Alba, where you will have free time to walking in the Roman historic centre and visit the elegant fashion boutiques and/or food & wine shops.
Day 5 - A day in Genoa
Queen of the sea, and a city with a glorious history, Genova arouses conflicting feelings and this is also due to the fact that it has two facets: port on the Mediterranean from open to traffic with the countries that overlook it and the city of merchants and bankers, known by all as the most English city in Italy. Fascinating the narrow streets of the Old Town, the famous carruggi, the elegant buildings that alternate with humble houses, the beautiful churches with their austere marble facades in black and white stripes or opulent in their baroque lines. Throughout the city is visible the sign of the historical period, the seventeenth century, in which the great Genovese families reached the maximum wealth.
Day 6 - Marble mountains on our way to Tuscany
Breakfast and check out by 09:00. On the route to Tuscany, we will stop for a visit to a unique site: the marble quarries of Carrara, supplying the raw material for architectural and artistic works that embellish squares, palaces and private buildings all over the world. After a tasting of the famous Lardo di Colonnata IGP paired with local Sangiovese, we depart for Castellina in Chianti where we check in at our spa-hotel located in the centre of the village, in an ancient palace of the 11th century, now restored.
Day 7 - Wines of Chianti Classico and history of San Gimignano
After breakfast we drive through the Chianti Classico hills and we stop in Radda and Gaiole in Chianti. We visit an ancient monastery and palace, which hosts historical underground wine cellars and we learn and taste their production. After lunch we depart for San Gimignano the home of the first white Italian DOC wine, which is now a well-known DOCG (the top Italian wine appellation), made with Vernaccia grapes. The village is one of the most fascinating medieval towns in Italy with many stone tall towers marking the landscape. Free time here to discover the many stores and artisan products.
Day 8 - Meet the Brunello di Montalcino and the Val d'Orcia
The Brunello di Montalcino wine, made 100% of Sangiovese Grosso, has a great potential to age due to the grape’s thick skin rich in tannins. Expect some great wine tasting here! We visit the town of Montalcino, its castle and the Enoteca, then move on to Pienza and Bagno Vignone in the Val d’Orcia. The landscape of Val d’Orcia: “…a distinctive aesthetics, flat chalk plains out of which rise almost conical hills with fortified settlements on top, inspired many artists. Their images have come to exemplify the beauty of well-managed Renaissance agricultural landscapes…” (UNESCO world heritage site since 2004)
Day 9 - Blending with the locals
Today is the day to become acquainted with the true Tuscan cuisine with our lovely mamma Vilma. Vilma works and lives in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, near Firenze where she owns a homemade pasta shop. Her passion for Tuscan cuisine is in her eyes, you will notice it right away! First of all, in the morning, after our cappuccino (remember…cappuccino is a breakfast item for Italians…..!) we blend in with the locals in the piazza, perhaps discussing politics and soccer. If you are familiar with Italian language, you recognize that beautiful Florentine accent everywhere. We then participate in a demo and hands-on pasta making seminar. We put our hands at work while making all kinds of fresh pasta shapes: tortelli, ravioli, fettuccine and more. As an Italian meal does not only include pasta, we gather around Vilma’s kitchen where we cook the rest of the meal, eat, taste wine … and perhaps even have a siesta! What a day!
Day 10 - End of tour in the morning in Florence
After breakfast and check out we depart for Florence where we the tour ends.
Day 8 - From Alba to Cinque Terre
Cinque terre: ”a cultural site of outstanding value” — World Heritage Committee. We check out by 09:00. We stop at the University of Gastronomical Science, the first of its kind, founded by the Slow Food movement and visit the famous Banca del Vino. After a short drive through the Appennini mountains and small villages, we jump on one of the most picturesque highways in Italy: the Torino-Savona. Early afternoon we reach the coast of Liguria and our destination: the enchanting villages of Cinque Terre. The evening offers a fish based dinner paired with local Vementino wine.
Day 9 - Village hopping in Cinque Terre
Train, boat, short trail on foot. We will try them all today! From our hotel, we take the short and beautiful train ride to Riomaggiore, the first of the 5 villages. Our daily pass, included in the package, is a convenient and easy way to travel in Cinque Terre. From Riomaggiore we walk one of the most famous trails in the world called “La Via dell’Amore”. No words for this. . . Unbeatable views! Then … a boat ride to the next village! (or the train again, if you don’t feel at ease to use sea transportation). Always accompanied by Antonio, we hop from one village to the other, with free time for you to shop and discover on your own. Cinque Terre is rich with culinary products and local enoteche where to stop and try the famous Sciacchetra’ dessert wine, among the best sweet wines in the world! We cheer our Arrivederci! with a delightful dinner! And no tears allowed, please! We will be back!!!
Antonio's Tips for CINQUE TERRE
After the extravagance of the past days, you deserve to spend the last day of the tour in a unique site, proclaimed a world heritage site by UNESCO. The Cinque Terre are five small villages embedded like stones in the rocks, steeply descending to the sea. The best way to travel here is by train, boat or foot. Remember that this is a day to rest, enjoy the water view and the soothing sound of the waves. From the hotel, located on the sea, you can take a short train ride to any of the other villages. A convenient and inexpensive daily pass, that can be purchased at any train station, is an easy, simple way to travel in Cinque Terre. Don’t miss a walk on the world-famous trail on the sea cliff called “La Via dell’Amore”. If you want, you can also take a boat ride to complete your ‘village-hopping’ day! You will have lots of time to discover their culinary products and to stop at the enoteche to try the above mentioned Sciacchetra’. Of course, there is always wine. Man was able to cultivate these steep mountains by building terraces. The challenge is up at harvest time! Monorails with carts are driven by patient farmers who go up and down several times to harvest just a few bunches. The most cultivated grape is Vermentino, whose wine is best paired with the local fish cuisine. One of the best dessert wines I have ever tried is produced on these hills and it is called Sciacchetra’. Definitely something to try: it will make the entire trip worthwhile!