We meet at the central train station in Turin (Torino) and take a short 1-hour ride in a comfortable and private mini coach to our first hotel in the heart of Piemonte’s wine country. Our stay in the town of Alba, in the wine region of Langhe, starts with a wine pairing dinner.
Day 2 - Barolo is Nebbiolo!
His majesty “The Barolo Wine” awaits us at the Enoteca Regionale, located in a magnificent castle in the town of Barolo. We learn about the different styles of Barolo with a local guide at the Enoteca, and the challenge is to distinguish between old and new style Barolo producers. You will certainly be able to do so after a side-by-side tasting of the different styles.
In the afternoon, we are off to visit the campus of the world’s first university specialized in…food! Università del Gusto was founded by Slow Food – the international movement started right in Piemonte by Carlo Petrini in 2003. We stay in the quaint village of Pollenzo.
Day 3 - Barbaresco, Che Passione!
After breakfast, we drive uphill to the village of Barbaresco. Some people call Barbaresco wine the younger brother of Barolo, but I totally disagree. And you’ll find out why 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. Afterwards, we embark on a “Caccia al Tartufo” (truffle hunting) journey 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 then used in the best restaurants all over the world.
Day 4 - Piemonte Cooking Day
A delightful day in Piemonte awaits us! We will introduce you to the traditional cuisine of Piemonte, which features staples such as risotto, agnolotti (small ravioli), polenta, braised meat with a Barolo reduction sauce, many seasonal garden vegetables, and of course…tartufo! We will gather at a family winery with panoramic views of the hills and prepare some of these dishes. You will have the amazing opportunity to experiment with typical Piemonte flavours and ingredients while recreating local recipes. Lunch will follow, paired with wines.
In the afternoon, after our espresso, we will return to Alba where you will have free time to walk around the Roman historic centre and visit the elegant fashion boutiques and wonderful food and wine shops.
Day 5 - A Day in Genoa
Genoa is the queen of the sea and a city with glorious history. It is an important Mediterranean port, a city of merchants and bankers, and known by all as the most English city in Italy. The city is home to fascinating narrow streets in the Old Town, the famous carruggi, both elegant buildings and humble houses, and beautiful churches with austere marble facades in black and white stripes or opulent baroque lines. The influence of the historical seventeenth century, during which the great Genovese families reached maximum wealth, is visible throughout the city.
Day 6 - Marble Mountains on our Way to Tuscany
We begin the day with breakfast, followed by hotel check-out by 09:00. On route to Tuscany, we will stop for a visit to the unique marble quarries of Carrara, which have supplied the raw material for many architectural and artistic works in 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 and restored 11th-century palace.
Day 7 - Wines of Chianti Classico and History of San Gimignano
After breakfast, we drive through the Chianti Classico hills and stop in Radda and Gaiole in Chianti. We visit an ancient monastery and palace, which hosts historical underground wine cellars, to taste their wine and learn about its 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) and made with Vernaccia grapes. The village is one of the most fascinating medieval towns in Italy with many tall stone towers marking the landscape. You will have 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 of 100% Sangiovese Grosso, has great potential to age due to the grape’s thick skin, which is rich in tannins. You can expect some great wine tasting here! We visit the town of Montalcino, its castle and the Enoteca, and then move onto Pienza and Bagno Vignone in the Val d’Orcia.
Val d’Orcia’s “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 we become acquainted with 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 and you will notice it right away!
In the morning, after our cappuccino (remember, cappuccino is a breakfast item for Italians), we blend in with the locals in the piazza. If you are familiar with the Italian language, you will recognize that beautiful Florentine accent all around you.
We then participate in a demo and hands-on pasta-making seminar. We put our hands to work making all kinds of fresh pasta, and 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 Florence
After breakfast and check-out, we depart for Florence where 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!