Back dropped by the snow capped peaks of the Alps, Piedmont is a superb destination for food and wine connoisseurs, as well as all Italophiles. Bordered by France and Switzerland, the rolling hills of this fertile region are planted with vineyards that produce some of the world’s great wines, notably Barolo and Barbaresco. And the elegant city of Turin charms with its spectacular baroque architecture, fine museums and outstanding cafés and restaurants.
Piedmont abounds with delicacies, including exceptional beef; excellent cheeses such as Castelmagno; Gianduiotto chocolates; and Arborio rice, which is grown on the wet plains around the towns of Vercelli and Novara. Its most famous culinary product, however, remains hidden until a brief season from late September to the end of November. This is when farmers using specially trained dogs take to the hills and forests of the Langhe and Monferrato districts in search of the pungent and astronomically expensive white truffles prized all over the world. Delicious mushrooms, including porcini, are in season at the same time.
Since I’m an avid truffle hound myself and love the great wines of the Piedmont, I decided to spend 10 days in the region last fall. Since then, a day has rarely passed when I haven’t recalled the sublime meals and tastings we enjoyed during our relaxing tour. Piedmont should be on everyone’s bucket list. Be forewarned, however: It is a very popular destination during truffle season, and reservations must be made well in advance.