When someone talks about Italy, where do you think of first? Likely the bustling and historic Rome, the mystical canals of Venice, or perhaps the idyllic and colorful Amalfi Coast. I’d bet that the Piedmont region is pretty low on that mental ranking.
Tucked up in the northwest of Italy, Piedmont doesn’t have quite the cache quite like some of the other regions of Italy. Even its biggest city, Turin, often gets overlooked or, if anything, used as a transit hub en route somewhere else.
But suppose you’re willing to go beyond the guidebooks and Instagram influencers. In that case, you’ll see why the Piedmont region is one of the best and most underrated in Italy. In fact, for the more gastronomically inclined, there are a few reasons why Piedmont should be at the top of your Italian bucket list.
Arguably the Best Wine in Italy
You probably think of the Tuscan reds like the Chianti when you think of Italian wine. And for a good reason, they’re undoubtedly delicious. But the Piedmont region is home to the Wine of Kings, the great Barolo.
Barolo wine is made from the Nebbiolo grape, predominantly grown in the Langhe subregion of Piedmont. Typically, Barolos are aged at least 38 months, 18 of which are in wood barrels.
The Barolo calling card is the signature “tar and roses” aroma, bright ruby red color, firm tannins, and high acidity. A wine that is perfect for drinking during any season but particularly tasty when paired with hearty and decadent meals in the Fall.
Try them for yourself; Piedmont is littered with wineries – perfect for a day or two of wine tasting and touring. And if the Barolo is not your style, the Piedmont region is also home to more wine varieties such as the Barbera, Nebbiolo, and even the Moscato.
Barolo at G.D. VAJRA Winery
The Food is Outrageously Good
While you’re drinking some of the best wine in the world, you can gorge yourself on the simple yet decadent food of the Piedmont region.
The town of Bra is widely credited as the birthplace of the “slow food” movement. But the simple tenants of sourcing food locally, preparing it traditionally, and enjoying it with good company can be found throughout the region. As such, stopping in a random osteria in Piedmont is hardly a gamble.
Nearby you’ll find the town of Alba, which is famous for the Tartufo Bianco d’Alba, or the Alba White Truffle. People have been coming to Alba for centuries looking for the famed truffle. Possibly the most famous dish in the region is the tajarin al tartufo – homemade pasta with butter and freshly shaved white truffles. But if you travel to Piedmont during the truffle harvest season in the Fall, seemingly every meal is topped with the delicate truffle.
Tajarin al tartufo at Osteria la Libera
Piedmont is Spectacularly Beautiful
If the food and wine weren’t enough to convince you, the entire Piedmont region is beautiful. Like Tuscany, Piedmont is full of old villages and castles perched upon rolling hills. What sets Piedmont apart is the backdrop of the snowcapped Italian Alps to the west.
The best way to experience Piedmont is to rent a car and drive through the region, making pit stops in villages along the way. Eventually, after enough time driving and meandering through the winding roads, one will beckon you to wander its streets. Pick a village, any village – the tattered cobblestone will tell you its history.
Le Case Della Saracca in Monforte d’Alba
So have I convinced you to not overlook the Piedmont region yet? Sure, you may not be able to post that picture of the Amalfi Coast or get lost in the meandering canals of Venice. And you’ll have to wait to visit the great monuments of Rome. But when you take a trip to the Piedmont region, you’ll arguably be happier eating decadent pasta and sipping fine wine, all while looking across its lush rolling hills.