Perhaps best known for its annual Palio, a 700-year-old bare-back horse race replete with pageantry and tradition, Asti also has a lot to offer architecturally and gastronomically. The Northern Italian city once had more than 70 towers, which symbolized wealth and power. While there are less of them punctuating Asti’s skyline today, the city also features impressive churches and palazzi, beautiful brickwork, and varied architectural styles ranging from Gothic to Baroque to Renaissance.
Which of these finestre are you most drawn to?
Continue reading “The Windows of Asti, Piemonte, Italy”
In the vineyard-dressed landscape of the Langhe, in Italy’s Piedmont region, hillsides rise steeply on one side, then drop off more gradually on the other. The name ‘Langhe’ is believed to have Celtic roots, meaning ‘tongues of land,’ alluding to these steep hillsides, and the area’s raised valleys. Our host, Marco Scaglione, from Meet Piemonte, described it this way:
“The Langhe’s soil has more of a clay composition, whereas the neighboring Monferrato and Roero districts tend to be more sandy. Imagine if you dropped a handful of sand onto a table top; the sand would form into a cone of sorts — more rolling, more gradual. Clay, however, can be molded into more steep hillsides and valleys.”
Like the Roero and the Monferrato, the Langhe landscape is also inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Continue reading “Piedmont, Italy: The Wine Landscapes of the Langhe”
When you think of Italy, it’s likely that home-cooked pasta, verdant agricultural landscapes, and gourmet food products like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and traditional balsamic vinegar come to mind. A lesser-known concept is that of the agriturismo — a compound noun that marries the Italian words for ‘agriculture’ and ‘tourism.’
As the name implies, an agriturismo is a place where visitors can find lodging, meals, and even hands-on experience on a working farm. Some agriturismi are elegant and resort-like, while others are more informal places where guests can get their hands dirty and learn the art of viticulture, olive harvesting, or virtually any aspect of small-scale food production. Most agriturismi serve food that has been grown on-site, or sourced locally. In addition, income from tourism helps supplement profits earned from traditional farming pursuits.
Continue reading “Pastoral Piedmont: An Agriturismo & Epicurean Experience in Italy”
Motoring through Italy’s Piemonte or Piedmont region, I sometimes felt as though I’d been whisked back in time a few decades, perhaps even centuries. The dramatic hills of the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato districts were wrapped with rows of grapevines and orchards, crowned with handsome fortresses, and dotted with villages wearing terra-cotta rooftops. Large-scale industry was largely absent from this swathe of the Northern Italian landscape, and that’s much of what made it so visually appealing.
With just weeks to go before the grape and white truffle harvests, the enthusiasm among the locals was already palpable. Together with our local guide, Marco from Meet Piemonte, Shawn and I would spend two days exploring pockets of Piedmont. This article highlights our time in the Monferrato district, to include the city of Asti, home to the famous Palio horserace, plus wine-tasting and truffle hunting excursions in the countryside. My other post in this series focuses upon the nearby Langhe-Roero hills, including the elegant city of Alba.
Continue reading “Piedmont, Italy: Monferrato’s Slow Food, Wine & Truffles”