Why You Should Head To Italy’s Piedmont This Autumn
A new gastro-hotel is opening up Piedmont, the unsung hero of Italy to a new breed of visitors. With rolling countryside that is UNESCO-protected and snow-capped mountains on the horizon, it’s a region strewn with fantastic wineries, dotted with Michelin starred restaurants and rich in truffles. The Piedmontese are a people passionately connected to their land, and this is what makes a visit to the understated area quite so unique — especially in autumn, its landscape transforms into a riot of ambers and reds.
Where to stay
The chicest new address in Piedmont is Nordelaia. Set in a pink 800-year-old farmhouse on a generous estate outside the untouched, hilltop town of Cremolino, it’s surrounded by the soothing undulating hills of Monferrato. It has twelve stylish bedrooms, all with a unique palette — we love the Primavera Suite with its elegant four-poster bed, delicate ceiling frescoes inspired by bird nests, and a roll-top bath in the bedroom. There are also thoughtfully designed communal spaces, terraced gardens with cabanas and hammocks for lounging, and a heated outdoor pool for morning swims accompanied by a mesmerizing autumnal mist. To double down on the relaxation front, there’s a full-on spa with Kneipp therapy pools, a hammam, and Ayurvedic treatments.
Where to eat
Start close to home with dinner at L’Orto, Nordelaia’s own fantastic fine dining restaurant set in a beautiful glass and brick outbuilding. It makes the most of Piedmontese cuisine and produces as well as that of neighbouring Liguria, but interestingly it focuses on vegetables and seafood, unlike its largely meaty competitors. Its barbecued cabbage with chicken jus is a must-order.
In the nearby medieval town of Alba, the triple Michelin-starred Piazza Duomo is a foodie’s dream. Impeccable produce arrives twice a day from the restaurant’s own farm and diners are delighted by its pink frescoed walls. There’s no A La Carte menu, instead, there are gastronomic journeys to be had, helmed by chef Enrico Crippa — so relax and let yourself be whisked away.
In Bra, which is where the Slow Food movement originated in the 1980s, book into the charming and family-run Battaglino where traditional Piedmontese dishes have been served for more than a century alongside wines from the Coppa vineyard.
Further away in Turin, the elegant Italian city which is gaining momentum all of its own, try to get a table at Al Gatto Nero, a favourite of gourmands, Odd and Mimi Thorisson. With its original 60s charm, the Vanelli family runs it with a panache that keeps locals coming back for its Piedmontese meets Tuscan cooking.
What to do & see
As well as multitudes of castles and cathedrals to visit in the area, there are some physical exertions to be had in the form of hiking and biking trails in the Capanne di Marcarolo Natural Regional Park — but wine and truffles provide the main distractions in Piedmont.
Its magnificent landscape is home to some of Italy’s finest reds, including Barolo and Barbaresco, and there are many wineries worth a visit. Try sparkling wines at the family-run Coppo in Canelli, a temple of wine whose underground halls are so hallowed, that they are UNESCO-protected. Next, drop into Ceretto Winery a love letter to the Langhe region since 1930. Ceretto Family is a partner with Enrico Crippa for the restaurant Piazza Duomo, a three-star Michelin restaurant in Piazza Risorgimento in Alba.
Speaking of art, there are some contemporary installations to have on your radar during your Piedmontese adventure. Start with the Capella del Barolo (also known as the Chapel of the Madonna Delle Grazie) in La Morra, which sits alongside the Ceretto family’s vineyard. In 1999, a passion and interest in contemporary art were born, and Ceretto Family involved David Tremlett, he realized the interior of the chapel, and Sol LeWitt who made the exterior of the Barolo Chapel and painted it in technicolor.
Then, naturally, your attention should turn to white truffle hunting. Piedmont is the heart of Italy’s tartufo tradition and the pinnacle of its three month season is the Alba Truffle Fair in November. Join a truffle hunt through the Langhe hills organised by Nordelaia or time your visit with the festival to really immerse yourself in the white truffle culture of the region.
How to get there
Milan and Genova's airports are just an hour away from Nordelaia.
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