Land of wine and truffles
A journey to the realm of King Barolo, the undisputed leader of wines from Langhe.
This journey through the lush and fertile land of Langhe commences in Asti, a city famous for its historic Palio horse race and even more so for its wine, produced here since the Middle Ages and so present in the culture and traditions of the city that it has become one of Piedmont's principal production centers, with 14 of Asti's wines achieving D.O.C status. The picturesque streets of the medieval center are lined with historic town houses, elegant shops and wine bars. The Romanesque crypt of S. Anastasio is well worth a visit.
From Asti we travel past Alba, where Piedmont's famous white truffles grow, to Roddi, to experience an atmosphere of times past and taste the town's excellent gastronomic products. Not to be missed: a tour of Roddi's ancient castle, a superb example of medieval defense architecture, now often used as exhibition center.
The history of Barolo, situated South of Alba in the heart of the Lands of Savoy, is linked to that of the Ferretti dynasty, once resident in its castle. The fortress is now home to the Enoteca Regionale del Barolo and the town's Ethnographic and Wine Museum. Among the illustrious guests to have stayed within the 16th century castle's walls, one of the most famous was the poet and dramatist Silvio Pellico, who spent the final years of his life here. The room where he composed his Duties of Men can still be visited. In the summer, the streets of Barolo are alive with any number of gastronomic events, wine festivals, and costumed parades. In addition to the world famous wine, Barolo also produces hazelnuts, a typical product of Langa, and one of the principal ingredients used in the area's delicious desserts and confectionery.
Novello is an attractive hillside town, many of the medieval edifices of which have been transformed into elegant little hotels. The Castle, once owned by the Marquis of Monferrato, dominates the town. Although the building of the impressive fortress was only completed in the 1800's, it occupies the site of a pre-existing 13th century castle and features a number of carefully modified elements of Gothic architecture. Novello is one of the principal production areas not only of Piedmont's world-famous Barolo and Nebbiolo wines, but also the decidedly drinkable, albeit more modest, Barbera and Dolcetto.
Like Novello, the town of Mango is dominated by its ancient castle, once the residence of the Marquis of Busca. This land was dear to Alba-born writer, Beppe Fenoglio, who brilliantly described its traditional farming community in his most famous work, Johnny the Partisan. Not far from here, en route to Aqui Terme, is the town of Benevello, which inspired the author to write another of his Piedmont based novels, Ruin.
Acqui Terme, close to the Ligurian Apennines, occupies a strategic position on the Via Emilia road. Traces of the town's ancient Roman origins include an aqueduct, just outside the center of Acqui Terme, one of the most impressive Roman Imperial conduits in the whole of Northern Italy. As the name suggests, the town is famous for its thermal waters, which surface in the center of the town in the Piazza della Bollente and where, legend has it, new-born babies were once immersed in the boiling water in a horrific test of their resilience!