Fine wine, truffles, medieval villages, and a surprising contemporary art scene—what more could you want? You’ll find all this and more in Piedmont: an under-the-radar region in northern Italy. Rent a car and road trip through the countryside, stopping at wineries, indulging in the local cuisine, and staying in one of the region’s chic new sustainable hotels. Journalist and Italy expert Laura Itzkowitz shares her HAP official guide below.
Located in the countryside of Cremolino, this 12-room boutique hotel was built around an 800-year-old farmhouse, but the design leans more streamlined Scandinavian than rustic countryside inn. Wander the gardens, then settle into the bistro for a glass of Barbera di Monferrato from the resort’s Calligram line of wine paired with seasonal specialties like creamy mushroom risotto with Castelmagno cheese and hazelnuts.
Nestled in a valley in the heart of the Langhe Hills, this newcomer is a member of Beyond Green, a global portfolio of sustainable hotels, resorts, and lodges that is operated by Preferred Travel Group. Relax at the outdoor pool or, if it’s too cold outside, retreat to the spa for a massage incorporating local honey and hazelnut oil.
A member of Slow Food, this no-frills osteria in Alba is the best place to try local Piemontese specialties. Start with vitello tonnato (veal in tuna sauce) and then order whatever seasonal pasta is on offer. Finish with the bonet, a sort of chocolate flan with crumbled amaretti cookies.
Piedmont has many Michelin-starred restaurants, but this one inside Relais San Maurizio (a member of the Leading Hotels of the World) is an unparalleled experience. Set in the old stone-walled cellars of the ancient monastery-turned-hotel, it boasts a romantic atmosphere and serves elegant interpretations of classic Piemontese dishes.
Piedmont may be famous for Barolo and Barbaresco, but its capital Turin is also the birthplace of vermouth. There’s no better place to sip vermouth-based cocktails than Bar Cavour, an intimate lounge above the historic Farmacia Del Cambio, a pharmacy-turned-restaurant originally opened in 1757.
On an unpaved country lane cutting through a swath of vineyards stands an incongruous sight. With exteriors painted by Sol LeWitt and interiors by English artist David Tremlett, the riotously colorful Barolo Chapel is a pilgrimage site for art lovers visiting Piedmont.
After stopping by the Barolo Chapel, head over to Cantine Damilano, one of Piedmont’s leading wineries. At their shop in La Morra, you can taste the exquisite Barolos and other wines the historic winery is famous for and purchase bottles at discounted prices.
Deep in the woods of the Alta Langa, this art gallery/artist residency occupies a complex of restored rural homes where co-founders Claudia Zunino and her partner Francesco Pistoi live alongside his mother Eva Menzio, former director of Monaco’s Marlborough Gallery. They host a couple of group shows per year and open the gallery to visitors by appointment.
It’s worth spending a few hours exploring the small Medieval city of Alba, which hosts a white truffle festival every fall (it’s currently on until December 4). The pedestrian streets branching out from Piazza Risorgimento, where the City Hall is located, are lined with shops selling everything from clothes and accessories to—you guessed it—truffles. For the best selection of truffle products, stop by Tartufi Morra, established in 1930. Then pop into one of the bakeries and try baci di dama, hazelnut sandwich cookies with a layer of chocolate in between.