Exploring the Northern Italian Countryside

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Turin is the capital of the Piedmont region of Italy, and it’s a good base if you want to explore the charming villages and wine country that surrounds it. My parents, Jeremy, and I set out from Turin to drive to Cinque Terre along the coast, but after a late start, decided the journey was too much to do in a day, and settled for driving to Alba instead, famous for its white truffles. The drive was only about an hour, and much of it was through pretty countryside, where you could see villages perched atop hills surrounded by vineyards.

DSC_4581Immediately when we arrived in Alba and exited the car, Jeremy and I looked at each other and exclaimed that the air smelled very sweet. We had landed in some magical village that smelled entirely of chocolate. I remembered that I read that the Nutella factory was in the region, so I knew it must be it. We were determined to take a tour of the factory, but finally found out that it wasn’t open to the public. What a shame.

The city of Alba is proud of their Nutella heritage.

The city of Alba is proud of their Nutella heritage.

We spent the afternoon leisurely walking around Alba, eating a nice lunch, and visiting a couple churches. Truffles were not in season so we didn’t get to try any, but Alba was still a very nice town to visit.

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I love Italy’s brightly-colored buildings.

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After leaving Alba, we kept driving west to Barolo, famous for its excellent wines. As a friend of mine put it on Instagram: “The king of wines, and the wine of kings.” We found a big winery/resort and Jeremy and I went wine tasting. We tried at least eight wines, and they were not tiny pours. They were all delicious, but we only actually tried two types of Barolo at the end, and they blew all of the other wines out of the water. They were also the most expensive by a long shot. We walked away with some nice wines, but had to pass on spending the money on the Barolo. (Side note: I discovered online that the Barolo vineyards have just been made into UNESCO World Heritage sites a few days ago, which is pretty cool.)

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Barolo vineyards.

We then drove into the center of Barolo, and walked around its narrow, winding roads and alleys, and admired the beautiful views.

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I have to also mention the best meal we’ve had during our travels by far (and which led to the worst run of my life), a few nights after our excursion to Alba and Barolo. It was in a tiny village called Revigliasco in the hills above Turin, and the restaurant was La Taverna di Fra Fiusch (not easy to remember). My parents treated me and Jeremy to a wonderful meal, and it was the most full I’ve ever been in my life. I was actually sad that I was so full after the second course because I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat all of the third and fourth courses. I didn’t get pictures of all the food served, but I managed to take a couple.

 

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Cute little village of Revigliasco.

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I know this is just a bread basket… but it was the most delicious bread I’ve ever had, especially the focaccia straight out of the oven. It also contributed to my extreme fullness, which is a rookie mistake. Never fill up on bread when you have four courses yet to come.

Course one – I really wish I had written the menu down so I could remember what all it entailed.

Course one – I really wish I had written the menu down so I could remember what all it entailed. The pesto “mousse” with burrata on top on the right was incredible.

Dessert – a work of art that consisted of pistachio cake, told you I can't resist pistachio.

Dessert – a work of art that consisted of pistachio cake and some extremely delicious sauces.

7 comments

  1. Your dinners sounds like it was incredible. The courses you shared remind me of the food served at La Quercia in Vancouver. If you’re ever in Vancouver, I recommend you try it!

  2. That reminds me of the village of Gruyere in Switzerland–it smells like cheese. And there’s another village with a Nestle factory and wow the chocolate smell is amazing. Visual AND olfactory tourism!

  3. I wish it smelled like chocolate where I live! (Actually I live near a spice plant so occasionally it does smell very good outside, but chocolate would be even more awesome.) These photos are gorgeous…this is basically my dream destination!

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