Riserva delle

Langhe

Riserva delle

Langhe

Wine Soul

Blessed with relaxing landscapes and villages gracefully perched on the peeking hilltops, the Langhe are among top Italian destinations. Flourishing vineyards and magnificent castles make this Piedmontese area a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site; with a soul profoundly vowed to viticulture, the Langhe are home to regal wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco. Its lands, however, also treasure other precious gems: the rare white truffles, hazelnut trees and heritage fruit varieties... other souls to unveil.

Discover all the excellence in this Riserva

  • Places & Landscapes
  • Culture
  • Food & Wine
  • Passionate Individuals
  • Events

An Unconventional Job

The white truffle:
a Langhe & Monferrato
 affair

An Unconventional Job

The white truffle: a Langhe & Monferrato affair

From September to December white truffles are harvested from their earthy homes in the hills of the Langhe and the Monferrato.

Their scientific name being tuber magnatum, white truffles are only found in specific areas of Italy, Croatia and France. However, only those from Langhe and Monferrato acquire the distinctive full, rich taste and aroma of quality white truffles, making the fungi from these small Piedmontese areas extremely prized. 

One of the biggest truffles ever found weighed 1.5 kilos and sold for over $300,000.

In the past, looking for truffles in open ground was almost always carried out with special pigs, named truffle hogs. However, over the years it has become customary to use purpose-trained dogs; any dog could potentially be trained to scout for truffles but the Lagotto Romagnolo is currently the preferred breed according to trainers and truffle hunters.


Unlike female pigs, which have an innate instinct to look for truffles, dogs have to be trained and they are being increasingly used for scouting as they don’t develop the tendency to eat the expensive find! In Italy, hunting for truffles with hogs has actually even been prohibited since 1985 due to damage caused by the maladroit animals to the delicate mycelia that consent the growth of truffles.

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So how does the ‘hunt’ work? Truffle-hunters, or trifolao in Piedmontese dialect, usually wake-up at around 2:30 a.m. At nighttime and dusk, the earth is cooler, and the smell of truffles is stronger. Truffle-hunters expertly search the well-known woods, accompanied by one or more dogs, until the sun begins to peep through the autumn leaves. Hunting spots are a secret that truffle-hunters hope darkness will keep!

The best spots to find truffles are under oak, hazel, poplar and beech trees.

Although truffle-farming has proven to be increasingly successful over the years, only black truffles grow on induction, while white ones can only be found in the wild. This means that truffle-rich spots are a treasured knowledge and the best locations are passed down from father to son, generation after generation of trifolao


If you’re in Piedmont during autumn months, don’t miss the Fiera del Tartufo in Alba, Langhe, during October and November and the smaller Fiera Trifola d’Or (fair of the golden truffle) in Murisengo, Monferrato, held at the end of November.

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Some Like it Raw

Alba-style Meat

Some Like it Raw

Alba-style Meat

Alba style raw meat refers to two similar dishes, both served as appetisers: a sort of hand-chopped tartare or a dish of thinly sliced carpaccio-style raw veal.

Although they are both very popular in Piedmont, especially in the area of Alba and the Langhe, the chopped version is the original recipe, as butchers did not have the possibility to thinly slice meat in the past.


The quality of the meat is paramount to the success of the dish, and selecting it properly is very important. 

If you are in the area and would like to attempt making the dish yourself, go to one of the many local butchers or head to Bra, the home of Piedmontese beef, and visit renowned Macelleria Tibaldi or Macelleria Aprato.


Preparation of the dish begins by chopping the meat very finely with a long-bladed knife. You might think “why not a blender?” …We advise you not to pose that question when in the Langhe, or you’ll get some very disapproving looks! Using a grinder destroys the meat’s fibres and the texture of the meat suffers greatly, that’s why locals rigorously use the traditional knife method.

Once the cutting is done, the meat is put in a bowl and seasoned with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and is left to marinate for a maximum of two hours


During truffle season, the meat is served with precious truffle shavings.

During the rest of the year, carne all’albese is simply served with lemon and slivers of Parmesan.  Either way, it's delicious.

Most restaurants in the area offer this local specialty on their menus, so be sure to try it before leaving the Langhe!


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To Enjoy Your Wine You Need to Open the Bottle!

Barolo's Corkscew 
Museum

To Enjoy Your Wine You Need to Open the Bottle!

Barolo's Corkscew Museum

There are many different ways to open a bottle of wine and this museum has them all! The Corkscrew Museum opened in 2006 in a former wine cellar next to the Castle of Barolo. 

The museum boasts a collection of 500 corkscrews from all over the world.

Offering an amazing journey through the centuries, the museum shows the evolution of this humble - though so useful - tool, with the oldest items dating back to the 1600s!


A special section is dedicated to antique postcards featuring the corkscrew as their main subject.

Visitors can admire simple T-shaped tools and technically more advanced designs in a variety of materials such as wood, iron, aluminium, brass, bone, horn, ebony, mother-of-pearl, bronze, ivory, silver and tortoiseshell. 

A section of the museum is dedicated to precious miniature corkscrews used to open vials of perfume or medicines: they are considered the precursors of the modern corkscrew.

The corkscrew was invented to extract a cork from a glass container, though not necessarily a bottle of wine, and the first corkscrew registered patent dates back to 1795 and belongs to the British Reverend Samuel Henshall. 


At the beginning of the 18th century glass containers were fragile and costly and they did not come in standard sizes. For this reason selling wine in glass bottles was forbidden in Italy until 1728 - and also to prevent wine merchants cheating on the quantities they sold! With the introduction of more robust, standard-sized bottles the use of cork to seal them became more common and using a specific tool to remove the cork became necessary.


The museum allows you to walk through the history of the corkscrew in a spectacular setting and with the aid of informative panels in Italian, English and German.

In the attractive museum store and bookshop you will find a rich selection of corkscrews and other wine-related items, souvenirs, postcards, gadgets, typical gastronomy products of Langhe and, last but certainly not least, bottles of Barolo and other local wines. 

The store is also a tourist information point run in cooperation with the Langhe and Roero Tourist Board. For other details and opening hours, visit the museum’s official website.

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Not Only Wine on the Langhe's Hills

Langhe Sheep

Not Only Wine on the Langhe's Hills

Langhe Sheep

With a white fleece, long slim legs and no horns, even in the ram, the Langhe sheep (also known as “Langarola”) is a medium sized sheep bred in the higher Langhe hills. 

While sheep-farming was once a vital part of family country life and a main source of income, this activity has declined in more recent years so that the Langarola was almost extinct at the beginning of the 21st century, with less than 3000 heads throughout Italy, whereas it had been very popular in the 1950s. 

The dramatic drop in number occurred during the 1990s, when changing life conditions and dietary habits brought about a decrease in sheep farming.

Although still in danger of extinction, today the breed is popular again.

This is also thanks to the efforts of the Slow Food organisation, which promotes local produce: the typical Toma di Murazzano, a highly appreciated cheese, DOP (protected denomination) and a Slow Food presidium, is in fact made from the milk of this breed of sheep.


If this wooly story has touched your heart, why not adopt a Langhe Sheep? With 75 € you can be made “honorary shepherd” for a year!


The adoption kit contains:

  • the official adoption certificate
  • a jar containing some “Langhe ground”, as a symbol for the bond you made with the land
  • an informative card about the producer
  • a picture of the sheep you adopted with the sheep’s name
  • a Langhe map, showing where the herd and sheep you adopted are located
  • 6 Toma di Murazzano


If sheep-farming is not your thing and adopting a sheep doesn’t make it into your list of New Year's resolutions, well… then you may just want to visit one of the many producers in Murazzano and buy a Toma to enjoy with a good Langhe wine!



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Piedmont's Traditional Dessert

Bonet

Piedmont's Traditional Dessert

Bonet

Traditionally consumed in the colder months, bonèt is perhaps the most typical dessert of the Piedmont region, especially Langhe, Turing and the Monferrato area. 

A rich spoon dessert made with amaretti biscuits, records suggest that it was served at noble banquets as far back as the 13th century.

In Piedmontese dialect, the word ‘bonet’ means hat and there are two theories as to why the dessert took on this name: the most likely reason is that it was named after the copper mould it was cooked in, shaped like a chef’s hat, but many Piedmontese will assert that its name comes from the fact that the bonèt is the last thing you eat in a meal, just as a hat is the last thing you put on before leaving a restaurant or friend’s home.


Made in a similar way to a crème caramel, the original Bonèt recipe contained only eggs, milk, sugar and amaretti cookies. 

These days, everyone knows and loves the version containing chocolate and hazelnuts, which may both feature as a sprinkled or melted layer on top of the caramelized sugar or may be mixed into the custard. 

The addition of chocolate to the recipe was only made possible after the discovery of the Americas, when cocoa became available in Europe, but has now largely been accepted as the traditional recipe. As a matter of fact, you probably won’t find a Bonèt without chocolate!

If you’re in the area and sit down for a good meal, of course don’t forget your hat, but also don’t forget to order Bonèt before you leave!

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History, Wine and Natural Treasures

The Ancient Borgo of Neive

A beautiful historical borgo perched on the Langhe's hills.

Rare Castle Architecture

Serralunga d'Alba Castle

One of the finest examples of 12th century architecture, the castle dominates the surrounding landscape with its austere and majestic presence.

Go, Go, Go!

Alba's Donkey Palio

An extravagant tradition, the Palio of Alba sees young men race their donkeys to the finish line!

A Smelly Deal

Alba's White Truffle Fair

A yearly event to celebrate Alba's greatest delicacy, the white truffle.

History, Wine and Natural Treasures

The Ancient Borgo of Neive

Among the many splendid and well-preserved medieval borghi in the Langhe region, the borgo of Neive is a particularly remarkable destination. 

The borgo's strategic position between the larger cities of Asti and Alba has contributed to its historical importance across more than two millennia. 

Today the fertile vineyards that border the town and the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding countryside make Neive a must-see locale in the Langhe region.


Neive’s historical roots run very deep; as early as the year 100 B.C., Neive was already the site of an important Roman settlement.

Much of what remains in the borgo’s ancient centre today is of medieval construction, though unfortunately several important relics, including the town’s early 13th century castle, were destroyed during the numerous wars for domination of the town between rival cities Asti and Alba.

Today, the community of Neive continues to thrive in large part because of its important role in the Langhe region’s significant wine tradition. 

The borgo is located at the heart of a territory that produces some of Italy’s best wines, including Barbaresco, Barbera d’Alba, Moscato d’Asti and Dolcetto d’Alba.


The town itself is also the seat of several of the region’s most famous wine producers. 

Visitors to the town looking to sample the best of the area have no shortage of options from which to choose, and the town’s culinary offerings, too, will not disappoint!


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Rare Castle Architecture

Serralunga d'Alba Castle

Situated high on the hills of Serralunga, the Castle of Serralunga d’Alba is considered by many one of the best-preserved examples of fourteenth-century castle architecture in Piemonte. 

Dominating the characteristic village and its famous Barolo vineyards in one of the region’s most intriguing districts, the Castle is an indelible symbol of the surrounding landscape.



In the 12th century, a tower used to overlook and defend the village of Serralunga. 

There is also evidence of a fortified estate and a rural settlement from the start of the 13th century, which, in times to come, became an important centre of production under the rule of the Falletti family. In 1349, Pietro Falletti received the quota of the Serralunga estate, which belonged to the Marquis of Saluzzo, as a recompense for his military accomplishments. 


The Marquis started rebuilding the Castle, and Serralunga was thus added to the vast landownership controlled the five Falletti brothers at the turn of the 14th century.

The architectural structure of the castle is unique to Italy. 

It is, in fact, a French Donjon, a heavily fortified central keep of a castle, also called dungeon. The building, which was erected between 1340 and 1357, had the function of controlling the local production activities, more than playing an actual military role. Even the structure of the Castle itself, sky-reaching and tense, seems to underline the distinction and the prosperity of the Falletti family in the 14th century.

From the mid-14th century and on, the Castle of Serralunga d’Alba served both as residence for the Falletti family and as their private power hub.

The castle consisted of several blocks, one of which was the Palacium; the compact and elongated main building composed of ample overlapping halls, each 80 square metres, a round tower on the north-west side and a suspended turret on the opposite side, manifesting somewhat of an innovation in 14th century castle architecture, and a chapel with a barrel vault and frescoes dating back to the mid-15th century.

The Salone dei Valvassori (Hall of the Vavasours) is the Castle’s great hall, defined by its beautiful coffered ceilings and adorned with antique frescoes from the votive chapel; frescoes from the mid-15th century depicting the martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, flanked by the figure of Saint Francis of Assisi on the back wall, and overlooked by the symbol of Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God.


A tip: if you’re in the village of Serralunga, another not-to-miss spot is the local church, dedicated to Saint Sebastian and built between 1886 and 1888.

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Go, Go, Go!

Alba's Donkey Palio

In Italy, palio festivals are races run by animals, most commonly by horses or donkeys. Each animal represents one of several neighbourhoods in a town that compete against one another for local pride in this annual celebration.

The term palio refers to the decorative drape or flag that the winning neighbourhood receives to commemorate the race.

 Many palio festivals have medieval roots – including the Palio di Ferrara, which has been run since 1259, and the world-famous Palio di Siena, which has its origins in the 14th century and today is still run twice every summer. Traditionally, they organized to celebrate military victories or important events, and today they continue as a unique form of local entertainment.


In the small northwestern city of Alba in Italy’s Piedmont region, the annual palio degli asini, or donkey palio, is run every year during the city’s International White Truffle Festival, held each fall between October and November.

The palio has been run annually with nine donkeys for more than 50 years, though officially it commemorates an event that occurred in the distant year of 1275. During this period, Alba was often at war with the nearby rival city of Asti. Following a victory by Asti over Alba, the town ran a palio with horses around the limits of its city walls. In a sort of mocking retort to their enemies, Alba in turn decided to organize a Palio of its own – this one with donkeys.

Like many palios, Alba’s race is also the occasion of a Medieval festival, making it a light-hearted yet important draw to the area for tourists. Thousands of local residents sport authentic and meticulously prepared costumes and realistically recreate scenes from everyday medieval life. These characters march together in a parade preceding the main event, and prizes are granted for the best depictions. A unique and important tradition in Alba, the palio degli asini is not to be missed!

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A Smelly Deal

Alba's White Truffle Fair

Every fall, those in-the-know head to the town of Alba. Why? Because of the International White Truffle Fair. A wonderful month-long celebration of the cherished local delicacy and prized Italian commodity ‘tartufo bianco’, the festival includes a great variety of edible and cultural events.

These aromatic, knobby-shaped members of the mushroom family have been prized for their aphrodisiac and medicinal qualities. They are also a culinary delicacy, best consumed raw, and are notoriously expensive. 

Truffles grow slowly and at about a foot underground, meaning that they must be hunted out by pigs or dogs; pigs are historically great at discovering truffles, but also have a tendency to eat them!

During fair weekends, Alba’s streets are lined with market stalls brimming with all kinds of local produce, not to mention the truffle market itself, in the central Palatartufo pavilion (aptly named, as its translation would be ‘the pala-truffle’!). 

Here you are confronted by local vendors, selling everything from truffle cheese to oil and butter, to whole white truffles of all sizes. The large space is also home to the stands of the AlbaQualità food and wine exhibition where you can find wines from the Langhe and Roero, local artisanal confectionary, cheese, egg pasta, cured meats and all other food products that have brought the area international fame.


Aside from all the delicious locally produced foods on offer, there is also a wide range of events, including the renowned donkey palio. 

After more than 80 international truffle fairs, the donkey race has become an eagerly awaited opportunity for rivalry between Alba’s districts. In the 13th century, Asti conquered Alba, burning its vineyards and then holding its famous horse race there. The donkey race thus began as a bit of a practical joke, however it is still a serious business. 

The big race is preceded by medieval re-enactments, with thousands of characters – noblewomen, knights, peasants – parading through the streets to the sounds of trumpets and drums, before chaos descends as the donkeys stubbornly refuse to run, bite their riders and usually have to be dragged across the finish line!

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8,000 Years in the Making

Subterranean Alba

8,000 Years in the Making

Subterranean Alba

Originally a historical and archaeological collection, the Eusebio Museum of Alba has many treasures to discover… including a subterranean Roman city! Founded in 1897 by Federico Eusebio, a Professor of Latin Literature at University of Genoa, it contains objects that were discovered from excavations of the last thirty years and therefore hosts a pre-historical museum of the city’s Roman origins.

The prehistoric town, partly visible thanks to a ‘subterranean Alba’ tour, was a fundamental area of Neolithic North Italy. The town was known to the Romans as Alba Pompeia and, during the Middle Ages, it became a Free Municipality.


The museum is divided into three sections: anthropological, archaeological, and natural science.

The anthropological area was created in order to preserve the archaeological objects from the excavations in the territory. There is an extensive human collection including the remains of prehistoric inhabitants of the Alba area, as well as a number of remains from other locations. There are also 59 tombs dating back to the Roman Age from Acqui Terme, 126 entombments from the Middle Age discovered from the San Domenico Church restorations, 141 tombs from Ticineto Alessandrino, and 88 from Pollenzo. 

These anthropological findings are open to the public on certain dates that are chosen by the Environment and Cultural Association.


The archaeological area is divided in two areas: pre-historical times and Roman times. 

In the prehistorical area you can view objects that date back to the Neolithic Age like utensils, arms, and ornamental objects. The section also has a reconstructed Neolithic shed. Instead, the variety of objects that are contained in the Roman area allow the visitor to imagine day to day life of the Alba Pompeia habitants. The architecture of their houses, how the dead were mourned, and all the unique and curious objects that people owned in this period, are all exposed in vast rooms.

The natural science area of the museum has geological, paleontological, zoological, and botanical sections. The palaeontology area narrates the formation and evolution of the Alba area in geological eras, conserving minerals from the Cuneo Mountains. The zoological area offers a grand expansion of the local vertebrates while invertebrates are limited to certain orders. The botanical area offers a view of the local flora with an ample documentation and over 11,000 samples.

The most exciting part of the museum – and definitely a not-to-miss activity – is the opportunity to visit Alba underground and see Roman Alba Pompeia with a professional archaeologist. 

The medieval city expanded over the roman one and in the last 2,000 years what has remained is conserved underneath. 

The itineraries of Alba underground are 32 and therefore each tour is composed of three of these, so consult the ambientecultura.it website for more details. Each tour will end with Treasures of Tanaro where fossils from Mastodon of Verduno and the Alba Whale (both millions of years old) can be seen. 


Tours must be booked in advance so be sure do to so before your arrival in Alba.

The Federico Eusebio Museum is located in Alba’s centre near the Maddalena Church and inside its courtyard, in Via Vittorio Emanuele II 19. For opening times and tickets, please visit the museum’s official website.

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A Partisan Heart

Beppe Fenoglio

A Partisan Heart

Beppe Fenoglio

Italian writer and former partisan Beppe Fenoglio, published just three works before his untimely death from cancer at the age of 41, though posthumously many more were widely released.

Born in 1922 in the small Northern city of Alba, Fenoglio drew inspiration for much of what he composed from his personal experience fighting fascism in the Italian resistance movement from 1943 to 1945; indeed, his works render the experience of those dramatic and formidable years like no other 20th-century Italian fiction of its kind. 

Readers of Fenoglio’s works are also immersed in his descriptions of the picturesque Langhe region, where he was born and lived much of his life.


Visitors to the region who wish to learn more about Fenoglio, his works and his brief life may visit the Beppe Fenoglio Centre for research on literature, history, art and culture in his hometown of Alba. 

The centre is housed in Fenoglio’s former home, where he lived with various members of his family from 1928 through 1959. Within the centre, the Casa Fenoglio or “Fenoglio Home” features both permanent and temporary exhibitions designed to guide visitors through important elements of the Fenoglio family’s life, educate people about the rich and diverse offerings of the Langhe region, and commemorate the life and works of this great Italian author.


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The Mecca of Wine

Barolo Castle and Wine Museum

The Mecca of Wine

Barolo Castle and Wine Museum

Home to the beautiful Barolo Castle, the plateau territory surrounded by hills was given its current name – Barolo – around 1600. 

Berengario I allowed for the castle’s nucleus to be built out of necessity to defend the area from continuous raids, but in later years the castle was passed on between aristocratic families, of which the most well known are the Fallettis. 

Although the area went through years of hardship in which young people escaped to the cities and rural life was left behind, during the 70s this trend reversed, and the Langhe became one of the most rich and vibrant vineyard areas of the world.


The Barolo Castle is a dominant guardian of the famous homonymous wine area. Today, the castle houses the Barolo Regional Wine Cellar, which represents eleven wine municipalities of the Barolo – Langhe area. It conserves the history and secrets of the making of this world-renowned wine, which can thank its early success of the last century to Juliette Colbert, the last of the Falletti aristocrats.

It was Julienne who sent 320 cartloads of wine to King Charles Albert and his court: since then, Barolo wine has become famous throughout the years.


Barolo Castle is also home to WIMU, the local wine museum. This innovative exhibition expects the visitor to play an active role in the production and traditions of wine culture. 

On the wine tour, experience light, darkness and various colours while walking from the top floor to the third floor, until reaching the heart of the castle’s cellar, where Barolo wine was born.


The journey begins with the help of nature in winemaking and then proceeds to wine in history, art and cuisine, all within the castle’s walls. Finish off the tour with a perfect wine tasting in the castle’s cellar.

For details on opening times and tickets, please visit the museum’s official website.

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Better Than a Postcard

The Parish Church of Diano d'Alba

Better Than a Postcard

The Parish Church of Diano d'Alba

Standing on a hill overlooking the entire region of Langhe, the Baroque church of San Giovanni Battista was built in 1763 on the ruins of a pre-existing castle,destroyed by Duke Amedeo di Savoia in the 17th century, in what today is the small town of Diano d’Alba. 

The bell tower was built a few years earlier, in 1734, by the same architect, Carlo Francesco Rangone.

Diano d’Alba itself sits atop a 500 metre-high hill (bric in local dialect) and owes its name to the woods that once covered the area: Diana is, in fact, the Roman goddess of hunting. 

The town is also known for its wine production, which includes a local red named after it, that is a notable Dolcetto characterised by a brilliant ruby-red colour.


Diano’s church is a beautiful example of Piedmontese Baroque, influenced by the works of famous architect Juvarra.

 The façade is simple though elegant while the interior, with a single nave, is marvellously decorated with golden friezes and capitals. The church also boasts remarkable works of art; besides important paintings by Torino artist Rodolfo Morgari you will find eight famous paintings wellworth seeing: the Holy Shroud by Antonio Tempesta, donated by the Savoy family, the Baptism of Jesus by Claudio Francesco Beaumont and six paintings by Giovanni Claret.

However, what attracts most people to this imposing building is not its history or the richness of its art treasures, but the possibility to admire the magnificent, 360-degree view from the top of the hill.


With a mild climb up to the square and gardens above the church, the most amazing views are within easy reach. Marvel at the Moscato and Barbaresco hills to the east; over the Barolo hills, the town of Alba and the whole stretch of the Tanaro valley to the west. And all this with an imposing view of the Italian Alps in the background.

Wait for a sunny day and make sure you visit this beautiful church and the surrounding area. Or visit at nightfall, when colours are poignant and poetic. A real postcard must!

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A Cathedral and Two Saints

San Lorenzo Cathedral

A beautiful red-bricked cathedral in Alba's central square.

New York's Ancestor

Alba's Towers

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Town With a View

La Morra

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A Recovered Jewel

San Domenico Church

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A Cathedral and Two Saints

San Lorenzo Cathedral

An imposing red brick Gothic building with a 13th century bell tower, the cathedral of San Lorenzo was built on the ruins of an early Christian basilica,which in turn stood on the ruins of a Roman site – today the centre of Alba. 

Commissioned in 1486 by Bishop Andrea Novelli and finished in 1516, the new building was damaged during an earthquake in 1626 and restructured in 1652 under Bishop Paolo Brizio. Further renovations were carried out in the 19th century and, more recently, between 2007 and 2009, during which interesting remains from the Roman period were uncovered.

The cathedral’s façade has a central rose window and statues depicting Saint Lawrence (San Lorenzo) and the symbols of the four Evangelists, all made by sculptor Luigi Cocchio in 1878.

The interior has a central nave and two aisles with three chapels on each side. The first chapel on the right is that of the Holy Cross and boasts a notable marble altar by architect Arborio Mella, whereas the first chapel on the left is the baptistery chapel, designed by famous architect Ugo Della Piana in 1991. It contains the beautiful “Baptism of Jesus” by 18th century Piedmontese painter Claudio Francesco Beaumont. In the other chapels you can find works by Paolo Operti, Agostino Cottolengo, Cesare Rossi, Luigi Hartman and Francesco Antonio Cuniberti.

The church is well known for its remarkable wood-carved choir, built in 1512 by Bernardo Fossati.

The finely carved decorations of its 35 stalls illustrate cups filled with fruit, landscapes, musical instruments and other religious and decorative subjects. The church organ was built by Fratelli Lingiardi in 1876. The monumental ark, by Milanese sculptor Antonio Carloni (1515–1525), is dedicated to Saint Theobald, the cobbler who became the co-patron of the cathedral, and houses relics of the patron saints of Alba.

Remains from the Late-Roman and Medieval periods are on view in the archaeological section of the Diocesan Museum, in the cathedral basement (Museo della Cattedrale).

For the cathedral’s and the museum’s opening times we advise you to visit their official site.

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New York's Ancestor

Alba's Towers

One of the most distinguishing features of the small town of Alba is its impressively turreted skyline. 


Between the end of the 12th and the first half of the 13th century, Alba enjoyed a period of great prosperity, expressed in the construction of many fortified buildings within the town. In those days, Alba probably looked like a miniature New York, with a number of small-scale skyscrapers forming its staggering skyline.

Towers were a clear mark of prestige and wealth; the higher the tower, the richer and more powerful the family that owned it! 

For this reason, Alba was nicknamed the ‘town of a hundred towers’, despite the fact that only a few of these great towers have survived. There are now just four towers which retain their original height, and these are all concentrated in the historic centre, around the Piazza del Duomo. 

Although only a few survive, the red-brick towers still give Alba its distinctive appearance, and it would be hard to imagine the Langhe’s chief town without them.

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Town With a View

La Morra

Just 30 miles southeast of Turin, the miniscule town of La Morra – with a current population of under 3,000 people – was founded in the 12th century. 


Today, La Morra is renowned primarily for the Nebbiolo grape crops that grow in the territory surrounding the town, from which the prestigious Piedmont Barolo wine is produced. 

The Nebbiolo grape, too, has ancient roots in La Morra; indeed, the first historical records of the “Nebiolium” in the town can be traced to the year 1402.

Although a very small town, La Morra’s Barolo wine production nonetheless attracts a significant number of tourists, who come to the area to sample “the wine of kings, the king of wines” and explore the excellent local food scene, as well as enjoy the area’s stunning natural beauty.


From its position on one of the highest hills in the area, La Morra offers a sweeping view of the surrounding valley, which – though perhaps lesser known – rivals the stunning vistas so popular with tourists in Tuscany. 


A tip: to best experience the belvedere (panoramic viewpoint), head to Piazza Castello and soak it all in.


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A Recovered Jewel

San Domenico Church

The ancient church of San Domenico (Saint Dominic) is one of the most significant spots in the city of Alba and stands in the heart of the historical centre, not far from the Cathedral. 

It was built during the end of the 13th century alongside the Dominican convent: this is documented by a deed dated 22nd November 1292 mentioning the availability of a sum of money donated by a wealthy citizen of Alba for the setting up of the church.


One of the few examples of early Gothic architecture in Piedmont, the church boasts an elegant, majestic façade with semi-pointed arches, distinguished by four robust buttresses which rise up to the roof corresponding to the four rows of columns inside. 

The building’s interior has a basilical structure with a 51-meters-long nave and two aisles. 

La Pietà, a set of marble sculptures by Leonardo Bistolfi (1915) can be found in the left-hand aisle along with a crucifix attributed to Edoardo Rubino (1871-1954), while several paintings by Italian artists can be seen on the rear walls and in the chapels.


Over the centuries, there have been major changes to the structure of the church. 

During the Baroque Period the building of the side chapels destroyed the precious 16th century frescos that decorated the walls: fragments of these 16th century works can be seen at the Palazzo del Comune. However, the most serious degradation suffered by the church occurred when religious orders were suppressed under Napoleon and the building was used by French troops as stables.


Important restorations took place in 1926 and again in the 1970s thanks to the help of the Famija Albeisa, an association founded in 1955 to preserve the town, its culture and its monuments.


Today, the church hosts art exhibits, cultural events, concerts and, sometimes, religious functions. In fact, contrary to what is commonly believed, the church is not deconsecrated and it belongs to the Cathedral of Alba, although currently managed by the Famija Albeisa.

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Wine History

Historic Wine Cellars in Langhe

Wine History

Historic Wine Cellars in Langhe

The Langhe region in Italy’s northwest corner has a rich and well-established tradition of wine production; indeed, some of the country’s best and most renowned wines – including the Dolcetto d’Alba, Barbaresco and Barbera d’Alba, to name just a few – are made in this expanse of countryside near the cities of Cuneo and Asti. 

As in much of the country, the history of this production can be traced back many centuries, though the numerous and stringent regulations that govern how much of Langhe wine is made are largely 20th century creations.

Throughout the region, many winemaking families carry on a tradition began by their ancestors centuries ago

One such example of this living connection with the Langhe’s past is the Cantina del Glicine, located just outside of the charming medieval borgo of Neive. 

While this family-run operation only began distributing wine commercially in the year 1980, it has been active on the same property since the year 1604.

The Cantina del Glicine’s wine cellars are buried 8 metres under the tuff soil that is characteristic of the Langhe region. Even in the absence of modern temperature control technologies, the cellar’s design provides the ideal conditions in which to age the wine.

The quality of the Cantina del Glicine’s product has been proven repeatedly, as the family’s wine is continually listed among the best of the region.


Another – much larger – regional producer, the Fontanafredda estate, stands as an important testament to Northwestern Italy’s history as the former heart of the Savoy dynasty. Established in the year 1858 in Serralunga d’Alba, the property was part of Victor Emanuel II's, King of Sardinia, private estate. The king promptly gave the estate to a love interest, Rosa Vercellana, whom he dubbed the Countess of Mirafiori and Fontanafredda. 


Twenty years later, in 1878, the king and Rosa’s son began making wine on the estate, and the tradition has continued unabated through the decades. 

Today, the estate boasts more than 100 acres of vineyards and has a yearly production of more than 500,000 bottles.

The Cantina del Glicine and Fontanafredda represent merely two examples in an area that is ripe with history and quality wine, with Gaja and Ceretto being other two top-notch producers. Visitors will find no shortage of historic sites to discover and excellent wine to sample, all with the backdrop of the Langhe’s stunning natural beauty.

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A Great Statesman's Home

Grinzane Cavour Castle

A Great Statesman's Home

Grinzane Cavour Castle

The Castle of Grinzane Cavour stands high on a hilltop in one of the most striking landscapes in the Langhe, 5 kilometres from Alba. 

It is one of the oldest and most significant castles in the district, surrounded by panoramic vineyards and greenery, and it has rightly been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The name of the small fortification pays homage to statesman Camillo Benso di Cavour, who served as Mayor of Grinzane for 17 years, from 1832 to 1849. 

In this period, the statesman did a lot of good for the town and the wine production in the area. Upon his death, the castle passed to his niece, Giuseppina, who married Count Carlo Alfieri di Sostegno. The last descendent of the house, the marquise Adele Alfieri, left the castle to the municipality of Alba, to which Grinzane belonged.


Built in the first half of the 13th century, the castle has undergone several architectural alterations. 

What we see before us today is the result of the 1961 renovations, which were carried out on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy. 

The impressive brick building has a trapezoidal plan with four structures collocated unevenly around the small main courtyard. The two picturesque cylinder-shaped turrets were added in the 16th century, and from the same period are the coffered ceilings in the Sala delle maschere (the Hall of Masques) with 157 painted panels depicting coats of arms, animals, allegories and portraits.


The castle currently houses the Enoteca Regionale Piemontese Cavour, where local DOC and DOCG wines can be bought or tasted, a renowned gourmet restaurant, and a permanent museum - which contains exhibitions on truffles -, rare articles on local food and wine traditions, kitchen settings from the 17th and 19th century, and a 17th century distillery. 

Moreover, the display offers several relics and keepsakes from the time Cavour inhabited the castle.

An interesting fact: the White Truffle of Alba World Auction is held here every year on the second Sunday of November, where truffles can be purchased for incredible amounts of money (then given to charity).


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Michele and the Chocolate Factory

Michele Ferrero

Michele and the Chocolate Factory

Michele Ferrero

Mastermind behind some of the most beloved chocolate treats in the world, Michele Ferrero was an entrepreneur who is said to have defined the Italian confectionary landscape. Perhaps best known for Nutella spread, Michele’s empire also included products such as Ferrero Rocher, Tic Tacs and Kinder.

The roots of this success date back to the 40s, when post-war Italy was characterised by strict rationing and chocolate was considered a precious commodity. 


At this time, Michele’s parents owned a small pastry shop in Alba. It was here that his father, Pietro, had the idea of adding hazelnuts to a pinch of cocoa to create a creamy paste called ‘Pasta Giuanduja’. 

Interestingly, this original mix was not actually spreadable – it was sold in a loaf, designed to be sliced and eaten with bread.

It was Michele Ferrero who added vegetable oil to his father’s recipe, making the hazelnut chocolate paste spreadable

The product was called 'Supercrema' and was put into the glass jars which are now iconic of Nutella. It was thanks to Michele and his partnership with his wife, Maria Franca, that Ferrero became the first Italian manufacturer to open confectionary production sites and offices abroad after the Second World War. Michele pioneered an ambitious international agenda in the face of demoralizing odds and, in doing so, made one of the most successful and cherished food brands in Italy and the world.


Michele and his company are still considered as an object of utmost pride and affection in Italy.

This was demonstrated significantly upon Michele’s recent death, on Valentine’s Day 2015, when Italians were left grieving for a man who had created the chocolate creations they grew up with.

On the official Ferrero website, it says: "behind the trademark, turnover and expansion of a multinational company, there is the story of a brilliant and strong-willed Piedmontese family, that gathers its extraordinary strength for growth from the Ferrero Foundation’s motto: 'Work, Create, Give'."

Now the Ferrero story has reached its third generation, with Michele’s son, Giovanni, in charge. He continues to strive for ambitious goals while ensuring that the company remains based firmly on these strong family values.

Interesting fact: In 2014, Italy released 2.7 million stamps featuring a picture of Nutella to celebrate its 50th anniversary. These were published as part of a series celebrating the country’s economic and productive system.



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A Taste of the Woods

Trilobata Hazelnut

A Taste of the Woods

Trilobata Hazelnut

Italy is one of the world’s largest producers of hazelnuts, rivalled only by Turkey. The Piedmontese hazelnut, however, is recognised as a special variety thanks to its distinctive flavour. 

The Tonda Gentile Trilobata, so called because of its perfectly round shape, is amongst the world’s best hazelnuts not only because of its delicious taste but also because it is easy to peel and can be stored for long periods without losing its characteristics.


It grows in the hilly areas of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato and is a protected I.G.P. (protected designation of origin) product, which means that the quality and the authenticity of the product are guaranteed.

Its popularity comes from the famous Gianduiotto, a chocolate and hazelnut praline invented in 1806 when cocoa had become very expensive due to import limitations imposed by Napoleon. 


To reduce the amount of cocoa, chocolate makers tried to add ground hazelnut and the result was an amazing success.

Italian chocolate-maker Ferrero conquered Italy, and eventually the world, with its Nutella, an industrial version of Gianduia cream (a cocoa and hazelnut cream). Now a giant company, Ferrero doesn’t exclusively use the local crop anymore, as production is not high enough: they use about a quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply — more than 100,000 tons every year!


Today the “tonda gentile” is used for a series of high quality preparations including the aforementioned Gianduiotto pralines, Gianduia spread, Torrone, hazelnut cake and brut e bon biscuits, all delicious and very popular. 

When toasted correctly, it tastes spectacular – if you get the chance, exalt its aromatic savour with a glass of rich, red wine or try to dip it in honey.

Last but not least, recent studies seem to demonstrate that, if eaten regularly, hazelnuts have a positive effect on human health. They can help maintain low “bad cholesterol” levels in the blood, and thanks to their high vitamin E content, they supply a significant quantity of antioxidant agents. 


So, whether you enjoy it alone or in one of the various mouth-watering preparations make sure you try this gentle and healthy delicacy!

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The King of Wines and its Court of Nobles

Langhe Wines

The King of Wines and its Court of Nobles

Langhe Wines

The hilly region of Langhe is known as the vineyard of Italy and produces some of the finest wines in Italy. 

Wine has been made here since Roman times and there are hundreds of cellars spread all over the territory, from internationally known names with historic reserves to small producers that are familiar only to connoisseurs. They all work with the same passion and pride, striving to obtain the best from their own grapes.

The super star wines from the region are the DOCG Barolo and Barbaresco, both tremendously rich red wines made with the native Nebbiolo grape.

 “Nebbia” means fog in Italian, and the gentle hills of Langhe are often shrouded in mist. The Nebbiolo grape has a thick skin that allows it to ripen for longer on the vines in the colder hills; this and the high concentration of limestone in the soil create an overall unique environment for producing these regal wines.


Known as “the king of wines, the wine of kings”, Barolo is produced from 100-percent Nebbiolo grapes grown on the hills surrounding the town of Barolo. 


Many think Barolo to be Italy’s greatest red wine. Even members of the royal house of Savoy, living in spectacular palaces in and around Turin, were fond of this long-established wine, as was the court of Louis XIV. 

For info: Barolo must have a minimum of 12.5-percent alcohol and be aged at least three years, with two of those years in either oak or chestnut casks; Barolo that has been aged five years may be labelled “riserva”.

Barbaresco, also produced from 100% Nebbiolo grape, is a wine of completely different character from Barolo. 


The Barbaresco area has a warmer, drier and milder climate than its neighbour. This means its grapes tend to ripen earlier than those in Barolo and the wines are less tannic and more approachable at an earlier age. It only needs two years of ageing, one of which in wooden barrels. For the added designation of “riserva”, the ageing increases to four years, with one year at least in wood. Barbaresco is characterized by its rich, spicy flavour and perfumed sweetness and is considered more elegant and refined than its counterpart, which is a more robust and longer-lived red.

Dolcetto is a simple but delicious wine. 

Historically, it was used for bartering with the peoples of the Ligurian coast, in exchange for olive oil, salt and anchovies and also taken to the plains of Cuneo and bartered for veal calves. The vine’s name derives from the exceptional sweetness of the grape but is misleading as far as the wine is concerned, as this is definitely dry, moderately acidic and possesses a pleasant bitterish aftertaste. The vine can give rise to fresh, light wines capable of adaptation to any meal, or fuller bodied and well-structured ones that tolerate up to seven years of ageing. Some of the smoothest, roundest, highest quality Dolcetto in Piedmont is produced in the Diano d’Alba area but the Dolcetto di Dogliani is also very good.

Langhe is home to many other famous wines such as Barbera d’Alba, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Verduno Pelaverga and the less known Nascetta di Novello, a premier Piedmontese grape grown entirely within the borders of the Langhe Hills and the only white vine native to Langhe.

Among the producers, Angelo Gaja is without a doubt the most famous for both Barbaresco and Barolo wines. Elio Altare, Gigi Rosso and Giacomo Conterno are equally renowned producers. Other famous names are Fontanafredda, Albino Rocca, Fratelli Barale and Poderi Einaudi while the consortiums in every village offer good quality wines at reasonable prices.

Most wineries can be visited and have shops where you can taste and buy their products. Check their websites for opening hours and keep in mind that you might need to make an appointment before you visit.

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Surrounded in Mystery

La Volta Castle

Surrounded in Mystery

La Volta Castle

With its abandoned and ancient aspect, it’s no wonder that the Castle of Volta in Castiglione Falletto - near the popular Barolo - has a number of mysterious and legendary myths connected to its long history.

Located near the Barolo Castle, a few kilometres on the hill in front of the famous counterpart, it can be accessed by taking the road from Barolo that heads towards La Morra.

Built in the XII century by Manfredo of Saluzzo, the building subsequently fell into various ownerships. 

Its name, “la volta” (the roof), comes from a famous story in which the central room’s roof collapsed around XIV – hence began the strange myths that, still today, surround the castle.


The legend of the roof collapsing has origins in the local religious imagination of the 1300s. Men and women from the castle’s court reunited in festivity and decided to partake in a collective orgy. For this wicked act, God made the roof collapse, burying all the participants. When the ruins were removed, none of the bodies were recovered. Another version of this legend says that Satan wanted to possess the souls of these people, making the roof collapse and lifting a tall wall that no one could cross over.

A second legend originates from the castle’s tower. 

The structure seems to be completely enclosed; nobody has been able to find the entrance to access it, even though there are physical signs that below the entrance someone tried to breach the wall to access the tower. People affirm to hear voices in search of light, of ghosts and souls in pain. 

During rainstorms, some affirm that when lighting strikes the darkness, screams can be heard and strange lights scamper across the rooms.

Nonetheless, the castle was a favourite of the last noble Giulia Colbert Falletti, who enjoyed taking walks and resting surrounded by the gorgeous nature. 


Since the castle was last property of the Falletti until 1864, it continued to move into a declining state and also experienced physical damage during World War II. It is now property of the Abbona heirs who own the Barolo Wine Cellars and is in reconstruction phase. Its current decadent but fascinating and unique aspect might be short-lived, so if the castle’s legendary stories do not scare you away, heading out for a visit is worth the curiosity.

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Slow and Steady Does It

The Cherasco Snail Production

Slow and Steady Does It

The Cherasco Snail Production

The small town of Cherasco represents another gem of the stunning Langhe region. Like many towns in the area, Cherasco has medieval roots, though it stands out for several elegant and well-preserved architectural highlights that are testaments to different periods in its long history. 

These include the town castle, constructed in 1348 by the then ruling Lord Luchino Visconti, and the Belvedere Arch, built in 1647 to commemorate the passing of the black death that had plagued the Piedmont region since the year 1630.


In addition to enjoying a passeggiata through Cherasco’s charming historical centre, visitors to the area cannot miss the local culinary heritage. 

In particular, the town is recognized as the Italian capital of snail farming and for 30 years has been home to the International Institute of Heliculture, which regulates the extensive area production of snails.


Cherasco’s snails are raised in local, open-air organic farms and fed a fresh vegetable-based diet; indeed, the quality of the food the snails consume comes through in the outstanding flavour and quality of their meat. 

The snail is an incredibly versatile food and lends itself well to a variety of flavours and dishes served in local restaurants. It is often served as the main ingredient of various pasta, risotto and frittata dishes, as well as on its own in rich wine and herb based sauce, aptly named alla Cheraschese.


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