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From the elegant boulevards and baroque architecture of Turin, to the majestic countryside crowned with castles, walled villages and rustic farmhouses, this northern Italian region “at the foot of the mountains,” (as Piedmont literally translates), captivates. Walks average 3-6 miles per day, with shorter and longer options available. There are daily ascents and descents with a typical elevation gain or loss of around 500 feet. The terrain varies widely, from paved roads and cobblestone streets to uneven trails and dirt roads. The pace is leisurely with stops en route to explore villages, and cultural and historical sites.
Your route follows ancient trails through nature parks with snowcapped peaks as a backdrop; between hilltop wine towns; and along the medieval “Salt Route” connecting Italy and France. Pass hillsides alive with 43 varieties of orchids on your way to the 12th-century chapel of Santo Stefano. Enjoy sweeping views of the Barbaresco region as you make your way through pear, peach and apple orchards. Enjoy the unique vegetation along the trails in the Natural Park of the Rocche, home to more than 950 plant species. On some days you'll arrive on foot at historic accommodations – from a carefully restored farmhouse and villa to a neo-Gothic style castle. Well-appointed guest rooms and amenities are paired with fine restaurants and stunning locations for an unforgettable cultural immersion.
You'll also get to experience the best of Italian cuisine. In Piedmont culinary traditions have evolved to match the beauty of the setting. In fact, the Worldwide Slow Food Movement was born in the Piedmontese town of Bra and you'll get a chance to explore the University of Gastronomic Sciences, the Wine Bank and Ristorante Guido, all of which have been conceived and developed by the Slow Food organization. A tour of the Marchesi di Barolo estate culminates in a tasting of world-renowned vintages while a hands-on cooking class at a traditional farmhouse in Roero reveals some of the secrets of Piedmontese cuisine. Visit the home of a beekeeper in Rocche who shows you his array of pure honeys. From a truffle hunt on the outskirts of Alba to a cheese-making demonstration in Borgomale, it’s all part of life in this less-traveled part of bella Italia!
• 6 nights accommodations: 2 nights each in Pollenzo, Canale and Monforte d’Alba
• All meals except for 1 dinner; local wine included with dinners
• All on-tour transportation
• Assistance of 2 expert, local guides throughout (for groups of 8 or more)
• Guided walks in Turin, Pollenzo, Montemarino region, Barbaresco region, the Natural Park of the Rocche, Langhe region and Barolo region
• Mobile phone rental - includes free phone rental, preferred calling rates and complimentary shipping
• All entrance fees and special events as per itinerary
Note: Please bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, inclement weather or transportation schedules. Therefore unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise but any itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and our guests’ experience.
Day 1 - Arrive in Turin / Walking Tour of Turin (3 to 3.5 hours, Easy) / Transfer to Pollenzo
After a brief welcome meeting in Turin at a centrally located historic hotel, set off on a walking tour of the city known as the “Capital of the Alps.” Departing the hotel on foot, walk east towards the city’s largest park, the Parco del Valentino located on the Po River, where riverside trails lead to the Ponte Umberto, a bridge across the Po near the base of the Monte dei Cappuccini, a small “mountain” in the city. An approximate 500-foot ascent winds to the summit crowned with a lovely cathedral and panoramic views of the city and the majestic Alps in the distance. Descending back to the riverside, you continue walking north to the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele; crossing this bridge you soon arrive at the grand Piazza Vittorio Veneto, one of Turin’s largest piazzas. From the square you follow the Via Po to the Piazza Castello, with the cathedral, the Palazzo Madama (where ancient Roman ruins can be viewed under glass floors), several museums, and many shops and restaurants. You stop for lunch at one of Turin’s classic old-world style restaurants.
A mid-afternoon transfer brings you to the town of Pollenzo not far from the town of Bra, the Italian base of the international Slow Food Movement. The neo-Gothic country estate of King Carlo Alberto of Savoy has been restored into a sprawling four-star hotel with extensive grounds, outdoor swimming pool and indoor spa. The complex also includes the University of Gastronomic Sciences, the Wine Bank and Ristorante Guido, all of which have been conceived and developed by the Slow Food organization. With a mission that is in contrast to “fast food,” the Slow Food Movement is dedicated to preserving and promoting agricultural and culinary traditions particular to a region. Initiated in Italy with its centuries-old practices, the movement has spread throughout Europe and North America. The University at Pollenzo is an international training and data center for preserving and disseminating the organic agricultural practices encouraged by the Slow Food Movement. The Wine Bank is a depository of all Italian wines housed in the historic 19th-century cellars of the royal estate. It was conceived as an archive of the wines of all regions to create “historical memory” of Italy’s finest wines.
Following a welcome aperitivo, a short drive to the nearby town of Bra brings you to a charming restaurant that was the first on the Slow Food Movement’s list in Italy, Osteria Del Boccondivino, roughly translated as “divine mouthful”! (If this restaurant isn’t available, a comparable Slow Food restaurant may be used.) A warm dining room welcomes you with the best local ingredients in classic dishes: an appetizer of tortino di verdure, or vegetable tart, followed by homemade pasta and sage, veal braised in Barolo wine, and melt-in-your-mouth panna cotta are just a few examples to be paired with the perfect wines from an extensive wine list.
Accommodation: Albergo dell’Agenzia - 2 nights
Day 2 - Montemarino to Borgomale (4 miles, Easy to Moderate) / Roddi to Pollenzo (3 miles, Easy)
After a copious buffet breakfast complete with organic juices, you embark upon a 45-minute minibus transfer to the trailhead just outside the small hamlet of Montemarino. Montemarino is one of the 21 villages that make up the Alta Langa (Upper Langhe), an area of high, rugged hills where the vineyards – mainly planted with Dolcetto grapes – alternate with pastureland, and chestnut and hazelnut groves. You are joined by an expert local truffle hunter who shares his secrets of hunting for the delectable mushroom, looking for clues such as certain types of trees, leaf litter, and amounts of sunlight and moisture. Follow a quiet dirt road used by farmers to reach their hillside vineyards and plots. The trail gradually climbs through a forest of oak, chestnuts and the pino silvestre, the Langhe’s only native pine, soon reaching open meadows with sweeping views. Threading along a ridge top trail you may spot wildflowers native to this area, including a variety of orchids, as well as fragrant thyme and rosemary. Reaching a high meadow with views of Borgomale, and the privately owned Borgomale Castle, on one side, and the Belbo valley on the other, you begin your descent to the Cascina Pistone just below the ridge.
Arrive on foot at a renovated farmhouse above the village of Borgomale, where a boundless panorama provides inspiration to a celebrated local cheese maker. He gives a demonstration, explanation and a tasting of some of the savory cheeses made from the milk of the long-eared Langhe sheep, a breed that is on the verge of extinction. After a light lunch, you are introduced to the Tonda Gentile delle Langhe, considered the best variety of hazelnuts in the world (and the prevalent crop of the Alta Langa) because of their intense aroma and flavor. A woman from the neighboring village of Bosia, who makes delicious tarts and desserts, brings over some of her dolce for a tasting.
A short transfer delivers you to the start of an easy afternoon walk along the banks of the Tanaro River and parallel canals between the towns of Roddi and Pollenzo. The path winds through shady deciduous forest, agricultural fields and large plots of orti, home vegetable gardens. Across the fertile valley, you view the medieval hamlet of Santa Vittoria d’Alba with its towering red castle. In late afternoon, return by bus to your hotel where there is time to relax, swim or indulge in a massage (at your expense). Prior to dinner at your hotel’s restaurant, join your guide for a walking tour of the property and town, including a visit to the church amd fascinating Roman ruins in Pollenzo. The menu features, of course, the region’s wines and the freshest seasonal ingredients.
Day 3 - Treiso: The Rocche dei Sette Fratelli (5-mile loop walk, Easy to Moderate) / Transfer to Canale; optional walk in the grounds of Agriturismo Le Querce (2.5 miles, Easy)
You bid ciao to Pollenzo this morning and set off for a day of fun-filled activities. A short transfer brings you to the hilltop town of Treiso, located in the heart of the Barbaresco wine-making region. From the town’s main piazza and Baroque parish church, set off on a two-hour morning walk winding through pear, peach and apple orchards, as well as vineyards producing the Nebbiolo grapes from which the renowned Barbaresco wine is made. Along the way, you are rewarded with sweeping views of the entire Barbaresco region, including the towns of Neive, Neviglie, Barbaresco, and Alba, with the Tanaro River below. Arrive at the Rocche dei Sette Fratelli, a series of canyons resulting in a huge natural amphitheater, and learn about the local legend of seven blasphemous brothers who, struck by divine fury, fell to their death here.
A short drive delivers you to the Agriturismo Casa Scaparone, located just outside the town of Alba. The rambling stone farmhouse, dating back 500 years, has been lovingly restored by husband-and-wife team Battista and Alessandra Cornaglia. Today, the self-sufficient farm features fruit orchards, vineyards, terraced organic vegetable gardens and a barn full of animals. A light lunch featuring homemade soup and frittatas made from the farm’s fresh vegetables.
Following lunch you transfer to your home for the next two nights, a 17th-century, family-owned farmhouse nestled in cultivated fields and vineyards within the Natural Park of the Rocche. The park comprises a unique ecosystem and microclimate in which, because of its location and elevation, Mediterranean and alpine vegetation grow in proximity to one another. The area is also known for a white salt with pharmaceutical properties called “Sal Canal.” Upon arrival, there may be time for a dip in the outdoor heated swimming pool or an optional walk.
Departing directly from the hilltop agriturismo, a path traverses the inn’s vineyards and overflowing peach, apricot, pear and prune orchards. After a gradual climb you reach the tiny hilltop hamlet of Canale and the Madonna di Loreto Church, opened only once a year at Christmas. From the village, views open up on the forested hillsides and the inn’s vast vineyards. This evening, gather in the hotel’s dining room for an apperativo of local wines and cured ham and cheeses, before sitting down to dinner - perhaps an insalata del roero (walnuts, celery, and goat cheese), followed by homemade lasagna or risotto with porcini mushrooms.
Accommodation: Agriturismo Le Querce del Vareglio - 2 nights
Day 4 - Natural Park of the Rocche: Il Sentiero del Lupo (5.5-mile loop walk, Easy to Moderate) / Il Sentiero del Castagno (3.5 miles, Easy to Moderate)
After breakfast, which includes the inn’s homemade jams from its fruit trees, transfer to the nearby village of Montà to set out on one of several trails that make up the “ecomuseum” of the Cliffs of Roero. A range of hills stretching out along the left bank of the Tanaro River beneath the plateaus of Turin and Fossano, the Roero is a landscape of steep hills and the “Rocche,” a distinctive line of rocks traversing the entire territory, from Pocapaglia to Montà.
The Rocche’s unique ecosystem, comprised of more than 950 plant species, is perfect for beekeeping and results in high-quality honey. The walk this morning departs from the 13th-century town square of Montà, passes by the 17th-century castle and parish church, and continues along the “Wolf's Trail,” bringing you to the home of a local beekeeper. Here you learn about the evolution of beekeeping over the centuries, how bees communicate and dance, and of course sample some honey and honey products. The natural methods used include cold extraction of the honey, which leaves the purest taste, allowing you to distinguish between honey made from chestnuts and honey made from cherry blossoms or other flowers.
Looping back towards Montà, the trail is framed by cherry trees and distant views of the Alps on a clear day. Transferring to the tranquil overlook at Sacro Monte dei Piloni, a picnic lunch of savory and sweet tarts and fresh fruit is unpacked. Afterwards, transfer back down to Montà for a stroll through town and refreshing gelato. You may then choose to return to your hotel by bus to relax or to continue directly from Montà along the “Chestnut Trail,” which leads you to a perfect panoramic viewpoint over the striking Rocche hills. According to local legend, at the bottom of a cliff there was a fountain of youth called “dos” in the local dialect. One of the most noticeable natural features along the trail (and from which it takes its name) are the Roero chestnut trees, “chestnuts of the Madonna,” some of which are hundreds of years old. This particular species is prized both for the early ripening of its nuts in early autumn and its ability to adapt to an altitude of 1,000 feet (a bit lower than other species). Historically crucial to the region’s rural economy, the chestnut was called the “plant of bread,” its fruit once one of the main sources of food (prior to the arrival of potatoes from the “New World”) and its wood was an essential raw material.
The path then continues to Saint Nicolao along an important bird migration route and then to your agriturismo hotel. After some time to relax and refresh, you depart for an optional hands-on cooking lesson at Il Mongalletto, a traditional Roero farmhouse perched high on a hill with panoramic views of the castle and old town of Castellinaldo. For those who choose this option, you’ll prepare several traditional Piedmontese dishes with the expert assistance of Il Mongalletto’s chef. Dinner (for everyone) is a festive affair featuring the fruits of your (or your traveling companions’) labor.
Day 5 - Diano d'Alba to Grinzane Cavour (2 miles, Easy) / Grinzane Cavour Castle / Castiglione Falletto to Monforte d’Alba (5 miles, Easy to Moderate)
This morning you leave the Roero and enjoy a scenic transfer into the heart of the Langhe region, the home of Barolo wine and a landscape of rolling, vineyard-covered hills topped by medieval villages and ancient fortresses, and connected by a series of country roads and walking paths. The name “Langhe” has uncertain and ancient origins; some theories are “land of the Ligurians,” “the uncultivated land” or “the tongues of land.”
Arriving at the pretty village of Diano d’Alba, set off on a trail that connects to Grinzane Cavour and offers stunning views of the Alps. Descending steadily, you wind through vineyards (planted with the Dolcetto vines for which Diano is famous) and hazelnut cultivations. You are rewarded by sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and the impressive Grinzane castle, your morning’s final destination.
Following a visit to the 13th-century castle where the famous truffle auction is held each fall, a short bus ride brings you to the village of Castiglione Falletto. Another hilltop wine-producing village, Castiglione Falletto is endowed with a castle with stark undecorated towers, striking in their austere beauty. Enjoy a light lunch, such as frittata of the day with a salad, at a family-run restaurant with a spectacular view over the surrounding countryside.
Fortified by lunch, you continue on foot to your final destination and home for two nights – Monforte d’Alba (for those who prefer to go directly to the hotel, a minibus transfer is provided). An easy descent along the paved road turns into a path that crosses vineyards and woods, and emerges at a stream near a spring. The trail continues flat through more forest and then climbs steeply, eventually reaching the 12th-century chapel of Santo Stefano. Passing through the pretty village of Perno, you are likely to find its hillsides adorned with wildflowers, among which are some of the 43 different species of orchids that are present in the Langhe – representing almost half of all Italian orchid species.
A final climb brings you to the entrance of your historic hotel, an 18th-century villa converted into a charming hotel just outside the ancient town walls. Upon settling into your inviting room, enjoy an independent evening of strolling and dining in Monforte, a charming village in which archeological studies have uncovered traces of Neolithic as well as Roman settlements. Monforte owes its name to the walled castle that stood at the summit in the Middle Ages.
Accommodation: Villa Beccaris - 2nights
Day 6 - Monforte to Barolo (3.5 miles, Easy) / Wine tasting at Marchesi di Barolo Castello di Barolo / La Morra to Barolo (3.5 miles, Easy to Moderate)
After an espresso or cappuccino with an enticing buffet breakfast, you may choose to arrange an early morning optional hot-air balloon ride (at your own expense: approximately 210 euros per person, with a minimum of 2 people) prior to the morning’s walk. Setting off on foot from your hotel, today’s trails venture through the heart of Barolo country. From the historic center of Monforte, the panoramic path leads down the valley to Novello, one of the 11 Barolo wine-producing villages. Continue through vineyards and on to Barolo, the town that gave its name to the world-renowned wine. Unlike most of the wine-producing villages, Barolo is not perched on a hilltop but rather lies relatively low in the valley. The name is thought to derive from the Celtic "bas reul,” meaning “low place.”
Arriving at the historic Marchesi di Barolo winery, we are welcomed for a tour and tasting. The “king of wines and wine of kings” according to the Piedmontese, Barolo is made from the Nebbiolo grape and its production is centered in the towns you have been walking to and from: Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Monforte d’Alba and Serralunga d’Alba. During your tour, learn about the unique terroir, (local soil and climate), the wine’s production, refined and intense taste, and its relatively long aging process. The historic family-run winery is considered one of the founding Barolo vineyards.
By midday, a short transfer brings you to the town of La Morra, known as “the terrace of the Langhe.” Following an introductory walk in town, arrive for a fascinating and delicious lunch at a small family-run agricultural mill, the Mulino Sobrino. You are taken through the mill and introduced to traditional milling methods and antique machinery, including a stone to grind vintage varieties of locally grown wheat and grains into organic flour and cereals. The tour concludes with a light lunch featuring the mill’s own flours, either at the mill itself or at nearby Il Laghetto, a small osteria.
This afternoon’s walk leads from La Morra back to Barolo, and offers a different perspective of the heart of this area. Passing through the main cru vineyards of Barolo, you will see Castello della Volta, a privately owned 13th-century manor house, before arriving at the main square of Barolo. Here you are able to enjoy some free time to explore the village or go for a gelato or coffee at one of the town’s many cafés. A short transfer returns you to your hotel, where you have time to relax before a festive Farewell Dinner to toast the week’s adventures in the hotel’s “Limonaia” – an attached greenhouse conservatory.
Day 7 - Visit to Alba / Transfer to Turin for departure
Your last morning in this special region includes a visit to Alba, the truffle “capital,” where the outdoor market and shops are brimming with local specialties. There is free time to browse, or visit its 13th-century town hall and cathedral built over the 12th to 15th centuries, before continuing on to Turin, where you bid farewell to newfound friends.
Limitations & Restrictions
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