Truffles, Wine & Hazelnuts In Le Langhe, Piedmont: Best Things To Do

Wandering through little towns nestled in the rolling hills of Langhe is like stepping inside nature’s perfumery with whiffs of hazelnuts, truffles and grapes.

In Piedmontese, langa means “hill.” Hence, Langhe, or “multiple hills,” encompasses Cuneo province boasting lush hills and quaint villages that develop wines that sing, aromatic yet musky truffles, as well as hazelnuts so fragrant that makes breathing the air of Langhe into pure joy.

This northern region of Italy is also protected by UNESCO World Heritage for its high value in wine production and rich culture. But Langhe has long captivated foodies for truffles that grow underground, especially since hazelnuts are one of the hardwood trees that help them foster, many can be discovered in Piedmont. In Alba – a tiny Piemontese township – an authentic specie of white truffle called tuber magnatum is the most highly-coveted due to its unique taste. With a bigger size at 9 centimeters in diameter and limited supply, these golden white truffles are the lusts of culinary experts during every fall, or typically from September to December.

Thanks to Langhe’s fertile forests of marl and clay soil, white truffles flourish the best from roots of poplar and oak trees. Every truffle is detected by a dog in the woods, then the hunter retrieves the truffle and cleans it. If you have four nights to spare, here are some of the best places to visit in Langhe, Piedmont. It won’t be hard to do so, but enjoy the Italian wine country!

Barbaresco

One of the most famous municipalities in Piedmont, or Piemonte in Italian, is Barbaresco, home to beautiful red wine productions from the Nebbiolo grape and a medieval tower. Its name stems from “barbarica silver,” which means “forest of barbarians” – a term used by the Romans referring to forests that prosper throughout this area. The village is located on the right bank of Tanaro river, while many of the best restaurants in Langhe can be found here in Barbaresco, including Campamac Osteria.

Walking into this renowned restaurant, it’s clear that Campamac lives by what its name stands for: “put in some more, give it more.” Lines of pastas in the making like little soldiers, gigantic meats hung behind glossy glass panels and vast collections of cheeses stored on refined trays; Campamac is an excellent institution serving traditional Piedmontese dishes made from local and premium ingredients. During white truffles season, it’s worth it to go for the White Truffle Menu which includes: Il Tonno Terra with White Truffle (the restaurant’s interpretation of raw meat made with tender Fassona fillet,) I Tajarin with White Truffle (tagliolini with 40 egg yolks and emulsified butter,) Egg & White Truffle (poached egg on soft potato cream,) and Vanilla Ice Cream and White Truffle which surprisingly tasted similar to the saffron ice cream I once had in Iran. The fusion of floral aroma from the vanilla and musky fragrance of the truffle becomes a blended honey-savory. In the best way possible.

Another restaurant to consider is Antinè Bistrot by the medieval tower, with charming interior décor. Chef Manuel Bouchard highlights Piedmontese gastronomy pairing with delicious wines from a comprehensive cellar. Osteria taStè is another dining option to consider as chef and owner, Stefano Giacosa, transformed a former primary school into one of the best restaurants in the region by reinventing traditional recipes with modern techniques, like: onion stuffed with sausage and amaretti biscuits.

Barbaresco by day.
Barbaresco by day. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

 

Barbaresco by night.
Barbaresco by night. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

 

Campamac meats.
Restaurant entrance. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

 

Vanilla ice cream and white truffles.
Vanilla ice cream and white truffles. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Campamac meat
Meat starter. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Campamac shrimp.
Campamac shrimps. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Campamac mushroom starter.
Mmushroom starter. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Campamac starter.
Starter. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Campamac tartar.
Tartare. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Barbaresco wine langhe piedmont
Barbaresco wine. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
I Tajarin with White Truffles langhe piedmont
I Tajarin with White Truffles. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Campamac white truffle
Campamac white truffle. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Barolo

Barolo, Italy
Barolo, Italy. Photo by Andrea Cairone on Unsplash

Barlolo is another popular small gem in the province of Cuneo, home to some of the best wine productions in southern Europe.

Considered as wines on the higher end, Barolo’s Nebbiolo grape is harder to grow as it requires a longer periods to age and process in oak barrels. Since the cost is higher and supply is limited, Barolo wines are coveted around the world. The colors lean toward lighter hues of red with some hints of orange, meanwhile the aroma is floral with a blend of rose, coffee, berries, chocolate and tar.

The best activity to do here is wine tasting and shopping for Barolo wines, a delightful place to do so is at Enoteca La Vite Turchese – Wine Tasting – Wine Shop where a tasting session is accompanied by superb explanation by its knowledgeable staff.

Other landmarks to admire include: Castello Comunale Falletti di Barolo, Barolo’s main fortress built in the 10th century as a way to fend off Hungarians and Saracens. Corkscrew Museum is also another interesting spot to taste wines while learning about the evolution and history of corkscrews.

Another highly recommended winery to visit is the Cantina Marchesi di Barolo, which commenced in 1814 by Juliette Colbert, a noblewoman who was also the daughter of King Louis XIV’s Minister of Finance. When Colbert married Marquis Carlo Tancredi Falletti of Barolo, she grew fascinated in the area’s terroir then eventually cultivated Barolo’s wine culture into what we know as today. Since the couple didn’t have any children, the estate now belongs to non-profit Pia di Barolo. 100 years later, the Abbona family purchased the winery and continues to foster the premium culture of winemaking that it was always destined to be.

La Vite Turchese, Barolo.
La Vite Turchese, Barolo. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Barolo
Barolo. Photo by Simona Sergi on Unsplash

Neive

Nestled on a hillock between Barbaresco and Castagnole delle Lanze (see below) is the gorgeous Neive, where nobles and bourgeoisies chose to live due to the village’s prosperity from wine production.

Tangerine edifice, cobblestone alleys and architecture covered in green vines make Neive a dream to stroll through. The Romans were already settling here around 100 B.C., then the fortified castle was erected during the Middle Ages, followed by the monastery built by Benedictine monks from the Fruttuaria Abbey. The ancient Clock Tower from the 13th century has now become the emblem of the municipality.

Of course, one thing to do here is to eat well and drink even better. The four types of wines produced in the hills of Neive include: Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto d’Alba, and Moscato d’Asti. Lunch at Castelbourg, where the hotel is housed in a restored building from the 17th century. Indulge in fried ravioli, pane fritto (fried bread,) and endless wines that are just as delicious as friselle (open-faced sandwiches.)

Enoteca in Neive.
Enoteca in Neive. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

 

Castelbourg in Neive.
Castelbourg in Neive. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Fried ravioli.
Fried ravioli. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Pane fritto
Pane fritto. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Neive.
Neive. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Neive history.
Neive history. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Neive building.
Neive building. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Neive architecture.
Neive architecture. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Alba

Alba – the most well-known town in Piedmont – is synonymous with white truffles as well as both Barbaresco and Barolo wines. Notably, Alba is home to the oldest White Truffle Fair in the world, it’s usually held between October and November.

In addition to white truffles, Alba is also celebrated for Cathedral of San Lorenzo and neo-Gothic architectural style. The renowned cathedral is located in Piazza Risorgimento historically known for mercantile trade. Close by is Alba’s Town Hall, constructed on ancient Roman walls that feature significant paintings. Next to it, there’s the church of San Domenico from 12th century and Baroque Confraternity of St. Joseph from 17th century.

To devour like a true foodie is to stop by Michelin-starred Piazza Duomo Alba, where chef Enrico Crippa incorporates traditional dishes and modern approach of utilizing flowers and herbs that he grows in a private garden near Alba. La Piola is another tasty choice (or Piazza Duomo Alba’s younger and a more relaxed son,) serving Piedmontese dishes. For a laidback fare, Osteria Italia Citabiunda is a wonderful option where truffle dishes are featured on its changing menu marked on a chalk board. Since hazelnut is a locally-sourced favorite, don’t miss the Nutella ravioli for dessert. For a gourmet option, Ristorante Larossa is where chef Andrea Larossa has enormous fun with the history and traditions of Piedmont. All of it showcased in a contemporary fine-dining setting.

Alba, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
L’alba di San Quirico d’Orcia. Photo by Giuseppe Mondì on Unsplash

 

Osteria Italia Citabiunda Alba Italy langhe piedmont
Truffles on fried eggs. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Osteria Italia Citabiunda Alba Italy
White truffles. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Osteria Italia Citabiunda Alba Italy langhe piedmont
Truffles. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Osteria Italia Citabiunda Alba Italy langhe piedmont
Risotto. PHOTO WENDY HUNG