In these depressing and uncertain times we are living in at the moment I need to cheer myself up by thinking about all the wonderful foodie experiences I have had in Italy. This is a perfect time to be able to blog more and I hope sharing my experiences will cheer you up too and make you want to plan trips to Italy once this is all over, They will certainly need our support to rebuild their stricken tourism industry so if I can tempt you to go to the regions that I talk about that is an added bonus.
Last October I was lucky enough to go on a press trip hosted by Visit Piedmonte. Piedmont is one of my favourite regions of Italy both for the beautiful scenery and the wide array of gastronomic delights they offer. My first visit to the area was on a press trip to the Alba White Truffle Fair where I fell in love with this expensive delicacy and then a couple of years later my husband and I stayed in Cocconato and explored the area for a week. We certainly got about ! We visited Asti and Alba, Barolo and Barberesco. We had a day trip to Turin and another day explored the Po Valley and Vercelli, the most important rice growing area in Italy but that is another story.
This time I got to go and explore the Wine Cathedrals in Canelli. Canelli is a small town near Asti which is famous for its fizzy white wine Spumante. Back in the 70’s when I was a teenager it didn’t have a good reputation but now it is of a lot better quality. The wineries in Canelli are situated at the bottom of a hill and their cellars are carved directly into the limestone rock under the hill. The network of cellars and tunnels are known as Wine Cathedrals and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I visited a couple of wineries and their amazing cellars while I was here. Cantina Coppo and Cantina Contratto. The tunnels and caves create the perfect temperature of 12-14 degrees centigrade which is perfect for storing and aging great wines. I thoroughly recommend a visit to these wineries both to explore the cellars and also try their wine.
We then headed off into the countryside to the area of “Monferato degli Infernot” Infernot are similar in principle to the Cathedrals of wine but on a much smaller scale and built by local farmers. The Infernot that I visited was at La Casccia, am organic winery and agriturismo in the small village of Cella Monte. Sitting outside in the sunshine after visiting the cellar I marvelled at the ingenuity and determination of local farmers who dug these out back in the 28th and 19th century.
The next morning we headed off to the small village of Bergamasco which is famous for its truffles. We were given a right royal welcome and taken off for a truffle hunt in the sunshine. It is fascinating how the truffle dog wanders about aimlessly to start with and then suddenly gets the scent of a truffle and starts digging furiously. At this point the truffle hunter pulls back the dog and gives him a dog biscuit and then starts digging very carefully for the truffle himself. It is a very delicate operation as the truffle must not be damaged as they can sometimes be worth thousands of pounds. After the truffle hunt we were invited to a reception at the town hall where we met all the truffle hunters of the village and got to eat some local delicacies including truffles.
I thoroughly recommend a trip to Piedmont. The people are so friendly, the scenery is breathtaking and the food and wine are amazing.
I shall be returning as soon as I possibly can!!