Excellent cuisine, great wines, beautiful lands, hospitality. These are all things you can find in Langhe-Roero-Monferrato, part of Piedmont’s territory recognized as a World Heritage Site for its outstanding beauty in the words of Unesco: “is an exceptional living testimony to the cultural, economic and traditional history of winemaking to the rural vineyard landscape of the region”.
Autumn and winter are the “prince” seasons to discover Asti and Piedmontese enogastronomy. “September of Asti”, which opens the doors to autumn, is characterized by four events that attract tens of thousands of tourists in the city. It starts the first sunday of the month with the “Palio d’Asti”, the oldest of Italy, followed by the “Festival delle sagre astigiane”, an enogastronomic event held on the second weekend of the month, which transforms the city into an open restaurant. “September of Asti” is dominated by the “Douja d’Or” (which lasts ten days), among the most important wine competitions in Italy, and concludes itself the fourth weekend with “Arti e Mercanti”, a journey back in time between ancient crafts, artists and taverns.
Known all over the world for its wines, the main vine of the territory is Moscato Bianco or Moscato di Canelli, from which a sparkling wine is obtained, Asti Spumante wine, a Passito wine and a “quiet” quality. As for red wines, surely Barbera is the most widespread production; other important red wines are Dolcetto, Grignolino, Freisa and Ruché.
To accompany this wines, there is a traditional culinary offer of all respect. The king of the table is definitely the truffle, which can be grated on risotto and plin (stuffed pasta made by hand, photo on the bottom left) or on raw beef meat; other typical dishes are veal with tuna sauce, bagna cauda (photo on the bottom right), veal tongue in green sauce (bagnet verd), rabbit tuna, agnolotti and egg tagliatelle (tajarin) with roast sauce, truffle or porcini mushrooms; boiled beef ox with polenta “concia” (dressed with stringy cheese), roast veal and braised meat (photo in the upper right corner).
You can visit and enjoy this places even just on a weekend and what better base of support than Asti? The city is also the headquarters of the Asti Docg Consortium which works for the protection, enhancement and promotion of Asti Docg and Moscato d’Asti Docg in Italy and in the world.
First Day – Canelli (Asti) and Santo Stefano Belbo (Cuneo)
Canelli is one of the world’s wine capitals, home of Moscato and sparkling wine, is famous for its underground aging cellars. These are real underground cathedrals, which branch off under the city, masterpieces of engineering and winemaking architecture, where millions of bottles left to ferment at a constant temperature of 12-14 degrees take on the aromas and flavors typical of sparkling wine and Canellese wine. Since 2014, the town and Asti Spumante are Unesco World Heritage Site.
Another jewel of the town is the castle of Canelli or Palazzo Gancia, built in the eleventh century iscurrently owned by the Gancia family, one of the historic wineries of Monferrato.
Santo Stefano Belbo is a small town that is part of the Alta Langa mountain community, known both for its wine production and for having given birth to the writer Cesare Pavese. From Relais San Maurizio, an ancient XVII century monastery nowcharming hotel that is part of the Relais & Châteaux association, you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the hills and valleys below.
Second Day – Costigliole d’Asti (Asti) and Acqui Terme (Alessandria)
Costigliole d’Asti is located in the center of one of the most suitable areas for the cultivation of Barbera. Not by chance, the noble floor of the Castle of Costigliole d’Asti is the headquarters of the Consortium of the Barbera d’Asti and of the Monferrato.
Acqui Terme is the home of the Brachetto vine, from which the Brachetto d’Acqui originates, a sweet and sparkling wine. The new arrival is Acqui Docg Rosé sparkling wine. The city is also home of the Consortium for the Promotion of Acqui Wines controlling and regulating the cultivation of Brachetto.
The first appointment for those arriving in the city is the visit to Piazza della Bollente, on the side of the central Corso Italia. Here, at the center of the square, there is an octagonal marble aedicule, built in 1879 by architect Giovanni Ceruti, which surrounds a thermal spring from which hot and curative water gushes: 560 liters per minute at 74.5° C of a sulphurous-salso-bromo-iodic water.
Visible from the Carlo Alberto bridge on the Bormida river, are the remains of the Roman aqueduct. The structure, one of the symbols of the city, dates back to the imperial era and the pipeline was originally 13 km long. It’s one of the structures of this kind best preserved in Northern Italy. Other important testimonies of the Roman period are found in the city, for example the remains of the calidarium swimming pool of a thermal facility, next to the Hotel Nuove Terme, directly connected to the Regie Terme Acqui Thermal Center. Open at the end of the 19th century, the Hotel soon became one of the most popular lounges in Europe.
Third Day – Nizza Monferrato (Asti) and Grinzane Cavour (Cuneo)
Nizza Monferrato is located in the heart of Monferrato, is one of the most famous Italian wine production sites in the world, especially for red wines and sparkling wines. Unesco World Heritage Site for its landscape assets and for Barbera wine, after Asti is, together with Canelli, the most important center of the province. On the first Sunday of December is celebrated the Fat Ox Fair, which since the early 1800s was one of the most important events. The central Piazza Garibaldi is the frame that houses the heads of oxen that will be evaluated and then rewarded. The “Great Boiled” no stop and the Lunch of the Fair are then served at the Foro Boario.
Barbera is the best vine of these hills and from its fine grapes is obtained a Barbera d’Asti of very high organoleptic qualities, to the point of inducing the competent organs to recognize a sub-zone of the highest quality, that which represents the territory of the 18 municipalities where you can produce the superior Barbera d’Asti Nizza. Barbera Cipressi Nizza of Michele Chiarlo this year has won the first place in the American Whine Enthusiast ranking of the 100 Top wines that every year the editors of the author choose among the more than 20,000 bottles from 17 countries.
The name of the small village Grinzane Cavour pays tribute to the Risorgimento Statesman Camillo Benso Count of Cavour since 1916. He was mayor of Grinzane for seventeen years: from May 1832 to February 1849. The town is dominated by the imposing medieval castle, home to the regional wine shop, of the Langhe museum. Here in November takes place the world auction of white truffle of Alba.
You can be are sure that will be three days full of goodness and beauty. Off the beaten paths of the Langhe, on the trail of Moscato and Barbera wines.