Many argue that Piedmont produces the best food in all of Italy. The Langa and Roero regions of Piedmont are in one of the most important wine production areas in Italy, and received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2014. The Chef Bike Tour of Piedmont will take us to the heart of these regions, over rolling hills covered with endless vineyards and past ancient castles and hidden hilltop hamlets. You’ll see how connected the local people are to the land, and how they take pride in everything they produce.
Chef Mary Sue Milliken participated in the inaugural Chef Bike Tour in 2017 and in the Sicily one in 2018. Her knowledge and charm made those trips come alive. She was as happy in the kitchen as she was on the bike and she jumped on the opportunity to come back with Tourissimo for a third time! Even better, she will be joined by her husband Josh Schweitzer. Josh is an accomplished architect and artist - and Mary Sue's home sous chef - and the duo has set to be the perfect host on this grand yet intimate culinary adventure.
Mary Sue has co-authored five cookbooks, co-starred in nearly 400 episodes of the Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales.” In 2018, Mary Sue and her friend and business partner Susan Feniger became the first women to receive the Julia Child Award for their contribution to the way America eats and drinks.
Vineyards cover most of the hills here and wines such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera and Nebbiolo are perfectly paired with dishes that will make each meal a gastronomic event. Towns like Pollenzo, Monforte, and Alba are perfect stops for a taste of what the region has to offer, where strolling through the cobbled streets and sitting in geranium-decked piazzas is a great way to end a day on the bike.
On this special edition Chef Bike Tour you will stay in Pollenzo where the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Science is based. You will learn about the Slow Food movement right at its birthplace and with the students and chefs of the University. Accommodations during your journey include a UNESCO site, a wine estate, and a boutique hotel in the countryside. In early October, it might still be harvest time for the nebbiolo grapes and the colors make the hills and vineyards look like they are painted!
Two important wine regions, Langa and Roero
UNESCO World Heritage Site (vineyards landscape)
Villages of Barolo and Barbaresco, the namesakes of two world-famous red wines
Lecture at Slow Food University
Stunning cycling along rolling hills covered with vineyards and quaint medieval villages
Views that stretch as far as the Alps
Castle-topped villages, which lend a historic and romantic feel to the area
Some of the best regional food in Italy, including truffles, cheese, and hazelnut Gianduja chocolates
Dinner at 3 Michelin-starred restaurants
Pollenzo - Bike fitting
One of your guides will meet you at Milan Airport for a late morning shuttle to Corte Albertina in Pollenzo. You’ll have time to visit this interesting village, which is steeped in history. This site received the official recognition of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 as part of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy. It now houses the University of Gastronomical Sciences, founded by the internationally recognized Slow Food Association. Slow Food began as a sophisticated parody of McDonalds’ arrival in Italy (Slow Food vs. Fast Food) and has grown into an international crusade for the preservation of culinary traditions, biodiversity and “the right to good taste.” We will stay at Albergo dell’Agenzia, which is in the main building of Corte Albertina, and which includes an immense park that was a hunting reserve of King Carlo Alberto. We will gather for a late lunch and for introductions over a glass of wine. In the afternoon we'll check the bikes and adjust them to your liking. Our first dinner is at the hotel and it will showcase some elegant preparation of Slow Food Presidia.
Roero - 30 miles - Hilly
We’ll start the day climbing a ridge overlooking the Tanaro river valley. We’ll pass through San Martino Alfieri, Castello di Govone, Priocca and Castellinaldo, all on the high plateau of the Roero region. Here you are in
La Morra and Benevello - 25 miles - Hilly
Today we’ll say farewell to the Roero and ride from Pollenzo to the Langa wine area past more vineyards, where no doubt you will see local workers in the fields. Tractors and trucks laden with grapes might hoot as you cycle along wine must scented villages. Our first stop is in La Morra. La Morra is considered the balcony of the Langhe because of its wonderful views of the entire area. Take your time here and have your cameras ready! Today we have our cooking class and lunch at the Marrone Family Winery. Time to enjoy life and to taste some Barolo on the terrace! Our chef and the Marrone family ladies will engage everyone during this fun, yet professional cooking workshop. We then ride to the 13th century Grinzane Cavour castle, once home to the famous strategist Cavour. We then pedal on a ridge, which is part of the Alta Langa, the highest and wildest portion of this territory. The vegetation changes as hazelnut-topped woodland covers the northern side of the round and gentle hills. These hazelnuts are harvested by the ton and transported to the Ferrero factory in Alba to make the famous Nutella spread, as well as Italian Gianduja chocolates, which you should of course try! Our hotel affords a great view of the Alps.
Dinner is at the Michelin starred hotel restaurant.
Barbaresco Loop - 24 miles - Rolling
The area southwest of Alba is part of the Barbaresco wine production zone. The three villages where Nebbiolo grapes for Barbaresco wine can be grown are Neive, Treiso, and Barbaresco. The original, small, and elegant villages of Barbaresco and Neive will be part of our ride today. As you approach Barbaresco, its imposing
Serralunga d'Alba and Alba - 18 or 28 miles - Rolling
This morning we’ll have a short ride so that you can enjoy the stunning Fontanafredda Estate. We will visit the on-site "royal" cellars of the estate. The Savoy royal family, in fact, owned the place. It could very well be the birthplace of Barolo itself. Our loop ride will lead to a secondary valley where we will go truffle hunting with a real
Piazza Duomo in Alba is at the pinnacle of regional cuisine. They are currently the 16th Best Restaurant in the World (50 Best Restaurants in the World.) The kitchen is headed by Chef Enrico Crippa (7th Best Chef) who procures the freshest regional ingredients (everything comes from a radius of 50 kilometers), some of which comes from the restaurant’s vegetable garden. An impressive wine selection will afford a memorable wine pairing. White truffles, of course, will be on the menu.
Barolo Loop - 17 or 21 miles - Hilly
Today is Barolo day! We ride to the unpretentious village named after the King of Wines. We’ll visit the Enoteca Regionale di Barolo (regional cellar of Barolo), where you will have an instructive explanation of the Barolo wine production area. Between La Morra and Barolo, you’ll ride past rows of
The final highlight of this epic culinary journey is dinner with Chef Ugo Alciati. You will learn how "Da Guido" restaurant - started by his father - completely changed fine dining in Piedmont.
The Langa region is a true paradise for gourmands. In Angelo Gaja’s words, (Gaja is a central figure in Piedmont’s wine identity) “People truly come here to explore their passion for food and wine.” The territory offers first class ingredients, that together with traditions handed down from generation to generation, allow you to enjoy the authentic Langa dishes. The egg pasta used to prepare the tajarin, or plin, ravioli is homemade and the precious veal meat from the Province of Granda (name of the province of Cuneo in local dialect) is the basis for the preparation of ancient recipes like hand chopped raw meat, cold veal with tuna sauce and red wine braised meat. The simplest dishes are usually the most delicious and they look like they have been specially created to espouse the most precious autumnal ingredient, the Alba White Truffle, which will enhance their perfumes and tastes. In fact, the Slow Food movement was born in Bra (near Alba). The regional wine production boasts the most DOCG appellations of any other region in Italy, and during the week we will learn about Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Arneis and many other indigenous grapes. Most family-run wineries in Barolo are small and don’t do winery tours, as you would expect if you were in France or Napa. Luckily, Tourissimo will get the doors open for you.