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.
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 Turin 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 official recognition as a 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. 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 preparations of Slow Food presidia.
Roero - 30 miles - Hilly
After breakfast, we’ll meet a representative from the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo to learn - among other things - a bit more about the Slow Food movement. Our first ride starts by 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 true wine country where grape varieties include Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Arneis, no doubt a part of your evening celebrations! Each village you pass through today is topped with a castle. Most are now privately owned and very seldom open for visits, but they add to the uniqueness of the landscape as you enjoy exploring this region. Dinner is at an agriturismo where most products served are locally sourced.
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 staff will engage everyone during this fun, yet professional cooking workshop. 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 fine 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 12th-century tower stands out in the landscape. Almost square-shaped, its height originally reached 36 meters, making it a strategic position overlooking the Tanaro Valley below. The tower is what is left of an imposing fortification once crowning the hilltop where Barbaresco rises. Down a winding ridge, we’ll head towards Abrigo Winery. It’s the perfect opportunity to understand the wine production of this part of Italy. Our chef will help understand wine pairing based on the characteristics of each wine. The complete range of Orlando Abrigo wines is a true expression of traditional Langhe winemaking. After lunch and wine tasting, we head back to the hotel where you can enjoy some free time before dinner.
Serralunga d'Alba and Alba - 18 or 32 miles - Rolling
Our ride will lead to a secondary valley where we will go truffle hunting with a real trifulau and his trusted dog. This is an experience you won’t forget! The white truffle is a delicacy that has made these hills famous among chefs worldwide. We then ride to the 13th-century Grinzane Cavour castle, once home to the famous strategist Cavour.
For dinner, we will land in Alba, the capital of the white truffle area. Of Celtic and Ligurian origin, called Alba Pompeia by the Romans, the town has kept a spiral-shaped medieval plan. You will have time to explore the elegant town center before gathering for dinner. There are only 8 three Michelin star restaurants in Italy. Piazza Duomo in Alba is one of them and is at the pinnacle of regional cuisine. They are currently the 18th Best Restaurant in the World (50 Best Restaurants in the World.) The kitchen is headed by Chef Enrico Crippa who procures the freshest regional ingredients, some of which come from the restaurant’s vegetable garden; everything else comes from within a radius of 50 kilometers. An impressive wine selection will afford a memorable wine pairing. White truffles, of course, will be on the menu.
Barolo Loop - 18 or 22 miles - Hilly
Today is Barolo day! This morning we’ll have a short ride so that you can enjoy the stunning Fontanafredda Estate. We will take time to visit the on-site "royal" cellar in the afternoon. The Savoy royal family, in fact, owned the place. It could very well be the birthplace of Barolo itself. We ride to the unpretentious village named after the King of Wines: Barolo. Between La Morra and Barolo, you’ll ride past rows of nebbiolo vines cultivated by such legendary producers as Renato Ratti, Bartolo Mascarello, and Roberto Voerzio.
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.