We first visited Piemonte in Autumn four years ago and were struck by the incredible landscapes, colours and seasonal food and wine tastes of the region at this time….and thought this is an experience we definitely need to share.
October is not a highly sought after month for Australian cyclists travelling to Italy so we decided to develop our Piemonte@Harvest tour as a unique opportunity for groups of 10-12 friends wanting to experience this beautiful region at this very special time of year. Tailored to specific groups, the tour is designed to have an equal focus on cycling, food, wine and cultural immersion and includes a 40-50km morning ride, a harvest food and wine experience like no other, and a range of activities that immerse guests into the culture and traditions of the region – activities that are often reserved for our non riding guests on our core cycling tours.
Our recent Piemonte@Harvest tour brought together a group of friends wanting to enjoy an active holiday, coupled with an unparalleled Italian food and wine experience, and despite some patchy weather, the tour was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Based on the group’s interests, we enjoyed 2 nights and days in the beautiful town of Saluzzo and in the mountain range on its doorstep, boasting the infamous Monviso, before then transferring to Le Langhe for 5 nights to soak up the atmosphere of the Alba White Truffle and Nebbiolo harvest, and the spectacular Autumn vines. We then finished with a final day and night in the stylish city of Torino.
Major highlights included:
Pian del Re – Cottian Alps
This famous climb in the Cottian Alps was just magical on an atmospheric, misty day. Winding our way through the Po Valley, our riders climbed while our non riders enjoyed a guided hike. All experienced the magic of this stunning Piemontese mountain range on an Autumn day.
The scenery – the layers of mist and sweeping fogs, coupled with the autumn colours
The valleys of Le Langhe are picturesque all year around, however the sweeping fogs and layers of mist that came in daily across the brightly coloured Autumn vines, created an everchanging spectacle. The views were breathtaking and on our final day, with clear skies, the mountains in the distance emerged and were lit up by the pink of sunrise.
Riding amongst the colourful vines and the atmospheric mist
Riding amongst the Autumn vines in Piemonte on free flowing, winding roads and with almost no cars in sight, is just pure magic. The hills and valleys are alive and have a way of awakening the senses; from the visual explosion of Autumn colour as far as the eye can see, to the sweet smell of grapes being handpicked and crushed, to the incredible tastes of seasonal truffle and hazelnuts in abundance, riding through the still valleys of Le Langhe, is an almost meditative riding experience. Pure magic.
White truffle pasta and Barolo wine
If there is one meal you must experience in Piemonte in Autumn, it is the delicate taste of home made tajarin con tartufo bianco or very fine tagliatelle style pasta with white truffle. This is just quite simply a taste like no other and an absolute taste sensation. Coupled with a glass of Barolo, this is a match made in heaven.
Still a very traditional practice, an experience of truffle hunting in Piemonte with the trifolaio and his dog, is a very special one. Observing the relationship between man and dog, and the joy shared with the discovery of a truffle, is just magical. We joined in the hunt amongst the beautiful hazelnut trees and through a very tranquil forest of oak, where the connection with nature is just beautiful in itself, but then when Kelly found a white truffle, there was joy all around. Life’s simple pleasures don’t get much better than this.
Enjoying seasonal and traditional dishes in gastronomic Piemonte is one thing, but learning how to cook them in a 3 hour cooking class, takes the experience to another level. Starting with seasonal Autumn produce, we learned to make a warming soup of very local leek and broccoli, the traditional bagna cauda with the sweetest of red peppers and anchovy sauce, ravioli plin filled with the most sensational rabbit and pork filling and with a simple butter and sage sauce and to finish off, a zabaglione with a traditional Piemontese hazelnut biscuit. Hands on and interactive, our cooking experience was a lot of fun and being able to enjoy the fruits of our labour in a 4 course, sit down meal afterwards with a glass of Nebbiolo was just the ticket on a cool Autumn day.
A night out in Torino
Grand piazza’s, beautiful arcades and stunning architecture all around, and home to many beautiful old cafes and bars that are now heritage protected, and oozing style, Torino is one of our favourite cities in Italy. Our final day and night in Torino included a walking tour that helped us learn and appreciate so much about the history and culture of this beautiful city, followed by aperitivo in a grand old bar on the piazza and a 5 course degustation of the finest of Piemontese cuisine. It was the perfect way to end a 9 day tour with a group of friends who savoured every experience.
If you are interested in joining us in Piemonte, we have 4 spots left available on our Tour of Piemonte & La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo in June 2020, or if you have a group of 10-12 people who would like to enjoy a custom tour of Piemonte@Harvest, then please contact us anytime.