The Hidden Secrets of Italy's Langhe Region

Piedmont, Italy’s largest winegrowing region, hides within itself the Langhe, a self-contained and unique landscape wedged between the Ligurian Apennine to the south, the Tanaro River to the west and north, and the province of Asti to the east.

The Langhe offers a varied landscape of hills and valleys of remarkable fertility and beauty, which have given rise to a refined culinary tradition. You may come across the “Langhe” name when tasting some of the distinguished products made there: the Barolo, Barbaresco, Dolcetto and Moscato wines; the Piedmont hazelnut and the delicious sweets that it inspired; or the Alba truffle.

Every hill chain and valley has its own unmistakable identity and has produced its own dialect, customs and traditions, all of which add up to a small universe rich in surprises.

* The Langhe of Barolo and Dolcetto – On the main square of La Morra, itself a balcony boasting one of the most spectacular views of the Langhe, rises a monument to the winegrower, the central figure of this land which produces Italy’s most famous wine, Barolo, from the local Nebbiolo grape.

Vineyards are everywhere in the Langhe, from Grinzane to Monforte, from Serralunga to Barolo, from Castiglion Falletto to Verduno, and from Novello to La Morra. Winegrowing is a continuous effort that shapes and changes both the landscape and the inhabitants of the Langhe.

When contemplating the process of winemaking, you will discover the continuity of ancient traditions, the signs of an ancient farming civilization whose products and artifacts can be admired in the wine cellars of Grinzane, La Morra and Barolo; in the farming museum of the Abbiazia dell’Annunziata; and in the shops located in the castle of Grinzan.

Dogliani, the hometown of one-time Italian President Luigi Einaudi, is admired as much for the Dolcetto that comes from its wine cellars as for the neoclassical brick buildings of its most famous architect, Schellino. Diano D’Alba is another name associated with the richly flavored Dolcetto wine.

* The Langhe of Barbaresco?- The gentle hills which enclose the Tanaro Valley and form a gateway to the town of Alba are the first harbinger of a rougher, more mountainous Langhe.

The sun-drenched slopes produce Nebbiolo grapes which, after maturing in oak barrels in one of the many wine cellars that dot the hills, will become Barbaresco wine.

The slopes that remain hidden in the shade are covered with woods and hide another Langhe delicacy: the Alba truffle.?From the top of its hill, the small town of Neive enchants with its Roman and Baroque buildings, and opens the view upon the lands of another famous wine, Moscato.

* The Langhe of the Moscato – This area stretches across the hills of Santo Stefano Belbo, Cossano, Neviglie and Mango, and has been made famous by the writer Cesare Pavese, who was born in Santo Stefano Belbo in 1908. The art of Pavese remains linked to this landscape, whose beauty he has sung in his novels “A House on the Hill,” “Holiday in August,” and “The Moon and the Bonfire.”

* The Langhe of the Hazelnut?Cortemilia – Located at the confluence of the Bormida and Uzzone Rivers is the capital of the Langhe round hazelnut. The hazelnut is celebrated during an August festival when the perfume of the hazelnut cake fills the winding streets of quaint Cortemilia.

Of Roman origin, the town of Cortemilia boasts a small architectural jewel, the church of the Pieve Madonna, and a medieval tower with the remains of a castle that overlooks the town.

Starting from Cortemilia, you may follow the course of the Uzzone River, encountering the quiet stone-built towns of Pezzolo, Castelletto Uzzone, Gorrino and Gottasecca. Further still, you’ll come upon the sanctuary of Todocco. Along the course of the river Bormida, you’ll pass through Torre Bormida, Levice, Gorzegno and then Prunetto.

These are the most secluded parts of the Langhe, more like mountains than hills and rich in mushrooms, chestnuts and undisturbed silence.?The High Langhe?Meadows, woods and hazelnut groves fill the landscape of the High or Alta Langa, which can be reached from Alba through Montelupo, Serravalle, Bossolasco, Murazzano and Sale Langhe.

Side trips may lead you to Lequio Berria, Albaretto della Torre, Arguello, Cerretto Langhe, Bonvicino, Cravanzana, Feisoglio, Niella Belbo or San Benedetto Belbo, where the search for a special rustic restaurant or a local treat – such as Tuma cheese from Murazzano or hazelnut cake from any of the local bakeries – has become a favorite weekend activity.

Lodging in the Langhe offers numerous options. Locals recommend the Hotel Villa Beccaris, which sits on a hill overlooking a vast expanse of grapevines. Room rates begin at $294.

For a memorable meal, visit Belvedere restaurant, which also offers vineyard views. The classic Piedmont cuisine includes selections such as vitello tonnato, porcini and white truffles.

And when in Barolo, be sure to check out the museum that is devoted to the wonders of viticulture. After all, you ventured to the Langhe for the wine; the friendly accommodations, fabulous dining and magnificent scenery are just a bonus.

For Further Information…

Hotel Villa Beccaris

Monforte d’Alba

Belvedere Restaurant

La Morra

General Information

Posted in Our Wine Travel Log
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