The landscapes of Langhe and Monferrato can give strong emotions all year through. But in Autumn their beauty is turned into poetry and these places are wrapped by a unique and magical atmosphere. A weekend in the heart of the old Piedmont surrounded by the hilled vineyards, the historical villages, the wine cellars and the restaurants is an experience that will cherish your soul. October is the best month to discover the truffles, the precious fruit from this land which is celebrated from Alba to Moncalvo d’Asti for some weeks since it is the absolute protagonist of all the National and International festivals that are held in this period of the year. Our week-end is starting in Alba, the main city of Langhe. We are welcomed by its Medieval towers above which the last sun of the Friday afternoon is laid. A stroll along the narrow streets of the historical centre leads us to the Trattoria del Bollito where we have a dish of vitello tonnato followed by the Fassona beaten meat which is matched with a good glass of Barbera wine. After a walk along via Vittorio Emanuele we reach piazza Rossetti near the cathedral to spend the night at the hotel San Lorenzo, an elegant house that was once a farmhouse.
Saturday, between the plin and the truffles
For our breakfast we decide to go back to the central Vittorio Emanuele street for a stop at the pasticceria Pettiti, an historical sweetshop of Alba where we can taste and buy the classical nuts cakes, the baci di dama (the lady’s kisses) and the torrone. Then we spend the rest of our morning visiting the area where you can breathe the excitement related to the International Trade-Fair of the White Truffle, the important cultural event that will be held from October the 5th to November the 24th 2019 to celebrate the tastes from Piedmont and its important underground mushroom. Among the treasures you can’t miss there’s the cathedral of San Lorenzo, a beautiful example of the Gothic-Lombard style then there’s also the church of San Domenico that features a beautiful front side divided into a number of pillars, an amazing rose-window and a beautiful doorway topped by a window with some frescoes on it. The historical heart of our destination is featured by characteristic towers and strong houses within a network of narrow streets where you must stop to buy some tasty products in one of the several wine and food stores that are spread all around. At the wine-shop Le Torri you can find the best production of wine and the specialties with truffles, at the pasta factory Corino you can find a lot of fresh pasta while at the agrisalumeria Luiset you can find very good salami and sausages. You can stop at the Osteria dell’Arco for lunch where you can taste the raw beaten meat prepared in the Albese way and the typical “ravioli del plin” (a type of fresh filled pasta) with truffles. In the early afternoon you can head towards Asti. It’s thirty minutes far, you can go through the countryside, the villages, the vineyards, the fruit trees and the hills. It’s a town with important traditions and interesting cultural attractions since it combines its rich art heritage with some old food and wine traditions that are celebrated during the several festivals that are held along the year. In the afternoon you can get lost between Piazza Alfieri, the square of Palio, framed by the characteristic arcades where the elegant shops and the stores stand out and Corso Alfieri which splits the centre of the town into two parts. We are attracted by the historical sweets shop Giordanino where we can buy the truffles from Asti and the little polenta with the three almonds. Then a stop at the wine shop La Cantina gives us the chance to buy some good bottles of wine, it’s near the Baptistery of San Pietro in Consavia. We are going to have dinner at the restaurant La Grotta in Corso Torino where we’ll taste the marinated roast turkey, some good rice cooked with the Brut sparkling wine and one of the most typical sweets called bunet (sort of pudding). By the restaurant you can find the B&B I Glicini, it’s an old farmhouse dating back to the beginning of the 20th century surrounded by the green, you can spend your night there.
Sunday, between the vineyards and the castles
The morning is entirely dedicated to the visit of the architectural wonders of this old town starting with the Collegiate Church of San Secondo, in the Romanesque-Gothic style with three naves and decorated volutes, some medieval frescoes from a Lombard-Piedmont school, the main altar from the Baroque Age and the crypt where the remains of the Patron Saint are kept. Then there is the amazing cathedral, the biggest one in Piedmont, in the Gothic style with decorated walls and vaults, three baptismal fonts, some decorated volutes with anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and vegetal drawings, a beautiful front side and a huge clocktower. You can’t miss a sweet stop at Caffetteria Mazzetti, an elegant literary café. Then there are the Troyana tower, the Red tower, the Alfieri palace, the Malabaila palace, the Ottolenghi palace, the Museum of Risorgimento, the crypt and the Museum of Sant’Anastasio, just to mention a few city landmarks. You can have lunch at the restaurant Campanarò and taste the peppers with the green sauce, a dish of “agnolotti gobbi” (a type of filled fresh pasta) from the Monferrato area and the Giandoja (a type of chocolate) mousse. We are going to spend the last part of our weekend in Moncalvo d’Asti where the Fair of the truffles will be held between the 20th and the 27th October 2019, it’s a lovely village surrounded by the hills, the vineyards, the perched villages and some wonderful castles. Moncalvo is the undisputed food town in this area, it is the land of truffles but also of meat that is celebrated in December with the festival of the fat ox. When we reach the center we’ll plunge into the street markets around the stalls of cheese, the wine, the salami, the marmalade, the chocolate, the sweets and liquors, the best tastes from Piedmont. Among the architectural emergencies there is the church of San Francesco which is set in a dominating position and keeps some important works by Guglielmo Caccia called Moncalvo who was considered the Raffaello from Monferrato. If you fancy buying some delicacies you can stop at the pasta factory Rondano where you can buy the historical local agnolotti and at the Bottega del Vino (wine-store) of Moncalvo you can buy wines like the Grignolino from Asti, the Freisa from Asti and the Barbera from Monferrato. You can have dinner at the trattoria vineria Corona Reale, an historical restaurant in the centre where the Cortese, the Chardonnay, the Grignolino and the Malvasia from the local production are perfect to be sipped while you are eating an omelette with herbs, the hot salamino from Moncalvo with potatoes cream and a taste of “trippa” soup. The evening is approaching on the Monferrato’s hills while our sight is laid on the first lights of the villages perched on the hills, another detail from this part of Piedmont that still recalls of the ancient past.
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