By Lori Sorrentino
What is the Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato?
When it comes to wine, many travelers to Italy think of Tuscany first, one of its most popular wine destinations. But the Piedmont region (Piemonte) in northern Italy is not only home to a spectacular vineyard landscape, it’s also where the King of Wine, Barolo, is produced.
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Given that Piedmont is the birthplace of the slow food movement that defines Italy on the world stage when it comes to food and wine, it’s not surprising that this Italian region produces such powerhouse wines.
Why is the Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont a UNESCO World Heritage site?
UNESCO bestowed the World Heritage title on Piedmont for its “outstanding living testimony to winegrowing and winemaking traditions”. Five distinct wine-growing areas in Langhe-Roero and Monferrato plus the Castle of Grinzane Cavour represent the best of Piedmont’s authentic wine culture. The five regions included in the designation are:
- Langa of Barolo
- Hills of Barbaresco
- Nizza Monferrato and Barbera
- Canelli and Asti Spumante
- Monferrato of the Inferot
The title recognized Piedmont as an outstanding example of humanity’s relationship to our environment and the cultural landscape around winemaking in the region. One individual in particular was influential in improving the vine cultivations in Langhe in the mid-19th century. Camillo Benso, the Count of Cavour, restored the castle and became the region’s leading proponent of traditional winemaking in this part of Italy. Today, you can visit the Castle of Grinzane Cavour and its lovely gardens on the grounds.
What can you expect on a visit to the Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont?
Ideally situated between the port city of Genoa and the warm Ligurian coast and the towering Italian Alps, Piedmont shares borders with France and Switzerland as well. One look at a map tells a great deal, most notably perhaps is the effect of the region’s warm sunny days and cool nights on the making of world-famous Barolo wine, among others. The mountainous terrain in the north boasts some of the most beautiful small lakes in Italy’s lake district. The hilly terrain to the south is renowned for good food and wine. The capital city of Turin (Torino) is the former Imperial capital of Italy and makes a great base from which to explore the wealth and beauty of this stunning Italian region.
Is Piedmont worth visiting?
For foodies and wine lovers, Piedmont is the perfect Italian destination to visit, offering a glimpse into several authentic foods and wines unique to the region. And while it’s beautiful to visit from May through November, everyone’s favorite time of year to visit is during the fall harvest season.
In addition to Barolo, the Nebbiolo grape also produces Barbera and Langhe Nebbiolo wines.
As for food specialties, the white truffle is an iconic food in Piedmont. It is celebrated every year in the town of Alba at the International White Truffle Fair.
Tips for visiting the Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont
Book wine tastings at wineries well in advance and stay at least a week to visit a few areas in the region. The wine towns of Bra, Alba, Barolo, and Monforte d’Alba all make great bases to explore the area.
The best way to visit Piedmont is on an organized multi-day wine tour or by renting a car and exploring on your own. Driving around Piedmont is not difficult, even with the rolling hills and narrow streets.
While you’re in the region, make sure to stop at one or more of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy, which are in Turin and the surrounding area.
Where is Piedmont?
The region of Piedmont, or Piemonte in Italian, is located in northwestern Italy, just west of the Lombardy region and its capital of Milan, and north of the Ligurian coast.
For more information about the Piedmont wine landscape, see the official website.
Text and photos provided by Lori Sorrentino of Travlinmad, a slow travel blog for unique destinations around the world, and how to slow travel wherever you are.
Have you been to Piedmont? If so, do you have any additional information or advice about this UNESCO World Heritage site? Please add your comments below!