Thursday, August 14, 2014

Country and City in Piemonte, Italy!

     What was supposed to be a rainy weekend turned out to be a gorgeous opportunity for a weekend wine-tasting trip to the Piemonte region of Italy.  This northern region lies to the west of our town, only about two hours away.  Its landscape is similar to that of Tuscany, yet the vineyards are very different.  Many of the vineyards do not welcome visitors, but Stephen and I found a few to tour and taste.  We left on Friday morning after a coffee and arrived at Bruno Rocca after getting lost four times, asking for directions three times, and passing the establishment three times as well.  It isn't wine country if you aren't asking for directions!  

     For lunch we went into the town of Barbaresco which was quite small and very unassuming, yet harbored a beautiful enoteca (wine shop) hidden inside of an old church.  

     Our next stop that day was at Tenuta Carretta whose estate proved to be a jem.  It was very disappointing when our guide informed us that she was too busy to give us a tour and rushed us through a tasting, but we decided to return for dinner that night (which was quite amazing!).

     The next morning we began our day at Ceretto, the most modern winery I've ever been to!  The owners had a giant grape-like bubble built over the vineyard, giving guests a beautiful panoramic view of their grapes and hazelnuts.  (Side note: Hazelnuts are a big deal in Piemonte because the soil is supposed to be conducive to the needs of the tree!)

     I drove up the side of a mountain, actually the one you can see in the background above, to get to the next enoteca!  We finally made it into Barbera and had lunch at an agriturismo down the street from Castello di Verduno where we would have our next tour. The nice old man that greeted us at the Castle did not speak a lick of English, and it took me several minutes to get adjusted to his Italian, but I ended up having a great talk with him and learning a lot about his wines.  He took us to the cellar below, told us about how his family's land and his wife's family's land now comprise all of Castello di Verdunno.

     Stephen then drove back down the mountain to our last vineyard, Terre da Vino.  This tour was quick, but we could tell how massive this wine maker was--instead of the small cask barrels, there were huge metal ones.  Despite its broad appeal to the masses, Stephen found a wine that he really liked and we brought back a few bottles.

     The next day we drove an hour to Torino (Turin) and our first stop was at the Egyptian Museum in the city since it seems to be the largest attraction there!  It turned out to be much more interesting than I imagined with lots of artifacts, exposed mummies (of people and cats!), and an extensive collection of things from the tomb of Kha.

     After that, we walked to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and when we saw that there was no line, no entrance fee, and no security, we decided this could not be the church that holds the Shroud.  Yet, there it was.  A small group of people near the back of the church were looking at this large box, so we went over, looked, watched a short video about it, and left.

    In August, most Italians flee the cities and towns and head for the sea since August is a month-long vacation period for most businesses.  We took this opportunity to head to the country and the city, and it was quite nice!

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