Slow Food: From Truffles to Tuscany
Our time in Piemonte (from “piede” (foot) + “monte” (mountain)) in northwest Italy will reveal why the locals have so jealously guarded the secrets of this region. Anyone know the origin of the names “Langhe and Roero”? We’ll discover not only their history, but also their softly rolling, vine-covered hills and rich traditions of wine and food. Highlights include:
- Alba, famous for its prized white truffle (we’ll taste truffle goodies in a mysterious cellar)
- A visit to the Slow Food headquarters and the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences
- Dinner at the very first Slow Food osteria
- A morning at a farm cooking with the locals
- An intro to cheese aging
- Culinary delights like local pastas topped with sauces of wild hare and boar
Wine enthusiasts will not be be disappointed, as Barolo, Barberesco, and Barbera wines all originated in this part of Piemonte and we’ll become experts in each variety. Our trek south to Tuscany on Day 5 will include a stop near Parma, for a peek at artisinal prosciutto production. The week ends with three nights in a 7-room villa nestled along a river in the middle of a Tuscan town. Days will be spent exploring charming Arezzo, the showcase for Piero della Francesca’s fabulous frescoes; the Pratomagno Mountain and its hidden jewel, the Val Tiburina; an unforgettable olive oil immersion; and
“EATING LOCAL, WITH THE LOCALS”!
Every two years, Slow Food and Terra Madre communities from around the world come together to share their innovative solutions and time-honored traditions for feeding the planet in a good, clean, and fair way. Delegates from over 130 countries are selected by Slow Food associations to represent the important work being done in various regions of the world. Held concurrently with the Terra Madre conference, Salone del Gusto is the world’s largest artisanal food marketplace. It is an important opportunity for many small-scale sustainable producers from the Slow Food and Terra Madre networks to showcase their products and practices. Together, Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto is a unique forum about the future of food and farming.
Day 1 (Monday) – Arrival in the Land of Slow Food
Independent arrival by train to our hotel in Bra’, home of the Slow Food movement. Cozy dinner of local specialties in town and orientation. D
Lodging for the next 4 nights: Hotel Ascheri
Day 2 (Tuesday) – Farms and Formaggio
Mornings start with a rich breakfast of fruit, yogurt, artisinal sweet and savory pastries and the local “salsiccia di Bra”. After breakfast we are off to an agriturismo (working farm that receives guests), where we will join a local chef in producing some Piemontese specialties that we’ll enjoy in a picturesque setting at lunchtime. Before returning home, we’ll stop at a cheese “affinatore” (ripener), where we’ll have an introduction to aging of the local cheeses as well as wine pairing. Dinner on your own in Bra’ this evening. B, L
Day 3 (Wednesday) – The New WineMU and Tartufi (Truffles)!
Today is a heady combination of wine and truffles. We’ll start with a visit to a top producer of Barolo wine, the most famous in this region and one of Italy’s finest expressions of a “big red”. There will be discussion about the “old” vs. “new” style of making this incredible expression of the Piemonte terroir, so prepare yourself!
Next we’ll visit a museum like you’ve never imagined: the new “WineMU” in the hamlet of Barolo. Our guide will start us on the fifth floor of this castle museum, accompanying us on a sensory journey through the history of wine. The architect splendidly portrays the intimate relationship between man and the vine, merging old and new in a completely innovative way. Then off to the Langhe’s main town, Alba, for lunch on your own. We end with a visit to the top truffle store in Piemonte. Here we’ll learn about and taste truffle products, with time afterward for a stroll in the enchanting historical center. Return to Bra’ in late afternoon, with a lovely dinner at our hotel to top off the day. B, D
Day 4 (Thursday) – Slow Food Day
Morning visit to the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences in the town of Pollenzo, followed by a visit to a Slow Food Presidium for visit and light lunch. Back to the hotel in time to pack for our departure tomorrow and relax. Early evening finds us at the headquarters of Slow Food in Bra’, accompanied by a local who will answer all our questions about how the movement started, what it’s accomplished, and where it’s going. Our final dinner in Piemonte is at Boccon Divino, which opened in 1984 as the very first Slow Food “osteria” in the world! B, light lunch, D
Day 5 (Friday) – From Piedmont to Tuscany
Early departure for Tuscany! After leaving the rolling Piemonte hills, we’ll enter the most famous region (gastronomically speaking!) of Italy: Emilia Romagna. Here we’ll visit an artisinal prosciuttificcio near Parma for an explanation of the production of this delicacy and tasting lunch. Continue south through the beautiful Tuscan landscape for an early evening arrival in the medieval town of Loro Ciuffenna. Settle into our serene seven-bedroom villa on the banks of the Ciuffenna River, before dinner, where local foods and wines are paired at a lovely local restaurant. B,L,D
Lodging for the next 3 nights: Dimora Casa Eugenia
Day 6 (Saturday) – Arezzo & Vino
We are awakened each day by the softly lapping waters of the Ciuffenna River and Eugenia’s scrumptious continental breakfast (the specialty: homemade cakes!). Early morning transfer and guided visit of Arezzo. Considered to be one of the original 12 Etruscan towns, Arezzo was featured in Benigni’s stunning film Life is Beautiful. It was also birthplace to the scholar and poet Petrarch. We’ll discover the Cathedral and the gorgeous Piero della Francesca frescoes at the Church of San Francesco, as well as the Vasari Museum. Giorgio Vasari was an artist and architect, and perhaps most famously, one of Italy’s first art critics. His home, now a museum, is richly decorated with frescoes. Free time to visit the outdoor market and grab some lunch in the early afternoon. Don’t forget the wonderful local artisan boutique. We end the afternoon with a visit and wine-tasting at one of the area’s top wineries, Tenuta Sette Ponte.
Late afternoon return to Loro Ciuffenna, and free night for dinner at one of several restaurants in town. B
Day 7 – (Sunday) – Val Tiberina (Tiber Valley)
Departure after breakfast for the Val Tiberina, where we’ll visit a relatively undiscovered corner of the province of Arezzo. A region of lovely hilltowns and open vistas, Val Tiberina was the birthplace of Piero della Francesca (whose frescoes we saw in Arezzo) and Michelangelo. We’ll walk through the town of San Sepolcro and visit its Aboca Museum, dedicated to the thousand-year history of the relationship between man and plants . We move on to Anghiari, another lovely medieval town between the Tiber and Arno Rivers. After free time for lunch and shopping, we’ll visit Busatti, where we can see traditional fabric production, with time to pick some gorgeous souvenirs.
Back to Dimora Casa Eugenia in time to pack for tomorrow’s departure. Weather permitting, our hosts will grill local specialties for us and dinner will be served on the lovely hotel terrace overlooking the Ciuffenna River. B, D
Day 8 (Monday) – All About EVOO and Arrivederci
After breakfast, travel to the hills just south of Florence for a visit to Studio Sagittario, where ex-pat Janet and her Tuscan husband Stefano make their incredible extra virgin olive oil. We’ll walk through their groves and learn about which olives thrive best in this part of Tuscany, focusing on how olive oil is made artisinally. Lunch at their home, made by Stefano, is a highlight. Transfer after lunch to Florence for optional post-tour stay. B, L
What is Slow Food?
The Slow Food movement has its roots in 1970s Bra’, the southern Piemonte town close to our lodging the first three nights of this tour. Working from Bra’, Carlo Petrini developed the phrase “good, clean and fair” to summarize the objectives of Slow Food: “good” refers to the taste and quality of food’s flavor; “clean” refers to sustainability of crops and preservation of the environment; and “fair” speaks to the issue of fair wages and social justice in the food industry. Slow Food is now over 80,000 members strong, with a presence in most of the major countries.
2012 is the year to make this journey. Every two years, Slow Food and Terra Madre communities from around the world come together to share their innovative solutions and time-honored traditions for feeding the planet in a good, clean, and fair way. Delegates from over 130 countries are selected by Slow Food associations to represent the important work being done in various regions of the world. Held concurrently with the Terra Madre conference, Salone del Gusto is the world’s largest artisanal food marketplace. It is an important opportunity for many small-scale sustainable producers from the Slow Food and Terra Madre networks to showcase their products and practices. Together, Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto is a unique forum about the future of food and farming. 2012 is the first time in history that both Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto are open to the public! The dates of the shows are October 25-29, and Slow Food members are eligible for half-price tickets! We’ve planned our trip to start Monday evening, October 29, giving Slow Food members plenty of time to enjoy the shows. Slow Food members will enjoy a 50% discount on ticket prices to this unforgettable combined event!
Pre-tour options in Turin for Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto combined event available upon request.