Barolo, Truffles, and Local Characters: Alessandro’s Favorite Things in Piedmont 3
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Barolo, Truffles, and Local Characters: Alessandro’s Favorite Things in Piedmont

 

Alessandro Pini is a veteran Country Walkers guide. He’s been with us since 1999, making him uniquely qualified to tell us what makes our Piedmont Walking Adventure special. I recently sat down with him in Montecatini Terme, Italy after a brisk morning walk around the walled city of Lucca, and asked him just that. Here, he shares his thoughts about the country where he grew up, Italian wine, and his all-time favorite Italian dish.

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I hear that you’ve been with Country Walkers for 20 years and have been a guide on several of our tours in Northern Italy—are there any places that stand out for you?

I’ve been a guide on our tour in Piedmont from the very beginning, when we first started offering it. It’s one of my favorite places, and I love to share my knowledge of history with our guests. Piedmont is a region that is largely unknown—people aren’t aware of its rich history. From Italian kings to small town drama, every part of Piedmont has its own fascinating story.

Barolo, Truffles, and Local Characters: Alessandro’s Favorite Things in Piedmont 6
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It’s also known for its food and wine, right? Do you have any favorites from the region?

Of course! The wine here is incredible. My favorite is the most famous: Barolo. It’s one of the most important wines in Italy. On tour, we go to the town where it originates from. We get the chance to visit a winery which is 100 years old, one of the first to produce Barolo. It’s very small—not one of those wineries where hundreds of tourists crowd in, it’s just us.

My favorite dish is one that I grew up eating, my mother used to make it for me. It’s often misunderstood, you might think it’s strange!

 

Well, now you have to tell me! What’s the dish?

Vitello tonnato (veal with tuna). It’s a traditional dish from Piedmont that consists of a thin slice of veal with a tuna sauce, usually served cold. It’s something we always introduce to guests—so many of them are surprised by how much they like this unusual combination of flavors.

 

You’re right, that’s probably not something I would try on my own. I bet most of our guests wouldn’t have tried it without your recommendation either.

Yes, there are many wonderful surprises in Piedmont if you travel with an open mind! You’ll fall in love with the food, and you’ll meet wonderful people. On tour we also get to experience a truffle hunt and meet the forager and his dog. Plus, we visit a small-scale cheesemaker and his thirty sheep. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about our important food traditions on a personal level. Come visit to experience it for yourself!

 

Italy: Piedmont 2

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