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Piedmont - When to go

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letahaa Mar 2, 2013 10:05 AM

I am just starting to look into a trip to Piedmont for 2014. One of my co-workers goes every year and says we must go in late October/early November. We mostly go on our big vacation in late May/early June when most kids are still in school, but the days are long and the weather is usually pretty decent. But I'm willing to go later in the year if late fall is really the time to go. I do love truffles, so I see the appeal, but we are not the type of people that tend to spend $400 on dinner every night, so I'm not sure what the prices of dishes with truffles are and whether we would get enough out of moving our travel days to make it worth going when the days are shorter and its colder and more likely to rain. Don't get me wrong, we're happy to spend money on a great meal, especially on vacation, but I know myself well enough to know that we won't want to do so every night. We also love smaller, family run restaurants rather than the more formal ones, so I'm not sure if that makes a difference in terms of what the costs will be for dinners. Any advice you could give would be great! thanks!

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    allende RE: letahaa Mar 2, 2013 10:29 AM

    Piemonte is great any time, except the summer when it is really really hot. Late October/early November is wonderful if truffles are what you're looking for. However, as you pointed out, the weather can be bleak. By the way, you do not have to spend $ 400 on dinner every night, even with truffles. There are any number of excellent smaller family run trattorie/ristorante that are moderate in price: see prior posts e.g. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/768883

    But should you go in Novermber/December, for a relatively fair supplement, you can get truffles shaved over pasta, risotto, or sunny-side eggs (the best!). You do not have to spend a fortune, unless you want an entire truffle dinner, which we think is foolishness. Piemonte has some of the most interesting food, and is certainly the area we think has the greatest number of great trattorias/restaurants, in all of Italy.

    Our favorite time to go is May... the vineyards are in bloom,the warmth of the spring is felt and the tourists are few in number. You can walk in the vineyards (the barolo vineyards beneath La Mora are a great place for walking). Just a great time to be there; no truffles of course, but that is no big deal.

    Hope this helps.

    1 Reply
    1. re: allende
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      DavidT RE: allende Mar 2, 2013 05:27 PM

      Going to Piemonte in the fall during white truffle season is certainly a "bucket list" experience. However, as noted above, you are not required to have truffles with every course of every meal or even any course of any meal. Piemonte is full of moderately priced restaurants and trattorias.

      If you go to the upper right-hand corner of this page and do searches for Piemonte, Alba, Asti, etc., you will find a good number of past threads with helpful recommendations.

      Whenever you go, be sure to spend at least at day in Torino (Turin). There is plenty to see and do and eat there!

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      Peter Rodgers RE: letahaa Mar 2, 2013 10:33 AM

      The fall -- late September through early November -- is ideal, because that time frame will allow you to sample Piemonte's extraordinary white truffles and because it is harvest time in the vineyards. That said, given truffle prices, the likelihood is that you will sample the truffles only occasionally and in the fall, you will encounter other tourists in fairly large numbers (which is a rarity outside of truffle season). Another good option would be April through early June, when the seasonal produce is at its best. Even the winter can be very beautiful.

      Be sure to search this Board for restaurant suggestions. Those who post regularly concerning food in Piemonte really know their stuff and will lead you to a host of wonderful, small, family-owned restaurants.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Peter Rodgers
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        cambridgedoctpr RE: Peter Rodgers Mar 2, 2013 10:53 AM

        i have not traveled to Piedmont, but I know that the fall is tourist season so it might be better to go in the Spring. Piedmont is hot during the summer.

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        Ray2 RE: letahaa Mar 2, 2013 07:09 PM

        Late fall. Wonderful truffles, porcini's and game. Superb cooking. A great experience the two times we've done it.

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          RWD RE: letahaa Mar 3, 2013 02:44 PM

          Allende is correct - go any time (except mid-July to Labor Day). Don't worry about truffles yet; get to know the region and you'll be coming back! The Piemonte threads will provide lots of fabulous dining ideas.

          1. Agriverdita RE: letahaa Oct 4, 2013 12:30 PM

            I wouldn't change the date just for the truffles. In may there are a lot of wine festivities (like "Nizza รจ Barbera" in Nizza Monferrato mid may) and those are very nice too.

            1. Villasampaguita RE: letahaa Oct 6, 2013 08:16 AM

              May and June are popular times to visit Piedmont, late spring and early summer, it only gets hot in July and August, and never as hot as Central and Southern Italy. And its the time of many wine festivals. OK no white truffles, these are an autumn phenomenon, the later in the year the better, however we do find black truffles in summer in Piedmont. And I don't know of any restaurants around here where you would need to spend $400, (I might be able to find some if I looked) - most of the small trattorie and osterie that Piedmont is famous for would be in the 25-35 euro range for fixed menu without wine of course. If you want to splurge on older Barolos your bill could escalate, but very good Barbera's are in the 10-15 euro range.

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                mrozeboom8 RE: letahaa Jan 8, 2014 08:00 PM

                I know this is a little late, but I just stumbled across this post. We went to Piedmont two years ago in mid October and it was a great time to go, but it was a little too early for truffles. We are also planning another trip this year for the same time. The vineyards are beautiful and the weather was great...I don't think we had one rainy day. If you are a wine geek this would be a great time to go. It is after harvest, typically, so you can visit some of the excellent vineyards. As for restaurants, there are a lot of great smaller family run restaurants. The smaller restaurants were our favorites as well, and I have some of the ones that stood out listed. One of our favorites was in Serralunga called Centro Storico. We ate there three times on our week trip. It is a husband and wife team, he has the front of the house and she is the chef. The food was well priced, we spent around 80-100 euro for dinner and a bottle of wine. Lunch was great as well, and a bit cheaper. If you go in October/November you will also be in porcini season. For the experience, there is a great little restaurant in Roddino called Osteria da Gemma which was filled with locals. You have about 11 courses of home cooked Italian food so be prepared. In Castiglione Falletto there is a fantastic little place called La Terrazza da Renza. You pretty much eat what they are serving and they do not accept credit cards so make sure you have enough cash. We had one of our best meals there. In Barolo, we ate at La Cantinetta which was good, but not our most memorable meal. If you go there you have to try the ravioli with the egg topped with shaved truffles. We are looking to one really nice meal at Piazza Duomo in Alba. This would be a more expensive meal, but I hear it is worth it for a special night out. Finally, if you make it up to Barbaresco we loved our meal at Trattoria Antica Torre which is right across the street from Produttori del Barbaresco. One of the dishes was the classic tagliatelle con tartufo. Enjoy...hope you have a great time!

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