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Going to Piemonte soon...

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Hi, Group,

I've traveled to Italy perhaps 20 times over the years, but this will by my first (very last moment, spontaneous) trip to Piemonte.I'm flying standby and hope to arrive on the 21st. I'll stay 2+ weeks.

I'd like to base in 2 places, max 3. Torino's carruggi remind me of Chiavari (OMG, the farinata at Luchin!) and some Tripadvisor posters write that Torino is quite nice.

I prefer villages over cities, like a pedestrianized centro storico and I'm crazy for truffles.

I'm traveling sola and have only driven in Italy drive with a co-pilot but I have the impression that driving in Piemonte, discounting wine consumption and heavy rains, will be a rather simple affair. Right? I'll bring GPS. Car is necessary? Is Bra-Asti-Alba-Turin similar to the Rome-Florence-Venice ho-hum itinerary?

A few question, please:

1. Base in Torino maybe 5 nights? One more town or village, or max 2 more in the 2 weeks on the ground. Is Alba too large/overrun? I understand that on festival weekends, Alba hotels will probably be sold out.
2. Assume a car in Piemonte is truly necessary?
3. Plan to go to the Alba truffle fair and smaller ones. Recommendations?
4. Accommodations: obviously, last moment, it'll be tough. I'm very flexible. Hope to find single rooms 100€ or less. Being in walking distance of where I dine and drink wine is preferable. I like villages with cafes, shops, walking, far more than rural areas.
5. Trattoria/osteria recommendations for a single person hoping to keep dinners under 50 euros including wine (not prestige/aged wines, obviously.) I love to cook, read about and shop for food, but have a limited appreciation of truly fine wines. Simple reds usually please me. It's much more about the food.
6. Kind service at a cafe, hotel or day tour that you can recommend?
7. Is my truffle hunt fantasy a silly tourist trap? (There's not much I'll get up before 8am to do but this.)

Also, I see there's a Eurochocolate festival in Perugia in October. Yum. Have any of you been? Worth it? But I don't want to circle back up tp Piemonte again before my flight back the first part of November. Ideas?

Grazie Mille!
Lana

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    1. To answer some of your questions:

      Alba is not too large or overrun. It is delightful, though the best restaurants are 20 minutes to 1/2 hour drive away. IMO, the best moderately priced place in Alba is La Libera.

      Yes, a car is the best bet. If you can still reserve, Hotel Langhe is a great place to stay, but is a 20 minute walk into central Alba, or 2 minutes by car.

      I'm sure you will have a great time whatever you do. This is a wonderful region.

      1. Is Bra-Asti-Alba-Turin similar to the Rome-Florence-Venice ho-hum itinerary?

        NOT AT ALL

        1. Base in Torino maybe 5 nights? One more town or village, or max 2 more in the 2 weeks on the ground. Is Alba too large/overrun? I understand that on festival weekends, Alba hotels will probably be sold out.

        5 nights should give you more then ample time to cover Turin, Alba is not big at all, but will be quite busy over weekends during truffle festival, but do you want to stay in a town after Turin, many small villages, B&B's agriturisimo in the central wine area - maybe 5 nights around Asti or Alba areas, and then the balance further out, maybe closer to the mountains, Mondovi or Pinerola, Lake Maggiore or even Val d'Aosta.

        2. Assume a car in Piemonte is truly necessary?

        Except for Turin, yes it is, train service is very limited, most wineries and restaurants mentioned on this forum will require a car.

        3. Plan to go to the Alba truffle fair and smaller ones. Recommendations?

        November is really the best time for white truffles, the Alba fair ends quite late this year in November, I would suggest Nizza Monferrato on the first weekend of November.

        4. Accommodations: obviously, last moment, it'll be tough. I'm very flexible. Hope to find single rooms 100€ or less. Being in walking distance of where I dine and drink wine is preferable. I like villages with cafes, shops, walking, far more than rural areas.

        Lots of small villages in the area with B&B's, maybe try around La Morra.

        5. Trattoria/osteria recommendations for a single person hoping to keep dinners under 50 euros including wine (not prestige/aged wines, obviously.) I love to cook, read about and shop for food, but have a limited appreciation of truly fine wines. Simple reds usually please me. It's much more about the food. 6. Kind service at a cafe, hotel or day tour that you can recommend?

        Check threads on this forum, although many postings are for fancier restaurants, Piedmont has many many small osterie and trattorie that will fit your requirements.Ask your lodgings for recommendations.

        7. Is my truffle hunt fantasy a silly tourist trap? (There's not much I'll get up before 8am to do but this.)

        It all depends on who you go with, some are touristy, some are not, all our guests love Casa del Trifalau, who take groups at civilized hours, although they can arrange a predawn hunt if you like.

        1. Thinking of more places to stay within walking distance of restaurants, you could try Bra, not a village, but a nice small town, birthplace of Slow Food movement, close to Alba and Langhe Barolese; Asti, which although is a medium size town has a better medieval centre than Alba. less touristy and with daily markets and very central, and a small town feel. Or if you want to get away from the Langhe area which will be in full tourist season in late October, try the Monferrato north of Asti, two small towns which are very attractive ar Moncalvo and Cocconato.

          1. my husband and i visited piemonte last fall and had an amazing time... i would suggest visiting La Torre in Cherasco... it was one of my most memorable meals and we met some locals at the next table who pointed us towards a small chocolate shop - cioccolato riccardi - nearby where they made the most amazing baci di cherasco... prices here were very reasonable... also da Bardon in San Marzano Oliveto... alba truffle fair was fun but was a bit touristy... lots of people though it never felt over-crowded... alba itself and the saturday farmers market was kind of cool to wander through... look for a bakery near the festival sites... i forget the street that it was on, but there was a mountain of hazelnut cakes (torta di nocciole) in the window... their cakes and focaccia were always fresh and delicious... bra had a really great farmers market - i think it's on wednesdays and fridays - where we loaded up on some awesome cheeses and snacks... my favorite town in the region was probably La Morra - some really beautiful hikes through vineyards around town and it has a lovely high point for sunsets... there's a restaurant called bovio a little outside the city that was really good, but a little more pricey from what i remember... i would definitely suggest renting a car - the charm of this region is really in being able to lose yourself the many small towns... we really wished we had more time to explore... since you mentioned truffles, be prepared to pay a hefty supplement in restaurants... if you find accommodations that include a kitchen, you can probably save a little by purchasing a whole truffle and making a simple feast with fresh pasta and cheese from the markets...