The Slow Food Fast Track
Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we dine: Slow Travel is alive and kicking in Piemonte.
Not everyone knows that the Slow Food movement was born in the small Piemontese town of Bra, back in 1986. It was founded by Italian food journalist Carlo Petrini in protest against the opening of the first McDonald’s in Italy (on the Spanish Steps, in Rome). From its humble origins, the Slow movement has grown into a major social and even political force, its values and aesthetics absorbed into the mainstream. Partly for this reason, much of the Italian countryside today remains delightfully immune to so-called ‘progress’. This is good news for gourmet travellers. It means you can see Italy the Slow Food way: by enthusiastically eating and drinking your way from one sustainable food feast or old-school wine-producer to the next. By soaking up age-old gastronomic traditions—and losing yourself in seductively charming Italian landscapes in the process.
This is particularly the case in Piemonte, a region still largely ignored by mainstream tourism despite the success of the Turin Winter Olympics in 2006. Piemonte’s cuisine reflects its geography: the food combines the best of northern Italy with select elements of southern France. It’s a match made in gastronomic heaven. The Alta Langa area south of Turin produces an amazing variety of cheeses (sheep’s, goat’s, cow’s milk and infinite combinations thereof). It grows the best hazelnuts—the key ingredient in those delicious gianduiotti chocolates. Beef from Fossano has achieved near-cult status. And the Piemontese are fiercely proud of their local pastas: agnolotti (handmade little squashed ravioli, pinched shut and stuffed with beef, pork and rabbit) and tajarin (even thinner than tagliatelle). Lastly, lest I forget: Piemonte just happens to be the world capital of white truffles, as well as the cradle of big-hitting Barolo—considered by many to be the finest Italian red wine of all.
This exceptional overabundance of regional specialties and grassroots culinary excellence makes Piemonte a prime destination for foodies, wine-aficionados and Slow Travellers of all stripes. And for walkers—what could be more pleasant than strolling through Barolo vineyards, across hillsides and over ridges, past 16th-century Savoy castles and fortified towns, and onwards in search of your well-deserved next meal? Thankfully, Piemonte has a stellar array of restaurants only too happy to oblige—and some of the most charming and elegant country hotels in Italy to boot.
After a few days in Piemonte you’ll no doubt be chanting the Slow Food mantra: “A truffle a day keeps McDonalds at bay.”
Rudston Steward is Trufflepig’s new trip planner dealing in everything Italian. If you’re looking to slow down and get in touch with the Piedmonte countryside for a while, get in touch.