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Piemonte: Explore, Restore

Picture vibrant cities, cheese caves, vineyards, medieval villages- that’s the essence of Italy’s Piemonte region. While Milan’s fashion forward attitude, stunning Duomo, and world class shopping are certainly a draw, the auto Strada can transport you from busy city to verdant vistas in a snap.

Buongiorno, Turin! Just over an hour from Milan by rail or car, Italy’s first capital is a feast of architectural and savory surprises, with distinguished porticos, bistro lined palazzos, yummy gelaterias. Settling into comfortably stunning surroundings, it’s a breeze to fall into la dolce far niente– the sweetness of doing nothing.

A passionate sports entrenchment, Turin’s many storefronts feature futbol jerseys countrywide, but local loyalties are accorded Torino, the longstanding darling with heartbreaking history. The entire 1949 team perished when their plane crashed into a hilltop church overlooking the city. From anguish came a global outpouring of deep affection. Small wonder why the 2006 Olympics were awarded. It’s also home to the world’s first Egyptian museum which houses over 55,000 artifacts (Cairo opened 26 years later). As is the case with charming Italian cities, just walking about is an exhilarating foray into this vibrant city’s smart shops and luscious cafes.

After conquering antiquities, Duomo (Shroud of Turin), designer shopping, noshing through fresh air bistrots enjoying savory fresh pasta, exceptional wines, and Michelin rated cuisine, we left a steamy city behind and headed for the lakes region.

First stop, cheese caves, where we descended into the climate controlled cellars of ageing provolones, parmesanos, and reggianos. Naturally, best part is tasting them! Our lunch charcuterie was a divine feast of insanely delicious cheeses, cured meats, fruits and ambrosial wine.

Buongiorno, Lago Maggiore ~ a visual feast of snow frosted mountains framing zig zaggy shorelines (above), dotted with islands, including Isola Bella, hosting lovely inns and popular restaurants. Boats for hire are reasonably priced, easily accessible for a sun splashed ride.

A mere 15 minute drive away, Lago D’Orta is a quieter, inviting lakeside village of floral splendor. Cobbled streets lined with shops and cafes spill into the quaint waterfront square.

The shining jewel of this day trip: Vercelli, home of rice production for risotto. While modern farm equipment has improved harvesting, learning how this back breaking work was historically done manually by legions of women invoked awe and empathy. Leaving the

expansive watery fields of grain, a Vercelli style lunch feast of Russian salad, ham, and tuna awaited us, served in an ambient outdoor cafe near the town square.

Wondering about wine? The abundance and diversity of Piemonte wines is globally savored. Driving to multiple vineyards in the Langhe region, we sampled reds, whites, sparkling, and dessert varietals. I wanted to take them all home. Almost did. I settled for a small shipment from Marrone Vineyards with 3 well wrapped bottles in a checked bag. So much grapey ground to cover. Next time.

Published by eileentravel

Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain inspires, Journeys Afar delivers. Collaborating with clients, I customize trips to create enriched destination experiences shaped by personal interests and preferences, such as soft adventure, ocean and river cruising, food and wine, history/architecture, and family gatherings. My trip bliss includes writing about and sharing personal adventures ~ which sometimes includes unexpected detours. Life is short, the world is wide, let's go!

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