A Gorgeous Day in Barolo, Piedmont (and Where to Eat)

Barolo is an aspiration, in every way. I want to drink the wine, all the time. The Barolo, the Arneis, the Barbera and the Chardonnay. I had wanted to visit there for a while, who wouldn’t want to go to the epicentre of Barolo production, home to truffles in summer & winter, the food must be good too, right? 

Getting to Barolo (when already there) is a mission, when on foot, at least. I could not believe my eyes when faced with a sneaky hill seemingly hidden behind of and leading into this pretty town. I was in denial at this point, you see.

But, it was worth it.

I spent the bulk of my day there, choosing to walk early in the morning to Barolo from the top of that hill where Castiglione Falletto is perched. That hill. That vicious one. It was a gorgeous walk, through vineyards, by a stream, under boughs of elder tress laden with enthusiastic overarching elderberries. It seemed as though they were playing in the sun. It was hot, and so I paused by a fountain and in a moment of sweet release, poured a bottle of water over my head. Finally a use for long thick hair in that heatwave, soak it and let it cool you down. 

It was hot, I walked from tree to tree, stopping for some shade each time, up the hill to the arch through which you walk (or drive), to reach Barolo. One of the nicest towns in Piedmont (and they are all pretty gorgeous) Barolo is well set up to cater for tourists, there are wine tastings everywhere, lots of shops selling local food and wine, a wine museum and a corkscrew museum, and plenty of places to eat. Yet, it doesn’t feel in any way tatty, as some tourist towns can be. It is elegant, and refined, and in general tastes really good. I had planned two lunches, an early and a late one, just you know, so we know where is best to go? I did this for you, and for me. Oh yeah, I did, really, you know I did. Don’t look at me like that.

I started with Barolo & Friends, a trendy modern affair, and the first place I spotted when I turned into Barolo after that wretch of a hill. A glass of Barolo to start, some very good veal crudo (a veal tartare essentially), with summer truffle on top, a whisper of what is to come with the white truffles in the Autumn. Then some pasta, some plin ravioli filled with three kinds of meat, very good too. The good thing about Barolo & Friends is that it is open all day, which is rare in this part of the world. It can be difficult to eat outside of meal times in Italy.

As charming as it is, I would suggest that if you are in Barolo for just one meal head up the road a little to the wonderful Rosso Barolo. I am so glad I decided to have a late lunch here, just at the end of service. I loved everything about it, the room, the service, the lovely wines by the glass and the food. It was my perfect kind of lunch, I just had my book for company, and all the time I needed to enjoy it all.

I started with vietello tonnato, sliced veal with tuna mayonnaise, particular to the region. I think this is the best version of that dish that I have ever had. I struggled to finish the large portion, and at one point raised my eyes from my book to see that the lady of the house had her eyes level with my unfinished dish, at which point she looked directly at me, intensely, she tutted, in a slightly stern but funny way, and then she walked away. I finished it. For primi, I had a wonderful tajarin with fresh summer truffles, tajarin is a local fine pasta noodle, and it was handmade, of course. And that was all I could eat. 

I proceeded back down the street and sat on a bench in the shade next to two local ladies gossiping intently about everyone who walked past, saying hello and then passing comment as soon as they were gone. I allowed the sun to go down a little, and then I proceeded on my walk from Barolo to Monfort d’Alba. This was my my favourite walk of the week through the vineyard terraces out of and above Barolo, affording the most gorgeous views of that prettiest of Piedmont towns.

My Gastronomic Walking Tour of Barolo was sponsored as part of a #30activedays project, a partnership between Captivate Digital Media and Headwater Holidays to celebrate 30 years of  activity holidays by Headwater Holidays, including Gastronomic Walking and Cycling TripsI maintain full editorial control of the content published on this site, as always.

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Written by Niamh
Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.