A Postcard from Piedmont, Italy: Walking Hilltop Towns, Hazelnut Groves, Truffles, Wine & Pasta

I was in Italy this past week to walk it. Yes, I was walking in the country that is shaped like a boot. Specifically, Piedmont in the North, and its UNESCO protected vineyard terraces, castles and gorgeous hilltop towns and villages. 

This was quite the workout, ensuring that I earned every bite of pasta that I ate. And there was a lot to eat. And yeah, I did. Of course, I did! Italy is one of my favourite countries for food and I love the culinary education that I get with every visit. This wasn’t my first trip to Piedmont but I still discovered new pasta shapes and sauces, each enthusiastic forkful fired my brain and filled my head with ideas and plans for kitchen adventures. 

I love slow travel, I wish that I could do it more often. Walking, boats, trains, time by myself where I can tune out and just be. Time to get to know the place that I am visiting and soak it all in, at pace. Piedmont is perfect for this. Piedmont is rich, green and undulating, dotted with small towns and villages perched on hills. All surrounded by stunning UNESCO protected vineyard terraces which weave through woods, hazelnut groves and the occasional cheerful field of enthusiastic sunflowers. If feels like it has stopped in time.

My walking tour was self guided, I did it on my own, and it was a joy. Walks were planned in detail with comprehensive instructions and maps, but there was plenty of time for leisurely lunches and there was lots of time snatched to read in the shade of trees and hazelnut groves, especially in the hottest part of the day. I love solo travel and I have so enjoyed wandering the vineyard terraces and admiring the beautiful views with nothing but my head to contend with. Headspace! The joy of it. I recommend it. 

While ambling there are a few things to consider. I was on my own and occasionally saw a farmer or a cyclist, once a guy riding a horse through the vineyards, but very occasionally I was on a road. Few people remember that Italy is home to the worlds fastest moving panda, a Fiat Panda, and you must look out for them as they zip around the corners, but honestly I think I was only on a road for 5% of the time. To the point where after a day wandering vineyards, hazelnut groves and woods, I started to notice just how loud cars are. Really loud! 

Lots more to come on the gorgeous towns of Piedmont including Grinzane Cavour with its UNESCO protected castle which I visited on the day of its annual fiesta; sleepy gorgeous Castiglione Falletto perched on the top of my most challenging hill; Barolo, perhaps the most beautiful, with that wine, and my favourite walk of the week; Monforte d’Alba, the most characterful and lively;  and Benevello, where I started and finished my trip.

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.



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