Have you ever had a nemesis? Something that makes you want to swear and shout, a thing that you think that you can’t beat but you still try, something that makes you want to throw your arms in the air and fall down and not think of getting up again for a while? Maybe just stay there, you know, forever. Was it ever a vineyard on a hill?
Yeah. I am deadly serious.
One day of my recent trek from town to town in Piedmont, my last kilometre or so was up a hill. It looked bad as I walked down the hill before to get there. I say a walk, more of a slow deliberate trot through woods and vineyards, winding and meandering and looking at that hill with Castiglione Falletto perched on top.
I had my book, my saving grace, and every now and then when the heatwave became too much, or the hill started to defeat me, I would stop in the shade of a hazelnut grove or a vine, crouched low, avoiding any spot of sun, and remove my head from the situation for 10 minutes, immersing myself instead in the West of Ireland at Christmas time via Anne Enright’s The Green Road. I could almost feel the cold.
You shouldn’t think badly of Castiglione Falletto, of course, even though it is the villain of this piece. It is a hilltop Piedmontese town of less than a 1000 people, all seemingly perfectly harmless and lovely, ensconced on top. When I arrived, triumphant, I was shattered but I felt good. I could see that it was a pretty little place with a bar perched over the hill, a favourite stop for weary walkers, and just beyond that the main piazza with the Locanda del Centro, and next to that a shop selling all sorts of things, staffed by a sleeping elderly lady with her shoes kicked off. Castiglione Falletto is charming.
For dinner I went and raised a glass to the hill, overlooking it. I may have been a bit gloaty (just in my head). Maybe more than one glass of wine, I had beaten it, I had triumphed after all. I had more than earned it.
I spent my evening at Ristorante L’Argaj which has a terrace overlooking those fateful vineyard terraces beneath. Sun setting, wine in hand, and my book that gave me the illusion of the cold, I had lightly fried courgette flowers, not stuffed but stiff and proud in their batter, and all the better for it.
Lasagnetta with buffalo mozzarella and courgette was a light small flavourful lasagne crisp with cheese on top.
How could I resist the milk fed suckling pig to finish? I couldn’t and it was very good served with pink lady apples and fennel.
After all of that walking I still had room for dessert – this rarely happens, I always prioritise savoury – and had ripe peaches (which I had been looking at longingly on the trees as I walked), lightly oven roasted with chocolate gelato and almond sauce.
And with that, back to bed, and to sleep, for the next morning, I was walking to Barolo.
In Castiglione Falletto, I stayed at Hotel Le Torri. 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 Trips. I maintain full editorial control of the content published on this site, as always.