The owner of our hotel said that his city of 25,000 should be better known, and he was right, said David Stewart White in The Washington Post. Fossano, Italy, is “the perfect hub for a visit to Piedmont,” the region in northwestern Italy famous for stellar wines and marvelous food. A short drive east puts you in “wine heaven,” among the vineyards that produce Barolo, Barbera, and Barbaresco. A quick jaunt north puts you in Bra, the home of the slow-food movement. Whichever direction you choose to go, “a nearly 360-degree view of the Alps is always lurking,” and the day’s end returns you to an “ancient and atmospheric” town that tourists have yet to overrun. Our hotel? A converted 16th-century monastery that also houses Fossano’s best restaurant.
Our first day trip took us southeast to Valcasotto, a picturesque mountain hamlet now owned by one of Europe’s premier cheese-makers, Beppino Occelli. Samples of the local specialty came “with sides of history and cheese-making science,” and we devoured every scrap. The next day, we eagerly made wine our prey, venturing into the Langhe region for a guided wine tour that turned out to be “a sublimely relaxed experience.” Roaming oenophiles occasionally overrun some of Piedmont’s hill towns, but most of the vineyards we visited booked tours by appointment only, allowing us to converse casually with the winemakers while we savored each selection they chose to share.
Each day brought a new adventure. Fossano itself offered a maze of medieval streets lined with shops selling Milan-quality designer goods. Nearby Saluzzo held its annual music festival on the summer solstice, and we took the occasion to visit Castello della Manta, a castle that houses a “breathtaking” series of 15th-century frescoes. Everywhere we went, even the most modest bar served wonderful food, yet one place in the village of Serralunga d’Alba will go down as the most memorable. We ate a simple meal, accompanied by a bottle of the local dolcetto d’Alba. But we were sitting on a windswept terrace, relaxed as could be, and gazing out on “a 50-mile view of rolling vineyards and red-brick-fortified hill towns.”
At Fossano’s Palazzo Righini (palazzorighini.it), doubles start at $172.