|[Piazza, Agliano Terme, Piedmont]|
Italy continues to fascinate us and each time I return I find the pull to visit the bel paese only getting stronger. Whenever we are fortunate enough to travel across the border, I spend a lot of time thinking about just what it is that makes Italy so special. Surely we have the food, wine, and history to draw us in and keep us coming back. And there's always a new mystery to unravel in each unexplored region. The opportunity to look deeper, for example, at those dazzling Romans with their amphitheaters, grand monuments, and grander ambitions. And what of Tuscany with it's few hundred years that changed the face of art & architecture? Then we'd be forgetting Umbria, with its beautiful hilltop towns, incredible vistas & equally formidable cuisine. In Italy, there always seems to be a "more".
|[Festival announcements, Agliano Terme]|
And then there's Piedmonte. More to learn, more to discover, and more world-class gastronomy packed into this relatively small corner of the world than seems humanly possible. Throughout our one-week tour of the region, I felt thoroughly (albeit happily) overwhelmed. Of course there were the wines. Too many to list and too many to really get more than a heady overview of. We sampled Barberas from Asti, Monferrato, Agliano Terme and from a sprinkling of villages in between. Meals found us opening with spumantes and finishing with desserts served with splashs of Moscato (which almost made me overlook how good the homemade peach gelato was...almost).
There was the half-day trip to Barolo where we managed to get in a little tasting but still really only scratched the surface of this great wine. We ate way beyond our budget, happened upon tours of local sheep-cheese producers and hazelnut farmers, and, after tasting the difference between a cheese aged for two, four, or eight days, I felt a bit depressed that I had ever shopped at a supermarket.
|[The hills & grapes of Piedmont]|
|[Street scene & Vespa in Asti, Italy]|
So while I'm dreaming of my next trip, I've got over 900 photos snapped in Piedmont to remind me of why we keep coming back to this enigmatic, complex, but forever beautiful country. That, and the ten bottles of wine we hauled over the border, might just help me get through the waiting until the next rendezvous with fair Italia.
|[Barolos in waiting, Piedmont]|