The Piemontese Alps, with the beautiful Val d’Aosta and the Gran Paradiso National Park, are close at hand to the north, and many famous Italian, French and Swiss ski-resorts are within easy reach.
The charm of the region is carried by its gently rolling hills, tiny hilltop villages and broad fertile landscape of vineyards and fruit orchards. A network of mostly small roads connects these old villages and towns with each other. Traffic congestion is unknown in this part of the world.
The climate is mediterranean and mild – the Italian Riviera is only 30 miles away. The winters are short, and night temperatures in January and February only occasionally fall below zero. Spring and autumn are long and warm. The summers are hot and dry, although the hilltops are ventilated by a pleasant sea breeze.
The original Celtic population of the region were already growing wine in the region 3500 years ago. They are traditionally hard-working, proud, and in tune with the finer pleasures of life. They are friendly, open and helpful – without being intrusive. The vineyards have usually been profitable for their owners, so that the social dislocation caused by emigration to the cities has not been a problem here as it has been in other regions of Italy – the crime rate is correspondingly well below the national average. The locally spoken dialect is an old French Patois – the “Langue d’Oc”. The history of southern Piemonte has been closely linked with France – you find here many similarities in architecture, language and culture.
The region has a wonderful cuisine to accompany its famous wines. The white truffles, “tartuffi”, are world-renowned. In October you can sample them in almost any restaurant or trattoria, especially in the Langhe region, centered around the medieval town of Alba (right), which lies 26 Km to the south-west of Asti.
Fortunately, the packaged tourism industry has failed to discover this well-kept secret. Native Italians, on the other hand, have always loved this region and many have vacation properties here.