Close your eyes and take a long breath. Now dream, calmly, there’s no rush. The rolling contours of a valley—can you see it?—quilted with vineyards that shine of gold under the September sun. They sway in the breeze and call you. You lie in the shadows of the ripe clusters, which shimmer like rubies through a kaleidoscope. Now all you need is a glass of Barbaresco and a castle peeking in the distance through the clouds: its immutable presence is cheering, makes you feel light and floating in bliss.
Is this paradise? Much better than that, because it’s an experience you can enjoy in this very life. In that world apart that is Piedmont, cradle of the ferment that led to the unification of Italy.
Turin is one of Italy’s hundred beauties, a masterpiece of gastronomic Lust, the ideal city in which to lose oneself and walk without a destination, from Palazzo Madama to the Galleria Sabauda, from the Mole Antonelliana to the Egyptian Museum. Every neighborhood reveals a small universe: churches, theaters, historic cafés where the great thinkers used to gather, and where even today the ritual of coffee is kept alive. That, and the ritual of chocolate, declined in all its possible forms: gianduiotti, pralines with Barolo Chinato, truffles, hazelnut paste. The imagination of the masters of chocolate will be the only boundary to your curiosity.
What else do you ask of Piedmont? Think about it, and you’ll see it’s already there.
Castles, abbeys wedged between mountains, lakes that look like precious stones mounted on the Alps, ski runs, forests waiting to be explored, medieval villages, all of them framed by a watercolor landscape worthy of a divine hand.
Yet there’s one more object of metaphysical speculation that deserves your attention. It’s Nebbiolo, the king of grapes, from which you squeeze out Barolo and Barbaresco. You’ll get the same feeling from no other goblet: it’s not the sensuous pandemonium of a Pinot Noir, or the velvety charm of a Brunello, or the virile exuberance of a Cabernet. No: this is utter perfection.
It’s the scent of the earth, quivering with life; the underbrush and its berries, ripening in the shadows of thorny bushes; the wind-stricken leaves, covered with morning dew. In a single sip you’ll live the tale of Life. There is no better compliment one can pay a wine than to say that it’s the mirror and soul of its own land.