Several years ago, before Travel Sister was ever conceived, I was charged with planning an autumn trip to Italy with a group of friends. None of us had ever visited Italia but we knew we did not want the typical noisy tourist spots with brash crowds and blurred visits to monuments. The idea of settling into a quieter place where we could truly “feel” the country, connect to its culture, and get to know the people sounded much more appealing. We were traveling at harvest so the sun drenched vineyards, villages, and cucinas of the Italian countryside beckoned. But where to go? Tuscany? Maybe. But we wanted something a little different still. An Italian friend recommended a region I had never heard of called Piemonte which I later discovered is the crown jewel of food and wine according to the Italians. Piemonte, specifically the Langhe Valley, is home to the famed white truffle, the coveted wines of Barolo and Barbaresco, exquisite produce, endless cheeses, and hundreds of pastas. It is also the birthplace of the Slow Food Movement - a 33-year old anti-fast food campaign that strives to promote local food and traditional regional cuisine. That was it. We were hooked.
We booked a stay in an authentic Italian agriturismo (farmhouse hotel) in a village near Asti owned by a charming English couple who was living the dream in Italy. They acted as tour guides, translators, and loving stewards of our experience. Together we shopped the markets, studied Piemontese cooking creating dishes like Vitello Tonnato (veal with tuna sauce), fried stuffed zucchini flowers, and rabbit stew with gnocchi. We spent languid afternoons strolling nearby vineyards chatting with locals as they harvested their grapes. Each night we gathered around a large community table chatting and laughing it up with other international guests; savoring our meal as we drank wine from huge unmarked dark bottles tasting the grapes from which the elixir originated.
The memory of this deeply meaningful trip has stayed with me for years and I now believe became the vision and and mission behind Travel Sister. I am thrilled to be returning to Piemonte this September and hope to recreate the magic of this very special place.
Travel Sister will explore Piemonte and Lake Como September 17-25 and then head to Venice September 25-28. See www.travelsister.world for more details