Piedmont and Cinque Terre Trails: Wine and Walking, from Barolo to Portofinooffered by supplier M08242 (read about supplier)
Tour Duration: 7 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 14 people
Specialty Categories: Hiking & Trekking Food & Wine
Season: May - September
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 3695 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 3695 US Dollar (USD)
This 7-day tour starts in the scenic Langhe, famous for its Barolo wine and white truffles. Morning hikes through the vineyards are followed by afternoon tastings at top boutique wineries. There’s also a day in the high Langhe, or Alte Langhe, where hazelnut groves and sheep farms dominate the landscape. We'll lunch at one of those cheese farms.
Then we move to Liguria, stopping en route in the white wine town of Gavi for a tasting.
Hikes on the Cinque Terre and the Portofino promontory offer spectacular views of fishing villages and azure seas from steep rocky cliffs. On the table is seafood and fresh-as-a-breeze Ligurian wine. Come enjoy the best of both worlds!
2018 dates: May 28–June 3 // September 2–8
Day 1 – Barolo's birthplace.
After a 10 a.m. pick-up at the Tortona train station (1 hour south of Milan), we shuttle to the Langhe hills (an hour’s drive). Our warm-up hike goes from Monforte to Barolo to Castiglione Falletto following the Barolo Wine Trail, which cuts through prized vineyards and chestnut groves. The hike is divided into two parts, each about an hour long, with a complementary welcome lunch in the middle.
Our lunch spot is a homey family-run restaurant in the village of Barolo. They’ll bring a parade of classic piemontese appetizers and primi to the table, including uova in pasta, paté with caramelized red onions, tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms, and bonet (chocolate–amarretti pudding).
We’ll hike some more after lunch (gotta burn those calories!), then return by van to the town of Barolo. Here we’ll pass by the Castle of Barolo, where we’ll hear the story of Barolo wine’s creation in the 1800s by a French-born Marchesa. Finally, we’ll tour her historic estate just 100 yards away—the Marchesi di Barolo—and have an intro to barbera, nebbiolo, and Barolo in both traditional and modernist styles. Dinner will be at a charming restaurant in the Langhe hills, where we might spot local winemakers.
Day 2 – La Morra Loop.
Today we'll pick up another part of the Barolo Wine Trail and do a loop hike from La Morra. We’ll walk through some of Barolo’s most famous vineyards, including Brunate and Cerequio, getting a close-up look at nebbiolo grapes (the basis for Barolo), as well as barbera and dolcetto, which make fruity wines found on every piemontese dinner table. We’ll pass by such local landmarks as the colorful Brunate Chapel (a Ceretto property) and the towering Lebanese cedar planted in 1856 by ancestors of the Cordero di Montezemolo winery.
After lunch in La Morra, we’ll shuttle to the nearby commune of Verduno for our afternoon tasting. We’ll visit Fratelli Alessandria, a boutique winery situated in the family’s 18th century house; their vineyards were likely sourced by King Carlo Alberto for the wine he made at the Verduno castle. Not only does F.lli Alessandria make stellar Barolos and Barberas; they’re also one of only 12 producers in the world who make Pelaverga, a light, spicy red indigenous to this village. One of the family members will pour them all and offer a comparison between Barolo cru in Verduno and Monforte. Dinner offers more of Piedmont’s refined cuisine, such as meat-stuffed agnolotti and beef braised in Barolo.
Day 3 – Mountain Cheese in the Alte Langhe.
Piedmont’s Alta Langha (“upper Langhe”) is renowned for its cheese. Here the elevation is too high for grapes, so hazelnut groves, pasture land, and chestnut woods dominate the rolling landscape. Today’s hike is point-to-point, crossing two valleys on the Tanaro trail; we'll follow the Via del Sale, the old salt road on which salt and other goods were transported inland from Liguria.
Afterwards, we’ll lunch at an artisan cheese farm near the town of Murazzano. Here we’ll have a tour, then sit down to a buffet of freshly made DOP cheese, salumi, and other regional treats, accompanied by the local Dolcetto di Dogliani wine. More wine follows at our afternoon tasting. We’ll shuttle to Monforte and the scenic hilltop estate of Fantino Conterno. Here we’ll taste award-winning single-vineyard Barolos, plus Barbera bottled according the cycles of the moon.
For dinner, we go to Alba, capital of red-wine country in Piedmont. Dinner is at a Slow Food–affiliate restaurant, where we might enjoy such gnocchi with melted cheese, roasted guinea fowl with rosemary, and panna cotta with fresh berries.
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Day 4 – Gavi di Gavi.
Today we transfer from Piedmont to the Riviera. En route, we'll stop in the white wine district of Gavi (1-hour drive). After a cappuccino and soft amaretti cookies at Bar Matteo (a favorite haunt of Dolce Vita cofounder Claudio Bisio during his teen years), we’ll climb up to the Fortress of Gavi. A truly impressive fort that kept adding layers of fortification as Genoa and Milan fought over this turf, it illustrates the cutting-edge military architecture of its day. We’ll scoot back down the hill for lunch at a trattoria frequented by local workers.
Then it’s time for a tasting of Gavi di Gavi, the first white wine of Italy to gain international fame. Our winery of choice is Villa Sparina, a preeminent leader in Gavi and one of Wine Spectator’s 10 “Italian Wineries to Watch” in 2008. Villa Sparina’s 4-star hotel has a patio overlooking the vineyards, which is one of the most pleasant settings for an al fresco tasting you’ll ever find.
We then continue our drive south to the Riviera town of Sestri Levante (1-1/4 hour), where we'll settle into our second hotel, a seaside spot overlooking the Bay of Silence. Dinner is on your own at one of Sestri Levante's many excellent fish restaurants.
Day 5 – Portofino.
In the Riviera, the landscape changes entirely. The Ligurian mountains tumble straight to the sea, with colorful houses and umbrella pines clinging to the hills. Today we'll climb those hills in a spectacular point-to-point hike, starting in the fishing village of Camogli and ending in Portofino. The first leg goes through town, ascending ancient steps that pass tiny houses and private walled gardens, arriving at the overlook of San Rocco. The next part takes us up through the woods to the rocky ridges on top of the promontory, where there are spectacular views at every turn. Then there’s a long descent to San Fruttuoso, a medieval abbey and tower of the Doria dynasty, located in a protected cove.
After lunch, we'll catch a 20-minute ferry to Portofino, a picturesque village where amorous movie stars once hid from paparazzi, where we'll soak up the sun, browse the shops, or catch a bite to eat. Then we take another short ferry to Santa Margherita and finally a train back to Sestri, arriving in the late afternoon.
Today's wine tasting will be on our hotel balcony overlooking the scenic bay, clanging boats, and setting sun. Here we'll have an introduction to Ligurian wine, spotlighting seafood-friendly Vermentino and its genetic twin Pigato. Dinner will feature the Riviera's fresh-from-the-sea cuisine, including a tender Mediterranean bass with tomatoes and herbed roasted potatoes.
Day 6 – The Cinque Terre.
At last! Our Cinque Terre hike. The fame of the Cinque Terre ("five lands") is well deserved, with its sweeping vistas and charming seaside villages. Now a national park, the Cinque Terre trail passes through five towns. We’ll take a train to our trailhead and hike through four, going from Vernazza to Riomaggiore, with an optional leg from Monterosso for the heartiest hikers. (If parts of the trail are still closed due to landslide, we'll hike the first two sections, Monterosso to Corniglia.)
The first two sections of the park trail go up and down mountain steps, past wild fragrant scrub and ancient terraces carved from the rock by monks and Ligurian tribes in order to cultivate olive trees and grapes. A handful of heroic wine producers continue the work the land, wrestling limited quantities of grapes from this vertical, rocky terrain. The third part is a broader cinder and stone trail that’s gently rolling, while the final is an easy sidewalk stretch known as Via dell’ Amore, or Lovers Lane.
We return by train, then again convene on our hotel balcony for a wine tasting before dinner, this time spotlighting such obscure regional reds as the herbaceous Rosesse di Dolceacqua. Our farewell dinner at a bayside restaurant offers excellent haute renditions of local cuisine.
Day 7 – Arrivederci!
A shuttle to the Sestri Levante train station and assistance with your travel plans. B
Supplemental Tour Information:
Starts in Tortona (near Milan), ends with a shuttle to the Tortona or Asti train station.
Tour Guide Credentials:
The tour-operator owners are your guide(s), one a native of Piedmont and the other an American wine writer.
10% discount for InfoHub customer. Request a free gift certificate.
Airfare is not included in the tour price.
- 6 nights accommodations (double room) in two 3-star hotels, with breakfast buffet
- 5 gourmet dinners (three courses with wine)
- 2 lunches
- All wine tastings mentioned
- $400 single-room supplement
- Air travel
- 1 dinner on your own & most lunches
- After-dinner drinks, or special wines at tastings that are not part of what is provided to the group
- Items of a personal nature
- Anything not specified as included
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Joined InfoHub: Apr 2000
Founded in 1999 our company is a leading pioneer in Italian wine tours. We’re a boutique tour operator, whose owners—a native Italian and an American wine journalist—personally lead most of the tours. These are small in size—minimum 2, maximum 12—so you’ll feel like you’re traveling with friends. Our...