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In this episode, we are heading to the north of Italy to the often-overlooked region of Piedmont, or Piemonte as it is known in Italian. This beautiful region, bordering France and Switzerland is best known for its wine, truffles, and royal connections.
In an episode sure to get your taste buds jumping, we talk to Olivia Windsor, who embarked on a solo adventure in 2019 and now calls Piedmont home. She shares her passion for all things Italian and her new home region of Piedmont – especially the food and the wine.
We explore the region’s cosmopolitan capital city of Turin (or Torino in Italian) which was historically Italy’s capital, and head into the countryside, full of vineyards, stunning towns, and villages and includes the magical Lake Orta.
What you’ll learn this episode
- The Mole Antonelliana, a tower in Turin, not only has magnificent city views, but also houses a cinema museum
- Porta Palazzo is a famous market in Turin’s Aurora district, which is the biggest open-air market in Europe
- Above Turin, the views are well worth the hike up to Monte dei Cappuccini or Superga (the church that watches over the city)
- Bicerin, a special chocolate drink, unique to Piedmont is best enjoyed at the glamorous Cafe al Bicerin
- As your day ends, head to Santa Giulia for fabulous for aperitivo or to San Salvario a vibrant neighbourhood, great for nightlife
- Sienna is not the only place to have a palio (where locals horse-race through the city), the charming town of Asti has it’s own too!
- ‘Baratuciat’ translates in the local dialect to cats balls, but don’t let that put you off this grape that makes a wonderful white wine from Piedmont, called Barat
- Not as famous as the other lakes but magical Lake Orta is a favorite of both Katy and Olivia and is only an hour and a half from Milan
- Sacra di San Michele is an abbey, up the top of a mountain in the heart of Piedmont, inspired the writer Umberto Eco to conceive the best-seller “Il nome della rosa” ( The name of the rose )
- The towns of La Mora and Alba and the tiny village of Monforte d’Alba are wonderful places to base yourself to enjoy the nearby wineries
Tips for exploring Piedmont
- Turin has fantastic public transport, but a car is the best way to explore the surrounding countryside, mountains and Lake Orta
- When planning to visit somewhere for the views, try to find a day when the weather is clear as it can get so overcast, you end up not see so much when you get up there
- Look out for all the local speciality foods – you may not find tortellini, but Tajarin (a thin, long pasta) and Agnolotti (a filled pasta) are what the locals eat here
- Always book in advance to visit a winery, unlike Australia or the US, they are not setup for drops in visits – but your visit will be all that more special because of it
About our guest – Olivia Windsor
Olivia is an Italophile who moved to Italy in May 2019 to indulge in her love for the land of la dolce vita, cooking, food & wine. What was meant to be just 12 months has quickly turned into a year and a half… and counting! She has explored the country south to north, working in agriturismi and organic wineries before settling in Turin, Piedmont for the last year after meeting a local Piemontese man. Olivia writes a blog called Livguine, named after her love for pasta and her nickname Liv and has just started offering virtual & in-person food, wine & travel experiences in Northern Italy.
Olivia is hosting Untold Italy Tours in both Piedmont and Puglia.
You can find Olivia on these channels:
- Website: livguine.com
- Instagram: @livguine
Places to visit mentioned in the show
- Torino/Turin, the capital – Porta Palazzo, Antique market in Balon, Palazzo Reale, Santa Giulia, Quadrilatero, San Salvario, Monte dei Cappucini, Superga
- Palace of Venaria – a former royal residence and gardens located in Venaria Reale, near Turin
- The Egyptian museum – huge collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts
- Pietro Micca Museum – for history buffs, commemorates Pietro Micca who saved the city from the French back in the day
- Balón Flea Market – behind Porta Palazzo is great for finding antiques and nick nacks
- Quadrilatero – the old part of Turin built by the Romans
- Monte dei Cappuccini – tower in the centre of Turin which you can climb for the views
- Asti – a mostly hilly territory lying at the heart of Piedmont and bordering Liguria in the south
- Cuneo – located at the foot of the Maritime Alps
- La Mora and Alba – charming towns, great to use as a base for Le Langhe wine region
- Monforte d’Alba – a tiny, rural village in a beautiful setting
- Sacra di San Michele – sometimes known as Saint Michael’s Abbey, it is a religious complex on Mount Pirchiriano
- Lago d’orta – beautiful Lake Orta in the foothills of the Alps, nestled among a dark green forest and rocky hills
- Cascina Luli – winery in the Monferrato region, in a stunning setting
- Bologna – a city in northern Italy famous for its architecture and food
Places to eat and drink in Turin
- Osteria Le Antiche Serre, Turin – outside the city centre – great local food and a lovely courtyard
- Enotecca Botz – amazing wine and drinks
- Farmacia del Cambio – former pharmacy offering unique aperitifs
- Vinolento – great drinks alongside the tasty food
- Cafe al Bicerin – for the local speciality hot chocolate drink
Piedmont wines to try
- Red – Monferrato, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Barbaresco, Dolcetto, Slarina, Grignolino
- White – Barat, Timorasso, Arneis
Piedmont dishes to try
- Vitello Tonnato, Battuta, Bollito, Bagna càuda and Fritto misto
- The pasta types of Tajarin and Agnolotti
- Academya Lingue – language school in Bologna
- Wwoof – living and working on local organic farms and home-stays all over the world
- Enoteca – a wine repository to try local wines
Resources from Untold Italy
- Read more in our Piedmont guide. Piedmont is one of the great locations in Italy for truffles – learn more in our Truffles in Italy guide and the region is also famous for wine – particularly the Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera varieties – see our Introduction to Italian wine
- Listen: to Olivia’s other episodes – Episode #105 Dishes to try in Piedmont and Episode #094 8 cheeses you need to try in Italy
- Driving in Italy – a guide to all aspects of car travel in Italy
- Join our exclusive Untold Italy Insiders to help plan your trips, come together with fellow travelers, to share travel finds and inspiration, and learn more about bella Italia!
- How to plan a trip to Italy – our article that takes you step by step through trip planning so you can plan an amazing trip full of memories you’ll cherish forever
- Italy Travel Planning – our FREE online community where you can ask questions and get inspiration for planning your trip
- Travel shop where you’ll find items mentioned in the show
Prefer to read along as you listen? You can download a PDF version of the full transcript of this episode.