A Slow-Burning Revolution - Page 3

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Getting There
Alitalia, Continental, Delta, and United service Milan Malpensa international airport from New York's JFK and Newark airports, Washington Dulles, Chicago, and Boston. It's about two hours by car, train, or bus from Malpensa to downtown Turin. Turin's Caselle airport is serviced by hubs in the U.K, Spain, France, Germany, and other European countries.

Where to Stay
L'Albergo dell'Agenzia (+39.0172.458.600; www.albergoagenzia.it) in Pollenzo offers an atmospheric staging post for your Slow Food voyage of discovery. Comfortable, modern rooms are complemented by top-notch service and amenities including two restaurants, a bar, fitness center, and a small pool. Rates start at 155 euros and include continental breakfast.

Bra and Pollenzo lie about 30 miles south of Turin, and can be reached by car, bus, or local train; car-rental agencies including Avis, Hertz, and Europcar have offices in Turin. Visit www.piemontefeel.org for more on things to do and places to stay in the region.

Where to Eat
In Italy you can't go wrong by following your nose and appetite, but try these recommendations for assured gastronomic satisfaction:

Perched in a medieval citadel atop a hillside overlooking the rolling Langhe-Roero countryside, the Castello Santa Vittoria (+39.0172.478.147; www.santavittoria.org) mixes grandstand dining with authentic local flavors. Try the flavor-packed gnocchi or ravioli.

The Osteria del Paluch (+39.011.940.8750; www.ristorantepaluch.it) in the Baldissero Torinese, overlooking the industrial expanse of Turin, will bring you to your proverbial gastronomic knees. A set menu, while pricey, includes such regional delights as bagna cauda and agnolotti. An extensive wine list and homemade desserts round things out perfectly.

Things to See and Do
Beyond the many intriguing city delights in Turin, the hill country south of the city offers vineyards, medieval citadels, and charming market towns. Fontanafredda (+39.0173.626.111; www.fontanafredda.it) in the Langhe region is where many of the region's best wines are produced, incorporating famous Barolo grapes plucked right from surrounding vineyards. The 250-acre estate is the handiwork of Count Emanuele Guerrieri, son of the first king of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II, and was created for the count's colorful mistress, Comtessa Rosa di Mirafiori. Tour the grounds, learn the local history, and taste the wine that ties it all together. There's also a guesthouse here, plus conference and event facilities.

Northern Italy, and Piedmont in particular, has played an important strategic role spanning the empires of the Romans, Visigoths, Savoys, and eventually, the new Italian Republic. In addition, the region's valuable agricultural terrain meant local landowners and nobles went to great lengths to protect their assets, as evidenced by the string of castles and citadels that occupy every high perch of this rolling, fertile hill country. While many are still privately owned, several are open to the public, including the 14th-century Serralunga d'Alba. An ancient watchtower that looks out over a checkerboard of vineyards and red-roofed hamlets and villages, this defensive structure (unlike others, now decked out as swank residences) still shows traces of its former residents: graffiti from occupying Vandal troops, Gothic frescoes, an open-air latrine that somehow still smells, and soot marks from when soldiers were cooking up their own contributions to the Slow Food legacy.

For an immersive way to get to know this picturesque and historic region, ditch the car or tour bus in favor of two wheels. Butterfield & Robinson and Cycle Italy both offer packages; check out the vacation packages at: www.seeyouinpiemonte.com for a range of deals and options.

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