[Posted 5:29 PM by James Panero]
Ciao! It’s that time again. The end of The New Criterion publishing season. This year I’m off to Piedmont in northern Italy on my honeymoon. Look for travel reports in the space from time to time.
My wife Dara and I have have taken nearly a year since getting hitched to plan the trip. We’ve solicited some excellent advice. TNC’s own Marco Grassi, who is an Old-Master restorer, helped with our itinerary. Tom Matthews, the executive editor Wine Specatator magazine, has put us in contact with the director of one of the most famous cooperative wineries in the world, Produttori del Barbaresco. (Dara is a writer and editor with an interest in food culture--she starts as an editor at Commentary when we get back. I bring art, architecture, and wine to the mix.)
Why here? Because Piedmont—the city of Turin, and the wine region of Asti-Alba—has often been overlooked in favor of the foods of Emilia-Romana and sights of Tuscany. But there is renewed interest in this region. The Slow Food movement began in Piedmont, and the area now attracts foodies and agro-tourists. Piedmont features what I believe to be the best regional cuisine in Italy (specializing in white truffles, in stews, veal, and offal, and in hazelnut chocolate). Once the seat of power for the House of Savoy, Turin also boasts some of the best examples of baroque architecture in the world (Guarino Guarini and Filippo Juvarra worked here as court architects). Finally, there is the wine. Barolo and Barbaresco, the king and queen of Nebbiolo, are produced in the Langhe of Piedmont, as are the better Barberas and Moscatos.
We start in Milan, then Turin, then we stay for a week in the wine region of Asti-Alba, where we have dinner plans at some noted regional restaurants (Guido’s, LaLibera, Antine, I Bologna). We finish off outside Piedmont—first at a rustic inn on Lago D’Iseo, then with a stop-over in Venice for the start of the Biennale before flying home from Milan.
Finally, in a couple weeks, look for my own report on the Venice Biennale. I will be reporting from Venice for The Wall Street Journal.