Imagine foggy mornings sliding into filtered-sun afternoons—days that make you want to put on a sweater, grab a gnarled walking stick (a real one!) and saunter down a vineyard path. Perhaps a shaggy dog beside you would help set the mood. Perhaps you need your blood pressure to plunge towards the discouraging and deflated numbers given you by your doctor. I know a magical place.
The leaves left on the vines have bled to a brick-red of the kind you find on the surface of your Barolo as you tilt the glass against the light. The fallen leaves smell oddly enticing as they begin to rot. Across the way, over hill and dale, a dog barks.
You walk knowing that some of the world’s best cuisine and finest wines await you at the dinner table. In November it is truffle season; you can’t miss the perfume of the disturbed tubers as they wait for you to order something simple so they can unleash their perfume on the room as they are grated.
By the time the sun begins to set (early!) the moist air softens the light. The church isn’t an overdone cathedral, but a simple place of worship, pleasing to the eye.
The village stretches across the top of a ridge surrounded by vineyards planted with the Piemonte region’s finest: Nebbiolo, named after the early morning fog that feeds and protects the grapes destined to become the vaunted Barolo.
And there’s a castle. Not one of those defensive monstrosities, but something meant to aid looking over the sea of vines, its tall, round tours intended to emphasize the prestige of the Falletti family. It just happens to be one of the best preserved examples of noble castles of fourteenth century in Piedmont.
Perhaps you know this place, this wine town that seems the opposite of wine centers like the Napa Valley in the US. The vines are planted on the slopes. The grapes are noble, while the production of them is just considered back-breaking farm work.
But enough of the suspense. The town is Serralunga d’Alba and it’s in the heart of the Langhe Wine Region. If you wish—or need—to relax, wait until late fall when the tourists have gone home and the few diehard pleasure seekers who know the region make up the sum of foreigners in the zone.
Get your favorite sweater ready. You can whittle on a stick when you get there.