People seldom write about the town of Barbaresco. It's the wine they celebrate.
Yet Barbaresco is a very compelling place to stay and spend a few days. There are wineries with tasting rooms right in town. In fact, you can stay in one. You can visit a church and yes, it's a tasting room, too.
Drive into the one-street town and you can't miss it, the former church of San Donato, built to give God thanks for the bounty of the hillside vineyards that they make a living from is now is a temple to the crushed fruits of those very efforts: the Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco.
Despite this spiritual extravagance, one thing you'll notice about the Langhe is that it's not a tourist trap. The people who make some of Italy's greatest wine consider themselves farmers, and act like farmers used to act. Not only do they traipse around town in the early morning in muddy boots, but they have a deep respect for the land and what it yields. I like being in such an atmosphere, and if you do, well, Barbaresco might be just the place for you.
There is no denying that the sea of vineyards, often peeking out of a morning fog, a vista punctuated by castles surrounded by little villages perched high on the hilltops, is one of the most awe-inspiring sights imaginable.
Lots of people hit Barbaresco on a day trip. But imagine sitting out on that terrace, sipping one of the world's greatest wines as the vineyards literally swirl around the little hills, the gurgling Tanaro river makes a bend just below you, the sun is setting spectacularly--and you don't have to drive home.
The map shows our recommended place to stay, Casa Boffa, whose fabulous terrace faces that bend in the river to the west. One of the two other villages that make up the Barbaresco DOC area is Neive, shown in the east on the map (the other is Treiso). The well-know and larger town of Alba, known for truffles, is to the southwest. Mango, which you can reach by passing through Neive (one of Italy's most beautiful villages), begins a new wine region, the "Colline del Moscato" and Mango's regional enoteca is in a castle.
The morning fog is kind to the vines of Barbaresco.
Casa Boffa is a wine country bargain. The vistas from its terrace are incredible. The breakfast is incredible. In evenings you can taste the estate's wines by the glass by just heading downstairs. You can buy a bottle to take out on the terrace (see picture below). You can walk outside for five minutes and get a fine dinner at any of the town's four fine restaurants.
And the hosts are friendly and helpful. The place ranks 9.7 out of ten by 133 people. That's extraordinary.
Casa Boffa doesn't try to wow you with old-world charm. It's well thought out Italian modern, the wifi works well, the beds are comfortable, and...it's not expensive as top-notch Piemonte lodging tends to be.
Casa Boffa is highly recommended by Martha and I. Yes, we've stayed there (if it isn't obvious) and they didn't pay us to do so.
For vacation houses in the Cuneo province (the province of Barbaresco) see: Cuneo Province Vacation Rentals from HomeAway.
As mentioned, Barbaresco has four restaurants. The most celebrated one is where we chose to eat: Ristorante Antine on Via Torino, 34/A. It is perhaps overly celebrated, though the food was good, the concentration on making "innovated twists" out of traditional Langhe chow seemed contrived to me, and the restaurant seemed to lack "soul" in its cooking. Lots of people love it, so don't give it a miss on my account. Wines by the glass were very good, the ambiance creates a formality and, on the night we visited, a rather spooky silence despite the restaurant being quite full.
Ristorante Antica Torre is another favorite.
If you're unfamiliar with Barbaresco, it's a wine made from Nebbiolo grapes grown in the DOCG Barbaresco district, where the clay soil is rich in limestone. Harvest can vary from late September to late October, usually a bit earlier than the Nebbiolo harvest in nearly Barolo district. It is known for flavors of dry flowers, violets, white truffles, and anise; in fact I've had one that was fragrant with fennel, a very interesting wine but not one as well known as Barolo.