Piedmont, Italy – Prologue
We think nothing of tackling the narrow cliff-side twisties along the French Riviera or criss-crossing the Autopista from Barcelona to San Sebastian and back, but it’s taken us a good ten years to even entertain the thought of driving in Italy. You see, I have nightmares about screaming Ferraris and whizzing Vespas running our underpowered rental off the road on a particularly sharp hairpin turn. The fact that most credit card companies refuse to insure car rentals in Italy only reinforces my phobia.
But, as they say, the best way to conquer your fear is to meet it head on. I figure, my husband’s gone through several Skip Barber driver’s ed courses. Surely, he’s well-versed in the art of defensive driving by now. Given this change in the risk reward profile, we plan a trip to Piedmont, Italy. In the spring. LOL.
Why Piedmont? Because I hear it has wonderful cuisine, one of Italy’s best in fact. Outside of food circles, it’s also relatively undiscovered as most tourists flock to the trifecta cities of Florence, Venice and Rome. In Manhattan, where there’s an Italian restaurant in almost every corner serving Tuscan, Roman or Sicilian fare, Piedmontese cuisine is still quite rare.
Why spring? Even though white truffles aren’t in season till the fall, I thought this might be a way to get a headstart on all the great trattorias, enotecas and ristorantes in the area. There will surely be another trip in the future because there is no way we’ll be able to cover them all in less than a week.
Logistically, this is one convoluted trip. There are no straight flights to Torino, the capital of Piedmont, and in keeping with the region’s theme of slow food, we opt for slow travel. Instead of driving two hours to Torino from Milan’s Malpensa Airport, we fly to Nice in the French Riviera and take a day to experience the scenic train ride through Ventimiglia, Cuneo and finally Torino. On the way back a week later, we return via Genoa and explore that city during the hour-and-a-half wait for our train back to Nice.
The next few posts will chronicle our forays into this region’s food (with maybe some sights thrown in) — local Nicoise specialties, traditional Piedmontese fare at Trattoria Marsupino, non-molecular but equally experimental dining at Combal Zero, slow food at Boccondivino, and a seasonal twist on tradition at All’ Enoteca.
Next: Nice, France