- Tour Alba's historic city center and underground tunnels
- Go hunting for truffles with trained dogs in the Piedmont countryside
- Experience Turin's street food scene
- Enjoy a full day of wine tasting in medieval towns in Piedmont
|Day 1||Arrive in Milan, Transfer to Turin||Turin|
|Day 2||Turin Walking Tour||Turin|
|Day 3||Visit Sacra di San Michele Abbey||Turin|
|Day 4||Turin to Piedmont Countryside||Barolo|
|Day 5||Barolo and Barbaresco Winery Tour||Barolo|
|Day 6||Piedmont Countryside to Alba, Walking Tour||Alba|
|Day 7||Truffle Hunting from Alba||Alba|
|Day 8||Goodbye Italy|
Day 1: Arrive in Milan, Transfer to Turin
Welcome to Italy! From one of Milan's international airports, you'll be taking a train ride west to Torino, known as Turin to the English-speaking world. The journey is around 2.5 hours from the airport, usually changing at Milano Porta Garibaldi station. The capital of the Piedmont region, Turin is known for its elaborate architecture and excellent local cuisine. The train station where you'll be arriving is centrally located, so you can quickly check in to your hotel and familiarize yourself with your surroundings.
Take a walk to a city square—both Piazza Castello and Piazza San Carlo are good options—for coffee and a delicious baked sweet treat to reinvigorate you after your travels. The following activities are all excellent ways to spend your next several hours.
- Visit the interactive National Cinema Museum, housed in a 19th-century Jewish Synagogue.
- Wander through Turin's old town and Europe's largest open-air market, Porta Palazzo. The Piedmont region is famed for its truffles, cheeses, and meats- sample and purchase many mouthwatering examples of these here.
- Cross the river over the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I bridge to the Santa Maria del Monte dei Cappuccini church. The walk is uphill but not steep, and you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the entire city after the climb.
To experience excellent examples of regional cuisine, head to the riverside area near the Piazza Vittoria Veneto for a delicious meal.
Day 2: Turin Walking Tour
After breakfast, you'll resume exploring Turin, a city famous for its sophisticated and historic architecture, shaded gardens, libraries, museums, and theaters. It's one of Italy's most fascinating cities, named in the New York Times "52 Places to Visit" in 2016.
Spend the day exploring the city on a walking tour. After meeting your guide, you'll start in the heart of the city at the iconic Piazza Castello and visit the Royal Palace, one of the city's most distinctive buildings. The Palace was the main symbol of the Savoy house when the capital moved from Chambery to Turin, and the greatest artists of the time were commissioned to create this Baroque masterpiece. Visit the ornate galleries and library, stroll through the gardens and the Royal Armory, and see the adjacent Cathedral that houses the Holy Shroud.
The entirety of the Piazza Castello was designed in concert to give the buildings a cohesive style. One of the buildings hides a great architectural treasure, the San Lorenzo Church. This baroque, octagonal building contains beautiful inner chapels and a soaring cupola with eight windows bathing the interior in sunlight.
Afterward, visit the Turin Egyptian Museum, the world’s oldest museum dedicated to ancient Egyptian culture and artifacts, with your guide. When the tour finishes, enjoy a coffee at a historic cafe nearby. Turin's cafes are legendary, with a long history as meeting places for artists, writers, and political refugees. Aristocracy, poets, bella gente, opera composers, and other lovers of the arts also sought out these cafes for their cozy atmosphere. Try the local drink, bicerin—a decadent mix of drinking chocolate, coffee, and whipped milk or cream.
In your free time, immerse yourself in Italian culture and buy your lunch from a local street food vendor. You'll see many Italians standing around eating sandwiches and catching up on their lunch breaks. We recommend spending your afternoon at one of these places of interest:
- Head to the Parco del Valentino for a late afternoon stroll through the sprawling medieval riverside park and check out the replica medieval village.
- Stop by the Parco Archeologico Torri Palatine to see the Palatine Towers, the world's best-preserved Roman city walls from the 1st century.
In the evening, you'll find many restaurants in the Quadrilatero market district serving great regional specialties for dinner. Feel free to ask your guide for a local recommendation.
Day 3: Visit Sacra di San Michele Abbey
A short drive from Turin is Sacra di San Michele, an ancient Romanesque monastery surrounded by the snowcapped peaks of the Alps. Sacra di San Michele is one of the most recognizable symbols of the Piedmont region and is considered one of Europe's leading examples of Romanesque architecture.
The monastery dates back to the late 10th century, when it was built in dedication to the cult of Archangel Michele, the defender of the Christian people. The monastery is strategically located on a pilgrimage route that runs from Saint-Michel in France to Monte Sant'Angelo in Puglia.
Your introduction to the monastery is via the 243 steps that lead to the Doorway of the Zodiac and the entrance to the building. From here, the surrounding panorama of the snowy Alps is well worth the climb. From the entrance, continue up the wide 12th-century stone staircase to the church, passing by an 18-meter-tall (59 feet) pillar that supports the church above it. One of the niches on the staircase was used to display skeletons of several of the monastery's monks, lending the staircase its name: Great Staircase of the Dead.
The perimeter wall of these ruins ends in a tower which overhangs the precipice of the mountain. This structure, the Tower of the Beautiful Alda, gets its name from the tragic legend of Alda, a local peasant girl. After coming to the monastery to pray, she was cornered by enemy soldiers and trapped atop the tower. To escape certain death, she threw herself into the ravine while invoking the help of St. Michael and the Virgin, and miraculously survived the fall. Thrilled by her survival and with a hunger for financial gain, she imagined herself able to make a second jump and offered to repeat her flight for unbelieving villagers. She leapt to her death at the scene of her former miracle.
Return to Turin and spend the afternoon exploring on your own. One of the city's main attractions is the National Museum of Cinema, one of Turin's architectural landmarks. The building was designed as a synagogue, before being purchased by the Municipality of Turin and turned into a monument of national unity. Explore the unique exhibits and creative educational activities, then head to the rooftop terrace for panoramic views of the city and surrounding Alps.
Alternatively, if you still have some energy left after your tour, walk across the river over the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I bridge to the Santa Maria del Monte dei Cappuccini church. The walk is uphill but not steep, and you'll have panoramic views across the entire city of Turin.
Later, enjoy a quiet evening in the San Salvario neighborhood with drinks at a local wine bar or piazza cafe, and dinner at a family-run trattoria in the same area.
Day 4: Turin to Piedmont Countryside
Leave the big city behind today for the tranquility of the Piedmont countryside. After breakfast, check out and transfer to one of the small hilltop towns within this area. The most well-known is Barolo, but also close by are the equally charming La Morra and Monforte d’Alba. There are a couple of transportation options from Turin: you can take the train to Alba (1.5 hours) or Bra (1 hour) and then a private transfer or a local taxi to your hotel. Alternatively, you can rent a car for this part of your trip (1-hour drive from Turin) and have the freedom to explore the Langhe wine region. Check into your accommodation and get familiar with your home for the next few days.
The Piedmont region is at the heart of the Italian food and wine industry. It has become a paradise for travelers looking to experience rural Italy by staying in small villages and seeing the production at farms and vineyards. Local people have opened their doors to international visitors so they can share their passion and knowledge with the world. However, they won't spill all their secrets to you as many of their products have protected status and can only be produced in this area under a certain name. You'll notice meats, cheeses, and wines labeled DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) and DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).
No matter which village you are staying in, we recommend having a leisurely day taking in the views and a slower, more rural pace of life:
- In Barolo, visit the Castello Falletti with a small museum inside and the Enoteca Regionale del Barolo (a large collection of Barolo wines where you can taste and purchase your favorites).
- Monforte d’Alba has a few historic monuments to visit including the Palazzo Scarampi, with an ancient amphitheater, and the 17th-century church of Sant’Agostino and San Bonifacio.
- La Morra is a larger village with a square, Piazza Castello, in the center, which has great views over the vineyards. You can also visit the Church of San Sebastiano, climb the baroque style Torre Campanaria di La Morra (the tower of La Morra), and see the Church of San Martino at the top of the village.
It's not hard to find a great wine bar and restaurant in the Piedmont countryside. Try an antipasti that looks enticing, followed by a simple pasta dish of meat and cheese such as Tajarin or Agnolotti Piemontesi. The area is also known for growing risotto rice so you will see Panissa, a red borlotti beans risotto, served locally. Absorb the views and relax as the sun sets over the hills.
Day 5: Barolo and Barbaresco Winery Tour
The Langhe hills roll through Piedmont with medieval towns, vineyards, and castles overlooking the valleys below. This region is famous for producing excellent food and wine. In 2014, Langhe, Monferrato and Roero were made UNESCO World Heritage Sites to protect the natural landscape and their traditional methods of winemaking. Full-bodied Barolo and Barbaresco red wines are the most well-known varieties hailing from this area, but there are also many others such as Barbera and Dolcetto. Today, you'll drive through luscious Langhe hills to discover and taste what local winemakers are proudly producing here, while learning about the significance of the geographical area.
With your guide, you will visit several small, family-owned wineries throughout the day and sample their wines, to enjoy as well as compare and contrast the flavors. Take a tour through the wineries and cellars, where wines are aged in oak barrels. The wine tastings are complemented by local charcuterie, cheeses, and bread. In the afternoon, stop for lunch and visit some hilltop villages and towns. In Barolo, you will have the opportunity to visit a unique wine museum. The final visit is to the ancient Grinzane Castle, which was restored in 1967. Inside the castle is a large showroom (and salesroom) of the best regional wines. Taste a Moscato or Grappa dessert wine- if you didn't already buy a bottle at a winery this is the last chance to take one home.
As the tour ends, you'll return to your hotel and get ready for a hilltop sunset over the vineyards. Find a cozy wine bar or trattoria for dinner close to where you're staying. Relax and enjoy the smell of home cooking in this rural setting.
Day 6: Piedmont Countryside to Alba, Walking Tour
Pack your bags and check out of your accommodation- you will be moving on to the city of Alba today, around 13 miles away or a 30-minute drive. Alba is in the UNESCO protected Langhe region and is most well-known as the "White Truffle Capital of the World". Between September and January is peak truffle hunting season, and people travel from across the world to the annual festival in October. You'll find no shortage of Michelin-starred restaurants here- it has the highest concentration in Italy. Alba is a great city with activities to suit all tastes and interests.
After checking in to your new hotel, explore the city center with a local guide to see how Alba's buildings, from Roman origins to modern construction, have been built on top of each other. During Roman times, the powerful city was known as Alba Pompeia. After the fall of the empire, citizens continued to build atop the former city. Head underground to see Alba's many architectural formations. At the center is a 12th-century cathedral, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, built on top of an old Roman temple- what you see now is mostly from the Gothic period. Close by is the Church of San Domenico (no longer a place of worship), where visitors can take a look at the frescos and exhibitions.
In the Piazza del Duomo, you can see many towers that offer amazing views across the city and dominate the skyline. At one point, Alba had hundreds of towers, but only a few have been very well preserved. It is possible to climb to the top of the Sineo, Bonino, and Artesiano towers. Allow your guide to navigate through the narrow Old Town streets as you walk along Via Cavour to Piazza Risorgimento. Don't forget to look up at the beautiful architectural structures all around you!
After your tour ends, enjoy a relaxed afternoon of shopping or extend your underground adventure, walking in the footsteps of Romans on one of the archaeological paths. For dinner, head to Piazza Savona to find a wine bar or osteria with outdoor seating, nice ambiance, and great food.
Day 7: Truffle Hunting from Alba
Today, you will experience the art of truffle hunting on a tour of Piedmont's countryside. Italian truffles are some of the most sought-after culinary ingredients and are a well-loved feature of Mediterranean cuisine. Often served shaved over pasta, they add a distinctive and earthy flavor that is irresistible.
Start your day in Alba and head out on a search for white truffles, some of the world's rarest and most expensive foods, growing wild in the heart of Piedmont. When you get to the forest, you'll be guided by your expert truffle hunter (known as Trifulau in the local dialect) and his trusty four-legged companion, the Tabui or truffle dog. You'll learn all about the origins and importance of harvesting white truffles from your expert guide. When your hunt is complete, you purchase what you've bagged at a great price, and take them to a local gourmet restaurant. There, the chef will grate, slice or shave your truffles onto the dish of your choice. After spending the morning hunting for the rare truffles, you'll enjoy this expertly crafted meal as a picnic lunch complete with other regional delicacies and local wine.
In the afternoon, you'll return to Alba and have time to explore at your own leisure. We'd recommend the following activities:
- Visit the Civic Museum of Archaeology and Natural Sciences (called "Federico Eusebio"), to look at Roman and prehistoric collections discovered in the local area
- Enjoy a leisurely afternoon hopping between cafés, shops, and gelaterias. Sample some sweet treats such as "Bunet” (a rich chocolate pudding) or “Gianduja” (pastries or cakes made using hazelnut spread).
Later, head out for the evening around Piazza Duomo. Enjoy drinks at a local wine bar, and dinner at a restaurant on one of the small side streets off the main square.
Day 8: Goodbye Italy
Your journey in Italy will end after breakfast, with a transfer to the airport to catch your flight home or to your next destination. Arrivederci!