Because of its location, Greeks, Romans, Normans, Turks, Spanish and French have all spent time in Puglia leaving great monuments and traditions. We travel from emperor Frederick’s medieval Castle del Monte in the north to Lecce, the most Baroque city in Italy and discover architectural jewels like Monopoli and Martina Franca. Ancient farmhouses along the Adriatic sea, “masserie” have been converted into Luxury resorts. Puglia has one 1,000 hours more sunlight than the rest of Italy and the wines are full bodied and rich. Sea culture along the Adriatic grew a cuisine inspired by the sea and sea culture. Here are immense wineries belonging to aristocratic families, dating back to the land grants of the 16th century when Spain occupied Puglia. Local varieties like Primitivo and Sussumaniello imported from Dalmatia in the 7th century are the strength of Apulia, one of the great un-discovered food and wine heavens.
Umbria has been untouched by large-scale tourism. Etruscans and Romans made wine in this fertile region 2,500 years ago. Innumerable artists have lived here enriching its piazzas with architectural jewels and frescoed its churches and palaces with dazzling masterpieces. Food ingredients and preparation have remained traditional. Since ancient times there have been 3 wine routes: we travel the Cantico route from Perugia to Todi, then South on the Etruscan-Roman route around Orvieto and the Sagrantino router in the Montefalco area. The wines are from vines indigenous to Umbria like Sagrantino and Grechetto. Olive oil, lamb, durum wheat pasta and lentils are protected by IGP. Unsalted bread, “casereccio”, is still baked in wooden ovens. This is “essential” cooking where everything is balanced beautifully and all the flavors are brought out to sing together with their wines to a perfect pitch, in one of the most magical settings in the world.
Langhe is a small area in Piedmont and the wine and food capital of the region. When the French-Italian House of Savoy moved their capital to Turin in the 1500’s waves of royals built castles here, but the farmers cultivating these lands created their dishes. The cuisine is aristocratic and simple at the same time. Barolo and Barbaresco, only grown here are made from the Nebbiolo grape and are the most important wines of Piedmont and maybe Italy. Sixty-seven percent of all Nebbiolo cultivated in the world is grown in Langhe Nebbiolo’s early varieties go back to the 13th century. We start in Alba, a medieval city and the black truffle capital of the world, and go on a truffle hunt. Then travel through designated Barbaresco towns like Neive and Barolo townships like Barolo and La Morra tasting wines and local specialties and basking in the history. The quirky Langhe spirit even produced a Museum of Corkscrews not to be missed. Avant-garde winemakers have built futuristic wineries in 17th century villages and have commissioned world-class artist like Saul Lewitt to decorate old churches in the vineyards. From Wineries and restaurants housed in medieval castles to restaurants with Michelin stars and boutiue hotels hidden in the vineyards Langhe is a gentle jolt to the senses and the intellect.