Outdoor activities in the land of Barolo
There are dozens of outdoor activities in the land of Barolo. Individual ways to experience the vineyard landscape of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato that has recently been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Looking out over the hilltops in Piedmont’s winemaking district is a majestic experience. The combed and polka-dotted hillsides are carefully cultivated with wine and hazelnut bushes. Ancient castles, working farms and romantic villages preside over the area. And in the distance you glimpse a reflection of the winding river Tanaro and the snow capped Alps. The aesthetic qualities of this landscape are exceptional and too grand to be experienced through the front screen of a car.
Besides, the culinary pleasures of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato make exercise welcome (and necessary). Here are our suggestions of highly enjoyable outdoor activities in the land of Barolo for all seasons.
Hiking in Italy can be a challenge unless you are accompanied by a guide, who has followed the trail before, or a reliable gps-based app. But over the last few years, local tourist authorities have marked an impressive number of footpaths, ring trails and trails in and around the land of Barolo, which means you can plan your hikes after distance, difficulty and interest, as there are wine routes, cheese routes, truffle routes and routes with a historical or literary theme.
Signposts along the trail point you in the right direction, and painted red and white markings on trees and stones help to keep you on track. In other words, you can relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery.
We tried the winery hike from Monforte d’Alba to Barolo. A 5 km walk through the most spectacular vineyard landscapes with nice cultural and culinary stops along the way. The truffle trail in the dark forest of Serradenari. And a trail leading from the tiny village Bergolo through wild pastures and woods to a Romanesque church. Unfortunately, we did not have time for the highly enticing Bar-to-Bar trail from Barbaresco to Barolo with winery tastings along the way, but I’m sure we’ll get there one day.
For longer distances bikes provide an ideal mode of transportation, and sport cyclists will love the constant challenge of undulating hills. For those of us too vain to make sightseeing stops in a sweaty, tight fitting lycra, electric bicycles offer a fitting alternative. Itaway Langhe rent e-bikes for a week, a day or the afternoon, and they will pick up the bikes once you have reached you destination.
If you are an experienced cyclist, ebikes take some getting used to. Especially the brakes that make a full stop instead of just taking the top of the speed. The speed can be regulated only with the gearing, but you’ll soon get the hang of it, and the silent electric motor provides a good push uphill. Fitness freaks can always turn off the motor, when it is not needed.
With bicycles you can go from village to village and stop for the night at charming, undiscovered places with grand views. A lot of the winemakers and dairy farms in the area have a few rooms to let, such as the organic cheese makers Amaltea in Alta Langa or the dolcetto winery and Agriturismo La Cantina outside Farigliano.
Among the many outdoor activities we enjoyed in the land of Barolo is also donkey riding – or rather trekking with donkeys – from Cascina Raflazz (another nice agriturismo) near Paroldo to the home of our guide Roberta Ferraris and back again. The donkeys are useful for carrying food and gear on longer hikes, and children would love the odd ride when they get too tired to walk.
Roberta Ferraris is part of a team of trekking guides known as Cammini who arrange walking tours that stretches over several days all year round. They do pilgrim routes such as Via Francigena and numerous other interesting tours through all parts of Italy.
There are more outdoor activities in the land of Barolo than hiking, biking and walking with donkeys. You can find golf clubs, canoes, hot air balloons and places to fish and hunt within the area. And for those interested in winter sports the eternal snow of the high Alps can be reached in a couple of hours by car. And after all that exercise you truly deserve the gourmet dinner with fine wines that always ends a day in Piedmont.