Tuscany and the Piedmont are two of Italy’s iconic regions—travel outside their bustling regional capitals of Florence and Turin and the landscape becomes the Italy of your imagination. There’s much in common here, including countryside that stretches as far as the horizon, fairy-tale towns, and world-famous farmland.
You’ll also find a common trait among the residents: humility. Whether you’re vacationing in the Langhe or Tuscany, the riches and sophistication are overshadowed by the modesty of families who have worked the land for generations. See tractors arduously toiling the soil as you meet gracious wine growers, truffle hunters, and noblemen whose roots here extend as deep as the storied vines.
Here’s where to go.
Explore the Val d’Orcia and see why this region of southern Tuscany was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. Begin in Montalcino, southern Tuscany’s renowned winemaking hilltop town, sampling elegantly aged Brunellos and their younger siblings, juicy Rossos. The surrounding scenery is equally intoxicating, with Insta-perfect rows of cypress trees and poetic single-track railway crossings.
Then head east to historic Montepulciano, where you can wander the manicured streets and centuries-old subterranean cellars. Stop by Enoliteca—the local consortium’s immaculately restored wine center, where a transparent glass floor reveals ancient Roman ruins—to choose from more than 100 Vino Nobile labels. And if you’re here on the last Sunday in August, don’t miss the Bravìo delle Botti, a grueling spectacle in which muscular men push heavy wine barrels up the cobblestone thoroughfares.
Keep exploring in the surrounding area, where you’ll find villages turned luxury resorts, design-led farmhouse restorations, and contemporary spas in the towns of Chianciano Terme and Bagno Vignoni. Try culinary traditions like hand-rolled pici pasta, truffles from San Giovanni d’Asso, and pecorino cheese from Pienza. Shop for ceramics, mosaics, and leather goods to bring a piece of Tuscany home with you.
Langhe Monferrato Roero
This region of northwest Italy—a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2014—has long been a mecca for oenophiles, featuring family-run and flagship wineries like Banca del Vino in Pollenzo, near Bra, where selected labels age in optimal conditions. Tour inspiring sights like the maze-like cathedral cellars in Canelli and check out the impressive Grinzane Cavour castle, once home to Italy’s first prime minister and the venue of the first regional wine center, established in 1967.
Fine dining is a way of life here; explore the region’s 20 Michelin-starred restaurants and traditional trattorias, which serve everything from just-unearthed truffles to freshly picked hazelnuts and tajarin egg pasta. Thankfully, the scenic hillsides provide a natural gym: start the morning biking to winsome Barbaresco before scaling the medieval tower; jog through rows of Nebbiolo vines along the well-marked trails; and stride the steep streets of Monforte d’Alba and Barolo as the golden hour bathes the age-old alleyways.
The towns of Alba and Asti boast extraordinary monuments, museums, and cathedrals, as well as sublime shopping for local specialties. (Mark your calendars for Alba’s International White Truffle Fair, held in October and November every year.) Converted monasteries, majestic castles, and boutique hotels comprise the upscale accommodation offerings. You’ll also find top-notch wellness facilities—hot springs carved into natural rock, terrace-top pools overlooking an infinite patchwork of vineyards, and side-by-side massage tables set in a panoramic turret.