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Piedmont: Italy’s New Food Capital

8 September 2015

Nestled amongst a stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Alps, the town of Cuneo is in possession of a delightful Old Quarter which is home to the charming Café Arione. This quaint café, first opened in 1923, is the creator of the delicious Cuneesi al Rhum, a regionally famous chocolate treat stuffed with a rum filling. The café has seen its fair share of famous patrons in its many years, including esteemed author Ernest Hemingway, for whom it was a favoured spot.

Piedmont is renowned as a fantastic producer of Italian wines. Many find their origins amongst the rolling vineyards of the Langhe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site brimming with verdant grape trees, quaint walled towns and traditional farmhouses. Within these hills is the village of Barolo, which, despite its small size, produces one of the finest and most expensive wines on the planet. Barolo has a rich history in wine production and which can be learnt about in the village's charming wine museum. The nearby fort, Castello di Grinzane, has an equally inspiring museum dedicated to wine and those in the region that produce the popular tipple, fair recognition for a region that has produced the likes of Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco blends aswell as the juicy Nebbiolo grape from which these blends are made from.

No trip to Piedmont would be complete without a stroll through one of the region's food markets, of which Cuneo has a fantastic example. A bustling hive of activity, Cuneo's food market is a heady buzz of scents and smells, from butter-fried frogs' legs and egg-rich ravioli to mature blue cheeses and soft-baked breads. A walk through the narrow alleyways of this traditional Italian town on market day is quite an experience.

The fabled city of Turin, regional capital of Piedmont, has its own wealth of gastronomic delights and expansive market selection to match its rich heritage and plethora of tourist attractions. Turin may conjure up images of the captivating Duomo and the world-famous Turin Shroud, but the city is also home to the delicate Bicerin drink. Delicious layers of coffee, drinking chocolate and milk, a Bicerin, meaning 'small glass' is the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing pause in a street-side café. Bicerin isn't the only chocolate creation to receive worldwide fame; the Gianduiotto is another of Turin's most popular exports. Small chocolates shaped like an upturned boat and individually wrapped, Gianduiotto are said to have been inspired by the Gianduja masks used in Piedmontese festivals. Perhaps the most famous chocolate export from this gastronomic city is hazelnut spread, with local company Ferrero's Nutella brand having gone on to become ubiquitous in the supermarkets of the western world.

Taste your way around Piedmont and its delicious wines, cheeses and chocolates on Great Rail Journeys' delightful Gastronomic Piedmont escorted rail holiday