Ciao from Italy!
Over the weekend I got to see some of the most picturesque Italian countryside imaginable. Located only forty-five minutes by bus outside of Torino our whole group traveled to a northern area of wine country called Piedmont. First we went to visit a medieval castle. It was the first castle I’ve ever visited, and while it wasn’t as large as many other castles in Italy, a lot of the original furniture was inside. There were decorative paintings on the ceiling from the 1400’s and the color and detail was all still in tact. I had to ask the woman giving a a guided tour of the castle whether or not it had been restored, but she replied with a think Italian accent that it was all “oreeginal.” Below is the exterior of the castle. It stood tall on a hill with a 360 degree view of the amazing countryside all around.
After visiting the castle we drove a very short distance, only a few minutes to a family owned winery. After all, Piedmont is a famously known for wine. We went to an authentic Italian home where the house, winery and store were all located on the same property to taste their products for ourselves. The matriarch of the family cooked for my entire group.
This means she made lunch for fifty people!
She was so pleased to feed us all, and we were all beyond pleased with her food!
Everything we ate was locally grown.
There was antipasti (appetizers) consisting of bread, a local cheese made with goat’s milk, and assorted jarred sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini, and other types of vegetables in olive oil all made and packaged by the family and sold with their wine.
For lunch we had fresh pasta in a meat and olive sauce sprinkled with fresh basil.
To accompany the food we first tried a white wine followed by a red.
Then we had a second red wine to follow the first.
The second red wine they brought out was called “Barolo.”
We then learned that this type of wine could be purchased for 14 euros (roughly 20 dollars) but sells for around $1000 in the US depending on the year it was made.
Of course our meal was followed by dessert where we had a plate of small baked goods.
Two different types of the dessert were native to Torino, and I had one of the best cookies I’ve ever had in my life.
It was an almond cookie with the most amazing texture garnished with a candied orange rind.
And of course there was a dessert wine to accompany our sweets.
It was white and bubbly and sweet, and quite possibly one of the most delicious things I have ever consumed.
This is a picture of the group of us taking up three extra long tables in a courtyard right outside the house of the family owned winery.
Above is the Barolo wine. Our bottle was from 2006, which is supposedly a great year for this particular winery.
To top off all of the food we were so graciously fed, the area we were in was unbelievable. Pictures cannot do it justice. We drove into a valley, therefore we were surrounded on all sides by rolling hills laden with villas (beautiful Italian houses) and sunflowers. If I only got to see one thing in Italy, I would have been content with that view.
Ahead of me is a full week of classes. I made the decision to take an Intro to Italian course so that I can learn the language, as almost no one here speaks any other language other than Italian. So far I have been learning a lot, but I still have so much more progress to make! In a few days we will travel to Lake Maggiore which is located near to Lake Como (where George Clooney famously owns a house.) I hear it’s supposed to be beautiful, so of course there are more pictures to come! Until then, I’m left to explore the city of Torino. Our school is located right next to the arena where the winter Olympics in 2006 held their ice skating. It’s fun to walk around and be face to face with the Olympic rings!
There is still so much more exploring left to do! Until my next post, ciao!