Pitstop in Piedmont

Posted by on Sep 17, 2013 in Featured, Italy | 7 comments

I LOVE ITALY. Simple as that. The people, the culture, the landscape, and, of course, the food. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a strong Italian family influence. Or maybe it’s because one of our most memorable vacations was a trip to Rome, Siena, Florence and Cinque Terre in 2010. Italy and everything Italian affects me. So I shouldn’t be surprised that a detour to Northern Italy’s wine region did the same. 

As we stepped onto our Alitalia plane in Bucharest destined for Milan, I immediately felt at home. For a split second I mistook a few passengers for aunts and uncles and had flashbacks to Christmases at my cousin’s house with the entire Pisco clan. In a couple of hours, I would feel at home in a second way. Two of our best friends from Boston, Shawna and Dan, would be meeting us in Milan. We had decided to spend a night in the Piedmont wine region before heading to another friend’s wedding in Portofino (thanks again to Ali and Zach Wyatt for getting married in paradise!). 

One of multiple stops for directions

One of multiple stops for directions

Shawna and Dan had done some nice research and found a perfect winery to spend the evening. What none of us did research on however, was how to get there. In this section of rural Italy, printed Mapquest directions can only take you so far. Once we exited the highway things got a little dicey. Road signs disappeared and ancient Italian towns were like labyrinths. But there couldn’t have been a better place to get lost. We drove through some great little neighborhoods and beautiful Italian countryside. In the end, we stopped to ask directions four times and were given the first of our two personal escorts (I approached two guys for directions in broken Italian and one of them proceeded to get into his car and take us 10 minutes to the correct road). Three hours later we finally reached our destination: Castello di Razzano in Alfiano Natta. 

Castello di Razzano

Vineyards at Castello di Razzano

After months of budget travel, this was our week to splurge and Castello di Razzano was a great way to kick it off. It’s stunning scenery is as picturesque as any other wine region we’ve visited. The architecture and old cellars made it feel like we were staying in a rustic castle. We sampled Razzano’s wine (the region is best known for their Barbera grape) in their very own tasting room and enjoyed the sunset overlooking the rolling vineyards. 

Man time with Dan - wine on the balcony

Mantime with Dan – wine on the balcony


Sunset at Castello di Razzano

Sunset at Castello di Razzano

Our one dinner in the area turned out to be as equally surprising as our journey earlier in the day. Disregarding the hotel’s vague suggested directions, we decided to follow my handy iPhone map this time around. While it did eventually get us to the right place, it neglected to warn us about some dirt roads through farms that caused some serious anxiety and I’m sure a few scrapes under the car (sorry Excelsior Palace Hotel – we were the classy ones rolling in for the wedding weekend the next day with muddy tires and a filthy front bumper). Once we finally reached our dinner destination we were shocked to find it was closed. After making our way back into another random town, I again asked a local man for a good place to “mangia”. He immediately hopped on his motorcycle and escorted us up a hill to point out a restaurant where we eventually ate dinner. Two personal escorts in one day epitomizes Italian hospitality. 

Offroading to dinner

Offroading to dinner


Shawna & Kat

Shawna & Kat

Even though Piedmont may not be as renowned, it definitely proves there is more to Italian wine country than the Brunellos and Chiantis of Tuscany. And seeing a new region reaffirmed my love of this country. Kat and I know Italy will be a place we’ll return to many times (hopefully to live someday!). And maybe we’ll keep forgetting to bring directions so we can find more hidden gems and have more interactions with great Italian people.


  1. Barf! Ok I’m just jealous.

  2. Sounds like fun Pally… I second Mrs. P, don’t forget about your 50% Irish blood 🙂

  3. Now my Irish back is up!!! As I have always said,”you are first Irish and then Italian second.” Just kidding. So happy your travels continue to be awesome.

  4. You guys have hit up your fair share of wineries on this trip 🙂

  5. Just why we bought our apartment, there is something about Italy and italians.

  6. to quote the jerk ( with one modification ) ” I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this blog every day! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity – your name in print – that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now. “

  7. Perfectly stated Mr. Pisco. Such a wonderful 24 hours!

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