Almost 15 years ago, I spent a blissful summer roaming around Europe with my backpack, a Eurail pass and a jar of Nutella (which, as any budget traveler to Europe knows, is really all you need to survive for a couple of months). Unbelieveably, I skipped Italy completely, which is probably why I was so excited to finally experience it last week after visiting the London Wine Fair.
Our hosts were the incredibly gracious folks at Beni di Batasiolo in Piedmont, who put us up in their gorgeous guesthouse, right in the middle of some of the region’s most acclaimed vineyards. There are so many culinary delights (yes, including gelato) and delicious wines to discover that we had to do a lot of pedaling just to make room for it all. Fortunately, Piedmont is a great place for that, too. Its gently undulating hillsides are covered by miles of quiet, pristine backroads interrupted only by the occasional sleepy village, each complete with its own Disney-esque castle and church with bells that seem to ring at completely random hours.
Speaking of which, we also had the pleasure to spend a few days with friends in Switzerland, where it seems the “no cow left behind” act is in full force. Would you want to have one of THESE around your neck? Yes, they do make the verdant, poppy-covered hills seem alive with the Sound of Music, but even by bovine standards, these things are HUGE! Who knows though . . . maybe that’s what makes the cheese so good?