Some 25 years ago, I first visited Alba and the Langhe Hills on an educational visit to the wine regions of northern Italy. After a bit of a slog from the Cinque Terra, we arrived close to Alba and went immediately to Roddi for some lunch where we were joined by the son of the Gigi Rosso cantina. The lunch was delightful and very filling!
After lunch we went to his cellars to see the production facility and to taste the wines. Big, tannic offerings so typical of Barolo of the day. When the business was concluded, we were invited to the producer’s house where we sat in shirt sleeves in the March sunshine on top of one of the Langhe Hills, drinking in the view and playing cricket with an orange wrapped in gaffe tape and a barrel stave for use as a bat! After copious bottles of Moscato d’Asti – which was my first introduction to the wine and very enjoyable to boot – we got cleaned up and off we went for dinner to a restaurant close to Alba. 8 different dishes were served, all washed down with wine from Gigi Rosso’s cantina. What and evening. After such a great day, I knew I would return to the area but little did I know that it would become such an addiction that I would buy a house there and end up living in the area for a great part of the year.
Some 10 years later I returned to the area with a group of friends for a short holiday, yes tasting some wines but also visiting the other great tourist attractions that are on offer. It was then that I decided this would be where I’d like to settle and enjoy the great quality of life-style that Le Langhe gives you.
I bought a barn to convert, speaking no Italian, and somehow managed to get by with the help of a German lady who translated for me. I stayed in Alba during my visits to oversee the construction and assumed that when the build was complete I’d be spending a goodly part of my time there. How wrong could I have been.
First of all, my next-door neighbours were a complete delight. We are the only two properties in a small hamlet and I must offer my grateful thanks to them for guiding me and helping me learn about the life in the hills. The village itself consists of just 240 people, old, middle-aged and children, so not an enormous community. I was immediately taken to their hearts and any help or advice I needed was immediately on hand. I was invited into their homes to eat, drink and hear the history of the area. Never before, on all of my travels have I encountered such stunning food and such charming people.
I now spend my time simply, in the villages of the Langhe and Alta Langa living life as the locals do and seldom make the 12 kilometre journey to Alba save for the odd excursion to the Saturday market. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t stay and visit there as it has loads to offer the traveller, but for the real feel of Le Langhe, give yourselves a few days in the hills and experience the great lifestyle the region has to offer. Go slowly and drink in the atmosphere, you’ll become intoxicated with it and who knows? You may end up as a close neighbour in the future!