Bra & Pollenzo
Home to some of the best gastronomic alchemy in Italy, Bra is the small, unassuming Piedmontese town where the Slow Food Movement first took root in 1986. The initial manifesto ignited a global crusade against fast food. The backlash worked and Bra happily broadcasts its success.
Wine lovers rejoice! This tiny, 1800-hectare parcel of undulating land immediately southwest of Alba knocks out what is arguably the finest vino in Italy. Unbiased laypersons call it Barolo (after the eponymous village where it is produced), but everyone else hails it as the 'wine of kings' and discusses its velvety truffle-scented flavours with an almost religious reverence.
Same grape, different flavour! Only a few kilometres separate Barolo from Barbaresco, the home of the renowned wine of the same name, but a rainier microclimate and fewer ageing requirements have made the latter into a softer, more delicate red that plays 'queen' to Barolo's 'king'.
Ping-ponged between Alba and Asti during the Middle Ages, Neive is a quieter proposition these days, its hilltop medieval layout earning it a rating as one of Italy's borghi più belli (most beautiful towns). Come here to taste the village's four legendary wines – Dolcetto d'Alba, Barbaresco, Moscato and Barbera d'Alba – amid sun-dappled squares and purple wisteria.