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Barolo is the heart of the Langhe, a country clinging to the side of a high plateau, protected and surrounded by vineyards of Nebbiolo. “Barolo” refers to a wine, a castle, and a village inhabited by less than 800 people on its 5 square kilometers of land (3 square miles). Park in Piazza Cabutto to explore this town on foot. Although small, Barolo has wine bars, museums, and restaurants aplenty to pass a pleasant afternoon; and there is no lack of picturesque buildings and houses built nearly on top of one another in a natural, artistic growth of the town rather than an architectural design.
But the best is yet to come: in front of you, the closely-built houses of the town open up to reveal the symbol of Barolo, its Castle. But before heading up the sloping street to enter, take a tour of the Corkscrew Museum right before the castle, which houses a collection of 500 corkscrews from all over the world, made from as early as the 1600s. After a short visit, walk up towards the castle. In the piazza is the Tourist Office, which provides information about events, shows, and other activities going on throughout the Langhe. While Barolo is a charming town for tasting some of Italy’s best wine, it is also an artistic and cultural destination, thanks to the many initiatives that have developed over the years.
Captivating and majestic, its history stretching back thousands of years and its halls and rooms filled with curiosities and interesting displays, the Castle of Marchesi Falletti is a powerful and imposing symbol of the town. The original castle center was constructed by Berengario I to defend against the frequent Saracen raids. The first written testimonial from the 1200s is a deed of property cessation of the original castle from the Lords of Marcenasco to the community of Alba which, a few years later, ceded the property to the Falletti. The Falletti family then restructured the building and made it their permanent home. They were a powerful family of bankers and representatives of the new bourgeoisie who contributed greatly to the destiny of Barolo and its surrounding zones. Open to visitors and situated inside the Castle are the Historical Library, where Silvio Pellico worked for many years, the Museum of Farmers, and the Wine Museum. When done touring the castle, continue your visit of the town, descending the narrow street that cuts a path next to the church just in front of the castle: you’ll find yourself in Via Collegio Barolo at the Regional Enoteca of Barolo, housing an extensive exposition of wines. Taste wines of different labels at your pleasure. In the center of the room is a three-dimensional model representing all Barolo zones, representing the best cru here. And if you decide to buy cases of wine but are unsure how to transport them back home, no problem: the Enoteca ships to all corners of the world. Exiting the Enoteca, we suggest another pause at the Bottega di Juliette Colbert, where shopkeeper Oriana will happily show you great wine labels and many particular products such as confections, truffle sauces, and various oils.
After this first walk through Barolo, your best course of action is to lose yourself in the small streets that snake around and through the town, stopping wherever your feet lead: first to a wine bar, then at a small but excellent restaurant, a bed and breakfast, or shops of wine producers and artisans, all delighted to welcome you and pass some time telling you about their craft. If you’re hungry, taste the traditional menu proposed by the restaurant Rossobarolo: meat braised in Barolo, chocolate Marchesa cake, and sweet zabaione with Barolo, to name a few items. Rest your feet under the porticoes of the Posta di Barolo with its hint of French influence and six comfortable bedrooms.
It will be difficult to leave the enchanting town of Barolo, which seems suspended in time and space. To draw out your stay just a bit longer, you might want to dedicate a day or two to the trails around Barolo, courses that can be taken on foot or bicycle through the vineyards and green hillsides.