Music, Wine, Hikes, Food: Piemonte's Best Summer Events
- Written by Diana Zahuranec
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From July to August and beyond, summer in Piemonte means music festivals, food and wine walks, cultural events, and traditional sagre. These two months are full of events, so we’ve gathered some of the most important, biggest, and highly-anticipated ones of the season.
Listen to Music
Though 2015 marks the first edition of this concert series held just outside of Turin, the Flowers Festival is already hugely popular. National and international singers and bands play on the stage in the Certosa Park for an open-air music festival in Collegno, with ticket prices from just €5 to €25 each. Considering the line-up of well-known singers and groups, it is an outstanding deal. Some of the names that will be present are Modena City Ramblers, Max Gazzè, Caparezza, Sweet Life Society, Mellow Mood, Patti Smith…and many more.
Where: Lavanderia del Manicomio, Certosa Park, Collegno (TO)
When: July 4-27, 2015
Find more info here: www.flowersfestival.it
Monferrato Jazz Festival
The Monferrato Jazz Festival includes six concerts by renowned Italian and international artists. The month-long jazz itinerary will be hosted in locations especially chosen for their architectural beauty and prestige in Asti, Cinaglio, Cortanze, and Moasca, such as the Castle of Cortanze. Don’t miss Paolo Fresu, Diego Borotti, the Park Stickney Trio, the Paolo Dutto Swing Quartet, and many others that will play original music and repertoires from masters of jazz Nino Rota, Henri Mancini, and others.
Where: Asti, Cinaglio, Cortanze, Moasca (AT)
When: July 6-August 2
MonfortinJazz has become a fixed appointment for jazz and music-lovers. Set in the Horszowsky Amphitheater at the highest point in Monforte d’Alba in the heart of Barolo territory, many notable and appreciated musicians bring this event alive every year. The list of performers is impressive, including Chicago American rock musical band Los Lobos; New Orleans saxophonist Branford Marsalis; Norwegian indie-pop Kings of Convenience; Francesco De Gregori (described by Bob Dylan as “folk Italian hero”); and more. Thousands have attended this critically acclaimed event in the past to enjoy a unique night under the stars of the Langhe.
Where: Monforte d’Alba (CN)
When: July 10-August 2
Alba Music Festival
The Alba Music Festival stages over 20 international concerts in some of the Langhe’s most prestigious locales, from ancient castles to beautiful, old churches. Musicians, soloists, and orchestras come from Italy and the USA in a decades-old tradition of exchanging song and culture. The events don’t end with the concerts, but continue in workshops, seminars, and interactive classes. The concerts are free and open to the public, attracting over 10,000 people every year.
Where: Alba, Langhe (CN)
When: July 10-August 2
Find more info here: www.albamusicfestival.com
Wine, food, rock, and literature: what else can you ask for? Piemonte’s biggest and most popular music event of the season is set in the heart of UNESCO-named wine country in Barolo, with a rich schedule of concerts, seminars, talks with award-winning authors, street food, wine tastings, and more. It is the perfect mash-up of an informal, summertime setting with rock and lit, food and philosophy. This year, some of the biggest names are Paolo Nutini, Passenger, Mark Knopfler, Sting; Cesare Cremonini, Joe R. Lansdale, Jay McInerney, Umberto Galimberti, Daniel Pennac – and many more. And 2015 is the second year of its guided wine tastings. Organized and directed by Ian D’Agata, the wine tastings are presided over by winemakers, Italian and international critics, journalists, experts, and sommeliers.
Where: Barolo (CN)
When: July 17-21
Find more info here: www.collisioni.it
Bacco & Bach
Bacco&Bach pairs international chamber music with local DOC wines for a full-out listening and tasting experience. The concerts are tied to the territory, as the locations are chosen based on authentic courtyards, ancient palazzi, charming theaters, and stunning castles. The most representative wines of the Monferrato are selected, from the newest wineries to the most established and old Cantine; and before each concert, there will be a short presentation and tasting guide. Overall, it is a 360° experience with selected locations, high artistic quality, and excellent wines.
When: June 28-July 26
Find more info here: www.baccoebach.com
Come to Vinadio’s impressive 19th century Fort in August for a fairly new, yet highly anticipated music event of the year: Fortissimo. Rock out to music from popular bands like 2015’s lineup with Fast Animals and Slow Kids, The Skints, Africa Unite, and more; but it’s not just about music ringing through the Alpine foothills. Exhibits, workshops, and meet-ups with artists of many genres will also animate the Savoian Fort, with campers setting up tents and sleeping bags in the area in occasion of the festival. Check back for details as the program is updated.
When: August 20-22
Find more info here: www.ballocoicinghiali.it/fortissimo
Take a Hike
Nighttime in the Rocks – Notturni nelle Rocche
Choose from 20 different hikes over the summer and enjoy the open air and pleasantly warm nights in the Roero. The trails wind through the 19 townships in the Rocks of the Roero park; the Rocks (Rocche) are a noticeable feature of the local landscape – bare cliffs that appear in patches among the forests and vineyards. The hikes are held in June, July, and the first half of September, last about two hours, and include a snack and bedtime tea at the end. The trails are suitable for any level of hiker, and there is even the option of Notturno Bike for cyclists who’d like to explore specific trails on two wheels.
Where: Rocks of Roero (CN)
When: June 5-September 8
Find more info here: Program found on www.ecomuseodellerocche.it
Slurp! and Walk
On Italy’s day of Ferragosto, August 15, the delicious food and wine walk "Slurp! and Walk" comes to the mountains of Sestriere. There will be five stopping points along the journey to taste wine and traditional, local food. The route is about 8 kilometers long, and runs through the deep silence of the mountains in the Susa Valley, with a change in altitude at just 250 m, making it a trail suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
Where: Sestriere (TO)
When: August 15
Find more info here: www.slurpandwalk.it
Get a bit of exercise and taste excellent local wines and foods of the Langhe: one of the summer months' most anticipated events is the Mangialonga, a non-competitive walking course that winds through the beautiful vineyards and hills of La Morra. The walk is 4 kilometers and passes through beautiful, UNESCO named countryside. Over the years, the incredible scenery, great weather, and amazing food at the end have attracted reservations from all over Italy and abroad.
Where: La Morra (CN)
When: August 30
Find more info here: www.mangialonga.it
Be a Culture Vulture
Photo from Luca Boldrini, Creative Commons
Summer Evenings at the Reggia
The Reggia of Venaria opens its magnificent doors on Fridays and Saturdays of July and half of August for a series of cultural events and exhibitions in the evenings. The schedule is graced with a tour of the Reggia and its enchanting gardens, sometimes referred to as the “Versailles of Italy;” exhibits, shows, and dance performances; contemporary sculpture; and more. By purchasing a separate ticket, the Reggia also has trips in a horse and carriage, train, or gondola outings on the fishpond.
Where: Reggia di Venaria (TO)
When: July 3-August 15
Find more info here: Calendar of events at the Reggia di Venaria
Castelli Aperti, or Open Castles, is a project running from April to October that opens the doors of many of Piemonte's castles for the public, often with special hours, shows, and guided tours. Piemonte has one of the highest concentrations of castles and forts in Europe due to its noble past. Open Castles gives visitors the chance to explore the region’s past, with stops at hundreds of castles, villas, royal gardens, and forts in Asti, Biella, Turin, Vercelli, Alessandria, Cuneo, and Novara. Check out their site or sign up for their newsletter for the calendar of events – visits are held on the weekends – as it is updated.
Where: Langhe, Roero, Monferrato, Torinese
Find more info here: www.castelliaperti.it
Enjoy some Wine, Food, & Beer
Photo from Nick Kidd, Creative Commons
Moscato Canelli and the Colors of Wine
Raise your glass to a long evening of sipping wine in the streets, piazzas, and suggestive courtyards in the heart of the wine city Canelli. The town and its surrounding area is a zone famous for Moscato cultivation, and is a “core zone” on the UNESCO World Heritage List. On Saturday, July 11, wine lovers can get to know Moscato Canelli wine and the area's other "colors of wine" from ten different winemakers coming from the vineyard-covered hills that surround the capital of Italian sparkling wine.
Where: Canelli (AT)
When: July 11
Find more info here: www.moscatocanelli.it
Birra, d’Ecc (Beer, Etc.) is a popular series of craft beer festivals held in seven different cities in Piemonte from April to October. In July, Birra, d’Ecc stops at Cuneo (7/23-26); but don’t miss its later dates in Turin (9/17-20) and Vigevano (10/2-4). The most important part of the festival is the craft beer on tap, of course, but there will also be food for all tastes and ages. Get something on the run, enjoy a sit-down meal Italian-style, or go ethnic with Brazilian or Argentinian grilled meat – and master brewers will be on hand to offer their ideas for the best pairings.
Where: Cuneo (CN)
When: July 23-26 (with later dates until September)
Find more info here: www.birradecc.it
Calici di Stelle
Chalices of Stars is the biggest and farthest reaching summer wine event, a wine tasting from Sicily to the Aosta Valley under the stars in Italy’s historical centers, wineries, piazzas, and locales. And wine will prove to be the ideal pairing to an evening of shows, cultural initiatives, extended store and museum hours, art, and of course delicious local food – all seamlessly joined together for this Italy-wide event. Click here to see the participating wineries in Piemonte.
When: August 10
Find more info here: www.movimentoturismovino.it/it/piemonte
Fiera del Pesco
Get a taste of an authentic sagra, or traditional, local town festival. The Peach Fair is one of the Roero’s most important sagre, dedicated to an agricultural product that is closely tied to their economy and cuisine. In addition to concerts, shows, exhibitions, and sporting tournaments, there will be a food competition to determine which district or village can serve the most delicious cuisine and best wine, from antipasto to dessert. To top it all off, the “Queen of Canale” will of course make an appearance: the Peach in all her glory, from baked and stuffed to braised in wine.
Where: Canale (CN)
When: July 25-August 8
Find more info here: Program found on www.comune.canale.cn.it
Fiera della Nocciola
For more than a century, Castagnole delle Lanze has hosted their fair dedicated to the hazelnut, an important part of their agrarian economy and cuisine. The traditional summer's-end event celebrates the Tonda Gentile variety of hazelnut found in the Langhe, officially recognized as Piedmont Hazelnut IGP. It is especially appreciated by bakers and the pastry industry, because the hazelnut is excellent in desserts. Click here for a traditional torta della nocciola recipe and wine pairing!
Where: Castagnole delle Lanze (AT)
When: August 31
Find more info here: www.eventilanze.com