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Truffles, Wine and the Langhe Hills Getaway Tour

By Langhe Hills No Comments

The rolling countryside of the Langhe Hills in Northern Italy is incredible, with its hilltops boasting medieval towns, magnificent castles, and world famous vineyards. This stunning landscape isn’t just picturesque and historic, it also produces some of the world’s best wine, hazelnuts, cheese, and truffles. Especially when you know where to look.

Different varieties of grapes have been lovingly cultivated here for centuries, and many of the vineyards here are still family-owned. We know that Etruscans and Celts traded for wine with locals here at least as early as the fifth century BC and that Ancient Romans took note of the quality. Good news! These rich landscapes and important cultural elements should be around for generations to come because in 2014 the Langhe-Roero and nearby Monferrato were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are wonderful hikes to enjoy through the vineyards of the Langhe Hills and many glasses of exceptional wines to taste along the way. Agri-tourism (called agriturismo in Italy) thrives here. Many of the stately country homes at local vineyards have been converted into guest houses that boast spa services and curated menus. Imagine enjoying restorative treatments at a spa that’s surrounded by the richness of Northern Italy’s wine regions.

There are many wonderful wines produced here, and perhaps the best known are Barbaresco and Barolo. Both of these are made from Nebbiolo grapes, but their distinctly different soil conditions create very different tastes. The Barolo “King of Wines” has more tannin than the Barbaresco.

Perhaps the most famous crop foraged from these hills is the legendary Piedmont truffle.

And by truffles we don’t mean chocolate truffles. We’re talking about the aromatic fungus that is found growing wild underground, somewhat like a potato or other tuber. Chefs around the world pay top dollar for this Italian culinary delicacy. In 2016 a white truffle weighing just over four pounds sold at a Sotheby’s auction for more than $60,000.

Attempts to cultivate crops of truffles in Australia and North America simply don’t match the flavor of those found in the wild in Italy so demand for these naturally occurring truffles stays high. Delicate white truffles are in season in October and November, when the annual autumn truffle festivals are in full swing all over the region, but there are delicious black truffles available year round.

For an authentic Northern Italian experience, you can stroll through the enchanting local forests as you enjoy a truffle hunt with an experienced truffle hunter called a “trifulau.” At one time truffle hunters worked with female pigs to find truffles, which apparently smell like a male pig to an amorous sow! Unfortunately, female pigs are rather greedy when they find truffles and their trampling enthusiasm destroys truffle beds. So today’s truffle hunters don’t rely on swine; they work with trained scent dogs.

There is quite a bit of skill and knowledge required to find good quality truffles, which typically grow in small amounts. It’s not unusual for a truffle hunter to find a few ounces of truffle, perhaps just under a pound, at a time. You’ll notice that truffle hunters are careful to ensure there’s some truffle left behind so that spores ensure future crops.

You can eat fresh truffles raw and they’re usually paired with a full-flavoured white wine or with a local red low in tannin. They’re also delicious cooked and often served in canapés or shaved over freshly made pasta or risotto. You’ll find them on the menu at local restaurants, which also boast long lists of delicious local wines to accompany their rich, exotic taste.

We should mention that many ancient civilizations – including the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks – used truffles as an aphrodisiac when they were looking to spark a little romance and fire up the libido. We’ll let you decide if that’s because of the truffle or the accompanying wine.

There’s no better place to experience Italian truffles and wine than in the Langhe Hills. Our small group Langhe Hills Getaway offers a four-day excursion into the Piedmont region that includes a truffle hunt led by a professional trifulau, a visit to a winery, a cooking class led by a local chef, and a time to relax and rejuvenate in a spa surrounded by vineyards. Contact our friendly, knowledgeable staff at Local Wonders Travel to book your small group Italian holiday now.

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limoncello is made from delicious Amalfi lemons

Sipping Limoncello on The Amalfi Coast

By Southern Italy No Comments

Nothing is more refreshing after a meal than sipping a deliciously tart Italian Limoncello. Limoncello is a taste of the Amalfi Coast, Italy, where lemon orchards have provided their bounty to generations of Italians — and visitors — for centuries. Trust us, Limoncello tastes best if you’re seated at a charming little restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean landscape. However, it is possible to enjoy this unique taste of Italy anywhere in the world with a little knowledge and preparation.

Lovely Limoncello

Limoncello is an alcoholic liqueur that is native to the Sorrento and Almalfi coastal areas. This bright yellow Italian drink is said to be a digestivo, or digestive aid, of great benefit after you’ve enjoyed a wonderful meal. Authentic Limoncello is made using a special variety of lemon that is grown on the Amalfi Coast. It is called sfusato amalfitano for its uniquely tapered shape and you won’t find lemons like these anywhere else in the world.

If you visit an orchard here along the edge of the Sorrentine Peninsula during the lemon harvest, you’ll notice how huge these sfusato amalfitano lemons are – much larger than typical lemons. Their thick skins are quite sponge-like, protecting the juicy interior of the citrus fruit until it’s time to enjoy their sweetly sour goodness.

Enjoying Limoncello

Most Italians end a hearty meal with a glass of Limoncello, but visitors to Italy also find it’s an excellent way to quench their thirst on a hot day after enjoying the local sights. It’s the perfect beverage for an outdoor patio. You see, Limoncello is not a drink to hurry or rush. Rather, it’s a drink to sip and enjoy slowly so that your tastebuds have time to enjoy the full flavor.

Limoncello is served cold. Some local Italians drink it straight from the freezer. However, those in the know advise against subjecting Limoncello to frozen temperatures. When it gets too cold the flavor is less intense.

The Taste of the Amalfi Coast

You’ll need to come to Italy to taste a truly authentic Limoncello, but with a little patience you can make good Limoncello at home. If you want to try making your own Limoncello at home, we recommend you use organic lemons because you need to use the lemon zest. You don’t want to add chemicals to your drink!

Additionally, Italians make Limoncello with unflavored alcohol that is 95% pure. Some English recipes will call for Vodka, but this isn’t authentically Italian. Look instead for this pure alcohol at your favorite liquor or wine shop; it is often used as a base for making various traditional homemade liqueurs. If you’re looking for a recipe to try we like nonna Maria’s easy Limoncello recipe.

Nonna Maria’s Limoncello Recipe


  • 5 Amalfi lemons (use organic lemons if you can’t Amalfi lemons)
  • 500 ml 95% pure grain alcohol
  • 500 g granulated sugar
  • 750 ml water


  • Peel the lemons. Be careful to take the yellow part only and not the white part. The white part is too bitter and it will ruin your limoncello. Add the peels to a lidded container and pour in the alcohol.
  • Leave the peels to soften and to flavor the alcohol for 20-30 days.
  • When the alcohol is ready, dissolve the 500 g of sugar into 750 ml of water. You can warm up the water to dissolve the sugar more easily just cool it back down to room temperature before you add the alcohol in the next step.
  • Strain the lemony alcohol through a fine sieve and then add it to the room temperature sugar water.

Once you’ve tried Limoncello you’ll want to enjoy your own adventure on the world-renowned Amalfi Coast. Our Treasures of The Amalfi Coast and Puglia tour offers 10 days of beautiful sights and sounds as you travel with a small group of up to 10.  This internationally famous region of Italy boasts beautiful little villages, spectacular views of the ocean, and wonderful winding paths through the mountainside.  Contact our knowledgeable, friendly staff at LocalWonders Travel to book now.

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