When is the best time to visit Piedmont? Let’s review.

Ceretto Winery Art
Ceretto's colorful Cappella delle Bruante was built in 1914 as a shelter for vineyard workers in the event of heavy rain or hailstorms. The chapel was never consecrated. It fell into disarray until two artists took on its update, which finished in 1999.

If you are looking to visit Piedmont, you are not alone. The 2014 UNESCO World Heritage Site designation of Barolo, Barbaresco, Nizza Monferrato and Barbera, Canelli and Moscato d’Asti and the castle of Grinzane Cavour has brought attention from exciting places: Decanter is talking Barbaresco, The New York Times is exploring Barolo and Truffles, and The Guardian has a top 10 list for Piedmont travel.

The write-ups are fantastic and I especially love the shout-outs for producers and shopkeepers that I am lucky enough to consider friends. But, for the everyday traveler a trip to Piedmont can be daunting to plan – though, the views alone make it worth the effort.

Langhe Vineyards in Barbaresco
Barbaresco Vineyards.

When I first started doing Piedmont travel in 2010 – yes, just five years ago – it seemed near impossible to find any information. Few hotels or producers had websites and hardly any tour guide options existed. Today it’s easier to find lodging and more travel guides are open for business. Unfortunately though, while more sites on tourism exist, many are still difficult to navigate and information is often in Italian only.

As a Piedmont travel planner — and local — I get questions all the time about the region. In the past six months alone I’ve done nearly a dozen articles and interviews on regional travel, food and wine, and wine tour tips. So, I thought I’d create a reference guide that captures the most important things to know about Piedmont wine travel, starting with the best time to visit Piedmont.

2005 Cannubi Barolo Chiara Boschis
2005 Cannubi Barolo – Chiara Boschis / E.Pira & Figli

When to Visit Piedmont

Save for those hot days in late June and July, I think anytime of the year is a good time to drink Nebbiolo. So, as far as I’m concerned you will do just fine here year round. Each season offers its own iteration of beauty as well as bountiful food. Let’s break down Piedmont travel by seasons.

Piedmont Travel Seasonality (may vary slightly by hotel):

  • Very High Season: July, September, October, November
  • High Season: May, June, August, December
  • Off Season: January to April

State Holidays in Italy (businesses, including wineries, may be closed):

  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday
  • Easter Monday
  • April 25, Liberation Day
  • 1st Friday of May, Labor Day
  • June 2, Republic Day
  • August 15, Ferragosto
  • November 1, All Saints Day
  • December 8, Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • December 25 and 26, Christmas Holidays
  • December 31, January 1, New Years Holidays

Annual Piedmont Weather Averages (by month):

Annual Piedmont Italy Weather
Annual Piedmont Weather, By Month (Celsius)
Annual Piedmont Italy Weather
Annual Piedmont Weather, By Month (Fahrenheit)

Visiting Piedmont: By the Seasons

Winter: Shhh…the vineyards are sleeping — and so is much of the region.

Winter in Piedmont, old Barbaresco Vines
Old Barbaresco vines from Cantina del Pino with the Tower of Barbaresco and Monviso visible in the distance.

After all the hard work of harvest both the vineyards and the bulk of the area’s tourism close up shop for their own winter nap. Hotels, restaurants, and effectually some of the local tour companies shutter from January to mid-March. Langhe hotels open in the winter include Hotel Calissano and I Castelli, both located in Alba.

Dates to know: If you are planning a late winter Piedmont wine trip be mindful of Vinitaly, Italy’s largest wine tradeshow of the year. It’s held in Verona and you will be hard pressed to schedule a winery visit during that week. The couple weeks leading up to it can also be difficult as many producers are at another wine industry event in Germany and / or they are prepping for the annual pilgrimage to Verona. Check the Vinitaly and ProWein websites for dates as they vary annually.

Wine tasting at Enoteca Regionale del Barolo
If you visit Piedmont in the winter and there is a chill in the air, head to the village of Barolo’s Enoteca Regionale del Barolo to learn about Barolo wine and taste from a selection of 32 wines. That should warm you right up!

Spring: Experience bud break.

If you are looking for great weather and less crowds try visiting Piedmont in the spring. Hotels and restaurants have re-opened for business and tour guides and producers are less busy so you get a little extra attention on your days out.

Piedmont, Neive village, Spring
Village of Neive (Barbaresco zone). In the spring the colors of Piedmont make everything brighter.

Dates to know: If you are planning a trip to Piedmont in the spring be mindful of the dates for Nebbiolo Prima. The annual event is a first look at latest vintages of the regional wines, particularly Barolo and Barbaresco. More than 250 companies and over 100 journalists from all over the world are in town so hotels and restaurants are busy. In addition producer availability is varied with meetings and events. Dates change annually, so check the Albeisa website. Dates aren’t always listed in a timely manner, so email the organization or the Langhe Roero tourist office.

Spring Events in Piedmont:

April, May:

  • Vinum: Each year the primary wine town of Alba hosts a wine festival that features all Piedmont wines. The event usually takes place around the last weekend of April and first weekend of May. Prices start at 10 euros for four tastings (includes souvenir wine glass and wine pouch).
  • Festa della Barbera, Castagnole delle Lanze: The village of Castagnole delle Lanze welcomes visitors and locals for a Barbera celebration with local wine and food producers and live music. See site for details (site in Italian).
  • Barbaresco a Tavolo: Local restaurants around town offer set menus to taste the newest Barbaresco vintage. Generally around 20 wines are featured each night with 60 new Barbarescos shown over three nights. The wines are presented blind and participants receive a tasting sheet. Wines are revealed at the conclusion of the evening.
    Barolo Vineyards Spring
    Barolo vineyards of Serralunga d’Alba in the spring. These vines are just starting to show life.

Summer: Watch the grapes grow.

Summer is a popular time for visitors, so it’s busier. The pros are that you can spend long nights outside, sipping wine. The grapes are turning lovely colors and the vineyards are ready for exploration. The cons are that if the mosquitoes like you, prepare for attack. And, when booking wine tours, remember you could be tasting a lot of tannic, rich Nebbiolo in humid temperatures of 85°F / 30°C plus.

Dates to know: Don’t forget Ferragosto! After the long hot summer Italians all over the country retreat to the seaside in celebration of the August period of rest, generally kicked off on August 15, a national holiday in Italy. It used to be that Italians would either take the entire month of August off or the last few weeks after Ferragosto. Now, economic struggles are forcing more people to stay open. Be cognizant of this tradition if you plan to visit Piedmont in August as it can be very quiet.

Aperitivo in Piedmont, Alba, Italy
In the summer we often enjoy whites like Favorita, Arneis, Langhe Chardonnay — some producers are even doing Langhe Rieslings. Give them a try!

Summer Events in Piedmont:

July, August:

  • Monforte Jazz Festival: An incredible jazz festival staged at the amphitheater in the historic hilltop village of Monforte d’Alba in the Barolo zone. Check schedule, shows run July and August (site in Italian).
  • Collisioni, Barolo: The region’s biggest music festival runs three nights in July with international musicians who play in the center of the historic village of Barolo. The 2015 lineup includes Sting (Tuesday July 21) and Mark Knopfler (Monday, July 20).

Fall: Harvest and truffle season – enough said.

There is nothing quite like zipping through the hills of the Langhe as the colors change – with the grapes ripening and the leaves changing. It’s incredible. Plus, it’s the start of truffle season. The Alba White Truffle is arguably the most sought after fungi in the world – certainly one of the most expensive. A visit to Piedmont in the fall is high season for tourism. Make reservations for hotels, tour guides, and even restaurants early. You can even book a truffle hunt.

Barolo Harvest at Bartolo Mascarello
Nebbiolo for Barolo Harvest at Bartolo Mascarello.
Alba White Truffle, Piedmont
Alba White Truffle or Tartufo Bianca d’Alba is shaved over pasta, fried eggs, risotto – anything and everything. Even gelato!

Fall Events in Piedmont:

September:

  • Asti Palio: The Palio tradition also takes place in the historic center of Asti. The 2015 event is September 15.   
  • Festa del Vino: Each year the city of Alba hosts all the communes of the Langhe and Roero for a wine festival featuring wines from each location. Cost is 10 euros for a souvenir glass and wine holder.
  • Bra Cheese Festival, Bra: Every other year the Slow Food Organization hosts its international Cheese Festival in Bra. The event features cheese from all over the world, a beer tent, a wine and cheese hall, and more. Cheese 2015 is slated for September 18 to 21.

October, November:

  • Piacere Barbaresco: A two day event in October that features only Barbaresco wines from recent vintages. The 2014 event showcased 2009, 2010, and 2011. Check the Entoeca Regionale del Barbaresco site for details, updated closer to the event.
  • Alba’s Palio degli Asini or The Alba Donkey Palio: Yes, that’s right, folks. In the center of Alba you can see a donkey race. The legend goes that the city of Alba used to win the Asti Palio. Asti didn’t take too kindly to losing to their neighbor, so instead of upping their game, they eliminated the competition and stopped inviting Alba to participate. Alba answered by hosting an event to mock the Asti fete. Ah, Italy. How I love thee. The event takes place the first Sunday of October to kick off the Truffle Fair festivities (see site for details).
  • The Alba White Truffle Fair: The biggest truffle fair in the world takes place over six weekends from mid-October to mid-November. The area organizes truffle seminars, events, and wine tastings in conjunction with the fair. Entry is 2 euros.

November:

I know, I’m a bit biased, but I think any time is good to visit Piedmont.

If you are planning a trip and have questions, drop me a note. Next we’ll talk about how to get around Piedmont. To get the update right to your inbox subscribe to Girl’s Gotta Drink in the upper right. Or, follow my wine updates on Twitter at @valeriekq!

Cin cin!

More Piedmont Travel Resources:

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35 Comments

  • Oh Valerie… Anytime is a good time to visit Piedmont

    I remember each and every hour for sure
    Cherished Neive tours… The Villa Lauri lures…
    The wine festival in Barbaresco for sure !

    • Thanks for reading, Heather! Yes, it is always a good time to visit Piedmont! Each season offers its own extra special goodness. Sigh.

      Never a dull moment. When will you be back!? Cin cin! Val

      • Hi Val…… just stumble across your name as looking around the web on Piemonte… I am an avid believer in any and everything in the region. I have a small place near Santa Stefano Belbo and visit multiple times per year. Next time am around love to meet for a glass of vino. I live permanently in Hong Kong and also have a wine distribution company [here] focused on Italian wines. Cheers JR

    • Thanks, Jen! It’s the question I get asked most about Piedmont travel. I have to laugh at myself because I can’t ever give a definitive time. There is something unique all the time! Can’t wait to show you around some day! Salute!

  • Thanks for this fabulous blog. I’m staying in Alba 10/22 to 10/30. My first time visiting Italy and I’m excited about what is to come. I plan on doing the truffle fair on Saturday, and want to explore wineries, as well as visit Genoa. Any advice you could offer would be wonderful.

    • Ciao, Jeannie! Thank you for your kind words! Please feel free to email me at girlsgottadrink @ gmail.com for specific questions. You can find more links to information with tips on our tour page as well as the “Piedmont Travel” category on the site. Enjoy your time here!

      Cin cin! Val

  • Hello! We are traveling to the Piedmont second week of October… would love some suggestion re small inns, hotels, agriturismo, rooms etc where we might find refuge for a night or two while traveling about.

    Ciao! and thanks!

  • Hi Valerie:

    I just found your site and wanted to thank you for the information! I’m in the early stages of planning a trip to the area in fall 2017. My ancestors are from Cuneo and Acceglio, so I have an interest in spending some time in Piedmont during my first trip to Italy (plus, it sounds amazing! I think I’m going to try to plan around the cheese festival now!). I hope you’ll keep writing.

    Amy

    • Ciao, Amy! Thank you so much for reading! I have a lot more to come. It’s just been a really busy period, so I’m behind on the posts! Please let me know if you need any recommendations or tips! How long will you be in the area? I’d love to meet up!

      Salute!

      • Valerie,

        Thanks so much! Right now, my partner and I are planning a whirlwind two-week trip flying in to Rome and out of Venice. It will be our first trip to Italy, but hopefully not the last, even though we are planning as if it could be. Anyway, right now I’m thinking about spending 4 nights in Alba as a base. The only other place I’d like to visit is Acceglio, so that I can be in the town of my ancestors and, hopefully, go on a day hike. We also want to do some wine touring and eating, of course. It would be really cool to meet up! I’ll follow up with you as are plans firm, since we’ve got (what seems like) a long time.

    • Thank you for reading, Joseph! Harvest is a lovely time to visit. It’s also very busy, so if you plan to come this year, I suggest you book lodging and activities early.

      Cin Cin! Valerie

  • I love this blog post! I’ll look into coming to one of the events. I am an expat living in Rome and love adventuring in Italy.. we’ll send you an email before we come and see if you are not too busy.. Thank you for all the great information.

    • Ciao, Pietra!

      Grazie Mille! If you come in the fall make sure to book lodging early. It’s been filling up far out the last couple years. Email me and I can give you some recommendations – girlsgottadrink @ gmail.com.

      I hope we can meet! My husband and I are thinking about a trip to Rome in May. I’d love to connect if we do!

      Buon weekend! Val

  • Hi Valerie!

    Found your blog site doing some research for a day trip to the Langhe I’m in charge of taking my family on in September. Love it! I’ve been pouring over all of your winery and restaurant recommendations! Wondering if I could get your thoughts on my proposed itinerary, given we’ll be coming from Recco for the day – there are just too many places that I want to visit! Would love to chat. Thanks!

  • Hi Valerie,
    I am currently researching this area for a UK cooking program , you seem very knowledgeable on the area and was wondering if you could help me out with a few questions, can we correspond somewhere less public? my email is lola.abineri@freshone.tv ,

    looking forward to hearing from you

    Lola

  • Hi Valerie! I stumbled upon this blog post and will be traveling to Northern Italy (flying in and out of Milan) 12/29 – 1/5 this year. We are hoping to spend some time exploring Piedmont, but we’re having trouble figuring out what will be shut down / best places to go. Alba seems great but will it be a ghost town? Do you have any recommendations for places to stay that’ll still have restaurants/wineries open and tours available?

    Let me know if chatting over email is easier! Thanks!!

    • Thanks for reading, Rebecca. I’m actually surprised at how many requests we’ve had for the end of December. We’ve asked around and only have found one producer who will be open for just the 28th. Given your dates, you may find someone the 3rd or the 4th.

      Restaurants and hotels should be open in Alba. I would not say it will be a ghost town. It’s a city of 30,000. There will be some places closed, but overall, there should be stuff open.

      I will send some suggestions on hotels in response to the email you sent. As for restaurants, my suggestion there is to reach out to see who will be open and to make reservations.

      Ciao ciao! Val

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