No one denies the beauty of Italy, it is indeed one of the most fascinating destinations on earth, but that fact only attracts millions of tourists every year to the point that a romantic visit can be easily turned into a nightmare.
Summer is a very busy season, hotels are very expensive, restaurants are usually packed, and to find a spot to park a car can be seen almost as a miracle.
Barolo seems to escape to all these realities of massive tourism. It is a beautiful little town in the Piemonte region, surrounded by equally charming small cities. It is famous because some of the best wine of the world is produced here, still it is such an elite wine that not even many self-proclaimed wine connoisseurs will know what kind of wine we are talking about. The region and the process to produce the wine has been made part of the world heritage program by UNESCO.
Barolo itself is a tiny little town, with a small castle, a free parking lot and many intimate streets that are a delight to explore. There are tons of wine shops, one of the most famous is Marchesi del Barolo, in the basement of the castle it is possible to participate in a wine tasting for those who want to become familiar with these excellent wines.
It is a hilly region so the panoramas around are enchanting. There are many delicious local restaurants, souvenir shops and stores with traditional Piemontese products.
Not far from Barolo is possible to visit La Morra (just 10 minutes away by car), Serralunga de Alba, Barbaresco and many other wonderful places.
Barolo and its surroundings stay out of all the bustle of massive tourism. It is actually quite nice to spend there at least three or four days, it will be a relaxing experience for anyone and heaven for wine lovers.
There are many bed and breakfasts, several of those are located in the same well regarded vineyards. It is beautiful in the mornings to get out and bike or just walk to be immersed in the peace of this place. Breakfast at these lodgings is normally delicious. There are as well regular hotels or vacation houses to rent. It is difficult to find big tourist groups around, or overcrowded hotels and that is something good in Italy!
One needs a car, it is the best way to get to Barolo and to explore all the other destinations around. It takes only 2 hours from Milan or a little more than one hour from Turin, both cities are well served by international airports.
Next time you plan a trip to Italy it may be a good idea to go off of the beaten path, you will be surprised to discover that things still go at a different pace in some towns, that a tourist visit can be relaxing and that here wine is indeed heavenly.