Exquisite truffles, the best chocolate and fine wines
Just thinking about the great white truffles from Alba, the full-bodied red wines Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco or the finest chocolates from Turin makes my mouth water. The region is also known far beyond its borders for its rice and diverse cheeses, and the merest thought of its culinary delights make the hearts of gourmets beat just that little bit faster.
An impressive 46 Michelin-starred restaurants pamper the palates of their guests. Cafés serve the popular Bicerin, the sweet and tart chocolate coffee drink. Turin, the city of Vermouth, the nut chocolate praline Gandujotti and the popular breadsticks Grissini, attracts hundreds of thousands every year. And we have Turin to thank for Vitello Tonnato as well as ice cream on a stick, which was first made here with a vanilla flavour and a coated layer of chocolate. The popular nut nougat cream also comes from Piedmont and was invented by Turin confectioner Pietro Ferrero in 1946.
Italy moves into the global golf spotlight
Italy is attracting attention not only because of the Ryder Cup taking place in Rome this year, but also because of great golf courses in the rest of the country. The recognized industry website ‘Top 100 Golf Courses’ recently rated the 60 best courses in Italy.
Almost half of the top 20 courses are located in Piedmont, which is known for its breathtaking landscapes, from the foot of the majestic Alps in the north to the rolling hills in the south, and mo fewer than four have made it into the top 10.
With its 51 golf courses and 15 driving ranges of the 240 golf facilities nationwide, Piedmont ranks second among all regions. Golf here dates back to 1898, when the Couturbier Golf Course in Navara was founded and was one of the only two Italian courses at the time.
Impressive Alpine scenery
If you are flying into Milan from Malpensa airport or travelling from Lake Maggiore, the two par-72 courses of Circolo Golf Bogogno designed by Robert Von Hagge, Mike Smelek and Rick Baril are the perfect start to your golf adventure through Piedmont. They are situated in a magnificent landscape and offer fantastic views of the mountains towering in the background.
The Del Conte Course (rank 18) is a par-72 course and bristles with links character. It is characterised by wide, open landing zones, various flat sections, large lakes and dense rough, and is embedded in the magnificent backdrop of the Monte Rosa peaks.
The Bonora Course (rank 16) is also a par 72 but is more parkland in design and weaves through the expansive hilly landscape of the nature park, surrounded by old trees and criss-crossed by pristine streams.
They are part of the Bogogno Golf Resort, which is situated at an altitude of 320 m above sea level. It offers 50 spacious, sunny rooms equipped with all amenities. Some of them have a balcony or terrace and large windows overlooking the swimming pool and the greens. The modern SPA and the Rooftop Bar invite you to relax.
From here, a trip to one of the many lakes in Piedmont is not to be missed and is highly recommended.
Stroll through Orta San Giulio
After a half-hour drive from the resort, you reach the idyllic village of Orta San Giulio on the eastern shore of Lake Orta and its well-preserved medieval houses. It is one of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (most beautiful places in Italy). The 16th-century town hall, which is well worth seeing, is located on the Piazza Mario Motta in the historic centre of the town, which is surrounded by magnificent, partly Baroque palazzi.
The short boat trip across the calm lake to the Isola di San Giulio is also worthwhile. A stroll through the cobbled streets to the Roman Catholic basilica with its magnificent Romanesque pulpit and the bishop’s palace rounds off the trip nicely. At the numerous Piedmontese lakes, including Lake Maggiore, a total of 70 bathing beaches invite you to take a dip in the calm, cool water.
From here, head southwest to Biella, home to number two in the aforementioned golf-course ranking.
Biella Le Betulle Golf Club
The golf club “Le Betulle” was founded in 1957. Nestled in a splendid natural landscape with dense forests of centuries-old beech, birch (Le Betulle) and chestnut trees, it is situated at an altitude of 590 m just a few kilometres from Biella and Ivrea. Its views of the Serra moraine hill with the Alps behind are extremely imposing.
The 18-hole championship course, a par-73 parkland layout, was designed by the English architect John Morrison and has been considered one of the best courses in Italy for decades. It is considered the course with the most typical English design in Italy and rolls through the hilly terrain, over bridges and gorges and past rocky cliffs.
Royal Park I Roveri
Founded in 1971 by the Agnelli family (co-founders of FIAT), the club is set in beautiful surroundings in the La Mandria nature reserve. It is surrounded by the Turin mountains, which magically attract the gaze of golfers. The club has always been one of the most exclusive in Italy. Several international tournaments, such as the Italian Open, the European Amateur Championship and the European Young Masters, have already been held here.
The Allianz Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior, is characterised by its great arrangement of bunkers, water hazards and large undulating greens. Its old trees also make it extremely visually appealing.
The second course, the Allianz Bank Course, was designed in 2006 and is the work of US architect Michael Hurdzan. He is one of the leading golf course architects in North America and speaks internationally on the subject of the environmental impact of golf. The collaboration was with Dana Fry.
It is his first course designed in Europe, where he brought his philosophy of harmonising the pristine natural landscape with the course. The course is relatively flat, open and with fewer trees. Numerous ponds and bunkers present its greatest challenges.
The Edoardo Molinari Golf Academy, founded by former European Ryder Cup star Edoardo Molinari in 2019, completes the extensive golf offer.
Circolo Golf Torino (La Mandria)
In the immediate vicinity of Royal Park I Roveri is the Torino Golf Club with its two 18-hole championship courses. The Blue Course and the Yellow Course are also located in the beautiful natural park of La Mandria. Originally founded in 1924, the club later moved here to the former game reserve of the Royal House of Savoy, where the famous Reggia di Venaria Reale palace is also located.
The uniqueness of the club is the location of the courses in its natural surroundings. Here one encounters untouched nature at its purest. You will look in vain for roads and buildings. Environmental protection and sustainability are very important to the club management. Proof of this is the Impegnati nel Verde prize awarded by the Italian Golf Federation in cooperation with the Istituto per il Credito Sportivo to promote the ecologically sustainable development of golf and to raise awareness of environmental issues among clubs and players.
Englishman John Morrison designed the original Blue Course in 1956, which now ranks sixth in the current Top 100 golfcours.com ranking. Some time later, the 18-hole Yellow Course was added. A number of holes were adjusted at the end of 1990 with the involvement of architects Marco Conze and Canadian Graham Cook in preparation for the 1999 Italian Open. The originally flat course received some mounding. In 2013 and 2014, the Italian Open was again held on the Blue Course.
Both courses are classic parkland designs, which today lead over slightly hilly terrain and are designed with many trees, bunkers and water hazards. The bunkers and greens, on the other hand, are flat.
An ideal base for playing the four courses of the Royal Park I Roveri and the Circolo Golf Torino is the romantic four-star Relais Bella Rosina Pool & Spa. It has been completely renovated and is also located in complete tranquility in the natural park of La Mandria.
Each of the 21 rooms is bright and spacious. Guests can choose between deluxe rooms, junior suites and suites. The rooms and suites overlook Bella Rosina’s large, heated pool and park.
It takes just over half an hour to reach the centre of Turin, which of course cannot be missed on a trip to Piedmont. The small, charming four-star Hotel Victoria & Iside Spa, with a beautiful courtyard, is located in its centre, within easy reach of the sights.
Rich culture and elegant architecture
Not only gourmets, but also culture and architecture lovers will find their taste here. Turin, the first capital of Italy and the todays capital of Piedmont, is impressive with its many baroque buildings, palaces, basilicas and monasteries.
Some of the city’s highlights are the Shroud of Turin, in which Jesus Christ was wrapped in the tomb and which is now kept in Turin Cathedral, the Egyptian Museum, the monumental Mole Antonelliana building, which is the city’s landmark with its soaring spire.
Also worth seeing are the elegant Piedmontese Royal Residence and the Galleria Sabauda, where numerous masterpieces by great European artists are on display.
Piedmont whets the appetite for grandiose nature, rich culture, culinary delights and star-studded golf courses. Via per il Piemonte.
Cologne, June 2023