In honor of world Nutella day, here are some Nutella-related itinerary highlights from the place that the hazelnut treat was invented, the region of Piedmont. Nutella in Italy is really Nutella in Piedmont, and it’s really Nutella in the Langhe, just a small (but famous) corner of Piedmont mainly known for Barolo and Barbaresco wines. My itinerary also included hiking, castles, and all-around great food and of course wine, but when my guide found out that he was dealing with a Nutella lover, he made some extra stops.
If only Nutella grew on trees. Well it starts there. Standing in one spot in the Piedmont countryside, I could see hazelnut patches sandwiched between hills covered with Nebbiolo grape vines (which ultimately become Italy’s famous Barolo wine) and forests reserved for truffle hunters. My guide explained that every inch of land in these parts has a specific use: based on soil, altitude, and light.
We then hit the lovely little town of Neive to browse some small food shops..
This is worth trying: order an espresso (“un caffe'”) and ask them to put some Nutella in it.
Mr. Ferrero invented Nutella in the 1940s and went on to create other famous products such as the Ferrero Rocher chocolates, the Kinder line of chocolates and Tic Tacs. Driving along a winding countryside road near Alba, my guide indicated a large hedge and said that behind it lay the Ferrero family’s mansion. The Ferrero factory itself is impossible to tour (people have tried hard), but it’s in the center of the town of Alba and you can smell the chocolate if you get close enough. The company is so worried about secrets leaking out, my guide explained, that they even engineer and make their own machines. I snapped a photo of the giant factory from across the parking lot.
So, I love Nutella but thought it would be fair to give another local hazelnut spread a try. Crema Novi is from the nearby town of Novi Ligure – also known for its chocolate – and is not hard to find in Italy but I’ve never seen it abroad. It was difficult to decide which one I liked better, so I’ll have to continue my taste-testing….
All photos by Madeline Jhawar
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