Beyond wines and truffles, the Langhe area of Piedmont features several interesting historic sites – one of them is the massive medieval castle of Grinzane Cavour, located in the town by the same name, 5 km from Alba, the unofficial capital of the Langhe.
Grinzane Cavour was originally known simply as Grinzane, but later changed its name in homage to Italian statesman Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, who was the mayor of the town for 17 years and who resided in the castle for 17 years. Cavour is a very important figure in the history of Italy as he was one of the leaders of the movement towards Italian unification.
The exact origins of the castle are not known, but it is thought to have been erected between the 13th and 14th centuries around a central tower dating to the first half of the 11th century. The castle was owned by different lords until Cavour started residing there in 1832. He restored the building and improved the vine cultivations in the area.
The castle currently houses an ethnological museum, with displays on truffles, rare articles relating to the local food and wine traditions, 17th and 19th-century kitchen settings, a distillery from the 1700s, a cask-maker’s workshop, and rural life objects. There is also an exhibition devoted to Cavour, with some of his furniture and manuscripts, as well as his mayoral tricolor sash. Guided tours, hosted by no less than Camillo Benso Count of Cavour himself (!), are available.
The castle is home to the Cavour Regional Enoteca, created in 1967 to showcase Piedmontese grappas and the prestigious wines of the Langhe, especially the world-famous Barbaresco and Barolo. Tastings can be arranged.
The castle also houses a restaurant helmed by Michelin Star chef Marc Lanteri (Al Castello).
In the end, it looks like you cannot really escape wines and local delicacies when you are visiting the Langhe, but that is not such a bad thing.
For more information and to plan your visit, check the Castello Grinzane Cavour website.