Cuneo, a city of about 55,000 people, is west of Genoa, almost at Italy's border with France. It's widely renowned for its rum-filled chocolates. On the local menus, the sweets appear as “Cuneesi al rhum,” and they're well worth the indulgence of calories.
You can find a lot to do in and around Cuneo, including museum tours, wineries, castle tours, and parks full of hiking trails. Ideally, you would take a train here from Genoa and then continue north, using the train line to Turin for longer itineraries. Fall is an excellent time to visit, with the annual chestnut fair in early October marking the start of the festival season.
Barolo, Barbaresco, Dolcetto, and Barbera are the reds you might know from this part of Italy, and if you are at all a wine connoisseur, then you know the best of these bottlings come at a high price if you order them in the United States. Visiting the source has its perks, and that includes tastings and offerings at far more reasonable rates.
Many of the wineries in this region close for at least a few days each week in January. Some of the wineries close for the entire month. If you're planning to visit during that time of year, it's imperative that you call ahead to your winery of choice, lest you arrive to find the proprietors off on their winter vacation in the Caribbean.
Some of the wine cellars are worth visiting even if you don't care to taste their vintages. The Barolo Regional Wine Center, for instance, is inside a castle that contains a cultural museum. A good resource for planning tours to wineries such as this is the website
Castles and Museums
There are a dozen or so castles and museums to tour within easy travel distance of Cuneo. Some of the structures date to the 1400s and 1500s, while others hold important cultural significance.
One castle you might want to visit is Castello di Serralunga, northeast of Cuneo. It was built in the 1300s and has a moat you need to cross via a drawbridge. Another interesting option is Castello Reale, located in Racconigi about halfway between Cuneo and Turin. You can see the royal residence's paintings and sculptures, and you can also tour the substantial gardens. Still another good touring choice is Forte di Vinadio, located west of Cuneo. It's a massive military fort that U.S. and British forces bombed extensively during World War II (you can still see the scars today). As with winery tours in this region, a good source for English-speaking castle tours is