This Is Where Italy's Best Vines Grow 🍷 // a Colli Tortonesi Travel Guide

This Is Where Italy’s Best Vines Grow 🍷 // a Colli Tortonesi Travel Guide

Italy’s best wine grow in Colli Tortonesi. A comune of Piemonte.

I hope Italy is on your travel list soon. It’s good to know, that most worthwhile experiences are best recommended by us locals → so believe when I say, one of the truest assets of Italy is its captivating way to enable the disclosure of its small hidden treasures.


The rare gems of Italy lay far away from the crowds of tourists — who rush to places like the Colosseum, Pompei, Florence, and Venice. But there is so much more beauty to capture in our country.

We Italians are proud of our heritage and part of who we are grows on the vines and lands we populate. These hidden gems are some of Mother Nature’s best gifts to the world.



One of our hidden gems is in an area named Colli Tortonesi, which lucky for most is not far from Milan. The main town is Tortona and its region is Piemonte. Tortona and its surrounding area is located in a corner of Piemonte among three regions: Lombardia, Emilia, and Liguria. In fact, we are among the hills but the sea is not so far.

What makes it special:

Wine 🍷 and its breathtaking views and small town feel. Perfect place to experience the true beauties of Piemonte, Italy and to live life. A simple beauty.

Best time to travel:

Become a temporary citizen of Tortona. Seriously, be our guest! I suggest Spring and Fall. This is to avoid the cold Winters as well as the hot Summers. During Fall, the first half of October is gorgeous. While the month of May is best for Spring time travelers. I will be there for a week in May of 2017 so please, do let me know if you plan on traveling then. Just comment below ↓


Get there:

Fly into Milan and rent a car!! There are also trains that will take you straight to Tortona.

  • BEST CHOICE → Car time: About an 1 hour and 18 minutes (79.4 km)
  • Train time: Anywhere from 47 minutes to an 1 hour and 20 minutes.


Tortona is on an important railway (Milano – Genova) and arriving by train is easy, comfortable, and very affordable! But the trains won’t take you into the hills so that’s why my best recommendation is to rent a car and see it all!


Mark this on your must experience list because Casa Cuniolo is outstanding and gorgeous! It’s a private home of the Cuniolo family → a very important family of Tortona.


Lady Gabriella Cuniolo, rearranged her home to this charming small hotel with only four rooms. Each very unique.

The entire place carries an enchanting charm with its luxury ancient furniture and love for detail. And, my God, their breakfast mornings is quite an experience! My words would not be enough as it’s so rich and delicious to keep you full and active throughout your day → until dinner time → Do ask for Bobby! You’ll thank me. Trust.


Since we have a car, don’t forget it’s the best means of transportation here, we travel. Actually, I would like to say “we sail” along the hills. Why “sail”? Because the views are the sweet sides of the hills. Full of vines, smooth strokes, and gentle waves.

In this area, Colli Tortonesi, there are some of the best wines of Piemonte and, therefore, of Italy!

Speaking of, let’s visit the winery Vigneti Massa, located in Monleale (close to Tortona).
We arranged an appointment with the owner and you cannot miss to meet him → Walter Massa.


Walter Massa of Vigneti Massa (Piemont, Italy) for Simple Wine News magazine

Walter Massa of Vigneti Massa (Piemont, Italy) for Simple Wine News magazine

Jump onto his SUV and he will drive you among his wine-yards, naming them one by one. His stories are lovely and interesting.

Why Be Curious? There are thousands of native grape varieties in Italy! That’s true, but a lot of them are merely cute. The most serious native variety Timorasso deserves another category (and it’s white to boot). It’s utterly unique, complex, capable of aging, and transparent to where it’s grown. Walter Massa is the contadino straordinario who brought the grape back to life in the early 1980s. He remains the leading producer and go-to grower for Timorasso. —

Walter Massa

Walter Massa

Wine 101:

At the winery Vigneti Massa, Walter lead us on a guided wine tasting of his whites and reds → this is what we learned: 

  • Freisa is a red grape →  sip and enjoy L’Avvelenata.
  • Croatina is a red grape → sip and enjoy Pertichetta.
  • Barbera is a red grape → taste the classic red wine, Monleale.
  • Then, a white grape, moscato bianco, and its wine Anarchia Costituzionale
  • Walter finished the tour with his most famous wine (found in Italy), Timorasso!

To match the white wines, pair these with the cheese Montèbore.

To match the red wines, pair these with the cheese Salame Nobile di Giarolo. 


Don’t miss Volpedo, one of cutest small towns of Italy. It’s the hometown of Italy’s famous painter Pellizza. His most famous painting is Quarto Stato → The small museum deserves a short visit too.

The Fourth Estate is a famous picture painted by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo in 1901, originally entitled The Path of Workers.

The Fourth Estate is a famous picture painted by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo in 1901, originally entitled The Path of Workers.

Catch the sunset → walk in the historical center of Tortona; no rush, slow, slow, slow, please! Enjoy every little detail, far from worries: be happy!


Are you hungry ? Is it dinner time, now? Well, don’t worry. We know where to dine and it is a lovely surprise. Lady Gabriella owns and leads the restaurant San Giacomo, in the heart of the historic center of Tortona. I hope you saw the sunset there.

Great location. A courtyard, elegant tables, ancient furniture and, of course, great cooking!
Let’s begin with a platter of salumi. You will appreciate Salame di Varzi — sorry, in Italy the name of the food is never only one word — and its best to pair each plate with a glass (or two) of white wine.

Onto the next plate, do you remember the Montèbore from Walter’s winery? Well, now you will enjoy gnocchi al Montèbore, one of the most delicious plates I have ever eaten!

So, go on as you like until dessert. You will never forget the experience to dine at Sangiacomo restaurant in Tortona!

And … tomorrow? Oh, we can dine here again or, why not, live a new experience at Anna Ghisolfi restaurant, which is located in the center of Tortona. This rare find is in a former Church. Not a usual restaurant, but more!

The kitchen is in the dining room and allows you to be part of the cooking experience! The bar is not too far where wine and limitless finger foods await. Anna is extremely talented, creative, and clever. I love very much how Anna cooks!

Then, once you’re seated at the table → ask for her agnolotti.

Do you like sweetness? OK! When it comes to dessert, indulge! Don’t be shy to ask for “scorpacciata”! Scorpacciata means that you will eat the whole offering of “dolci” → the sweets.

No regret, believe me.