Uncovering Italy’s Superlatives in people, places and things

Exploring Contemporary Art in the Langhe

This tiny territory in Piedmont is full of art

It’s a fact. There is nothing better than the Langhe e Roero, Piemonte’s niche territory of castles, culinary delights and contemporary art. The southeastern area is a cornucopia of everything wonderful in Italy from the most prestigious and beloved wines like Barolo, Brunello and Dolcetto d’Alba, incredibly simple and rich dishes like bagna cauda and tajarin and insanely enchanting truffle recipes (in pasta, on a fried egg!) to fairytale towns and castles. And all throughout the spectacular countryside are site specific art installations by the world-recognised artists, so pack comfortable walking shoes, charge your phone and fill up the car with gas – you’re going for an art drive in the Langhe.

Sunshine and Sol LeWitt

Drop a pin to La Morra, a tiny medieval town a thirty-minute drive southeast of Torino, the heart of Barolo country. On the crest of a hill in the very epicentre of some of the best vineyards in the world is Capella di Brunate, also known as Chapel of Barolo and/or Sol LeWitt and David Tremlett Chapel. In 1999, artists LeWitt and Tremlett transformed the abandoned building into a rainbow-hued work of art open to all.  Lewitt designed the exterior, and Tremlett the interior. The Chapel has literally become a mecca for art lovers, making it one of Barolo’s busiest and most instagrammable sites, reached by a nice hike.

Capella di Brunate, also known as Chapel of Barolo and/or Sol LeWitt and David Tremlett Chapel

Contemporary art and cuisine in and around Novello

A quick drive south to Novello to check out the Langhe’s newest installation, Griglie d’Oro by Olivier Mosset where the Swiss artist has upgraded a Brutalist water tower with gold roof, gate and grills, underlining the importance of water. Visit nearby Monforte d’Alba, a beautiful medieval town whose piazza hosts musical concerts. And then escape the valley for a lunch at Ristorante FRE, a work of art on the plate by chef Yannick Alléno, who takes his guests on an emotional journey through taste and innovation, in particular his clever sauces, extractions and fermentations. You’ll be inhaling as much as eating.

David Tremlett colours the Langhe

After the Brunello chapel, Tremlett fell in love with Piemonte and over the past few years, the British artist has colonised the Langhe with celestial rainbows. Place coordinates for Coazzolo, a fraction of a town in Asti’s Moscato hills, where the British artist painted the Chiesetta di Coazzolo, looming over the lush countryside. Like the Barolo chapel, the tiny church is a multihued mini-monument nestled in the natural landscape.  If you’re up for a walk, follow the sign Vigna dei Pastelli,a vineyard-cum-art trail of colourful, larger-than-life pencils amidst the vines where every stop is picture perfect. Coazzolo has a beautiful look-out point which is also an audio-sensory experience, an open-air amphitheatre overlooking the countryside. Everyday at 6pm, music fills the air -from classic to contemporary.

Serravalle Langhe for a visit to the Oratorio della Madonna di San Michele whose interior Tremlett painted in a celebration of the area’s natural colours, and Santo Stefano Belbo to Relais San Maurizio for Tremlett’s latest rainbow chapel.

The Chapel at Relais San Maurizio, Santo Stefano Belbo by David Tremlett. Photo by Erica Firpo
Chiesa di Coazzolo

Contemporary artist residence in Momboarcaro

Next pin: Weave yourself through Langhe countryside of sloping hillsides and neatly lined vineyards to Lunetta11 in the ancient hamlet of Mombarcaro. Founders Eva Menzio, Claudia Zunino and Francesco Pistoi restyled an old farmhouse to create an artist residency and organic open-air installations. Throughout the year host shows featuring national and international artists. You won’t find Tremlett, but you’ll encounter established and emerging artists. Hungry? Ca del Lupo is the perfect pitstop for those Piedmontese dishes you crave la battuta di Fassona (a sumptuous beef tartare), agnolotti del plin (Piemonte’s interpretation of ravioli) and tajarin al piemontese (handmade egg-yolk tagliolini).

Lunetta11 in the ancient hamlet of Mombarcaro, by Paolo Grassino. Photo by Erica Firpo.

Mapping Piemonte with Art

Want more? Get your map ready. Art Mapping Piemonte, a collaborative outdoor art project by Artissima, Piedmont Region and Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo, highlights present and future site specific installations in the region, most of which are in southeastern area.  Mollet’s tower is part of a line up which includes Mario Airò (2019) deconsecrated church of San Remigio in Parodi, Robert Coda Zabetta’s Cntr in Priocca and 2021, Zhang Enli create a work of art on a countryside chapel in Montabone. Likewise, Creativeamente Roero funds visual and performance art projects and residencies in the Roero area, bringing the audience out into the countryside. 

Contributed by Erica Firpo.

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