When it comes to jetsetting, there’s luxury travel…and then there’s Fischer Travel. The New York-based concierge has arranged everything from private, after-hours tours of The Vatican to last-minute private-plane charters to St. Barths for 70 people. With more than 50 years of experience making the impossible possible for the highest of high-end clients, Fischer knows how to produce a seriously lavish vacation—but it doesn’t come cheap. The company requires a participation fee of $100,000 in order to become a client, plus $25,000 for each additional year of membership. Even if price is no object, you will need to be a bit resourceful since Fischer doesn’t have a website or a listed phone number.
When DuJour asked Stacy Fischer, the company’s president, and her team to choose an off-the-beaten-track destination for the fall, we asked for a place that would offer posh accommodations, heavenly dining, spectacular scenery and one-of-a-kind activities. Working with their international go-to wine merchant Soutirage, they selected Piedmont, Italy. Located at the foot of the Alps in the country’s northwest corner, Piedmont is famous for its truffle season, which begins in September. Autumn is also a fantastic time to tour the region’s many vineyards and wineries and enjoy the region’s other renowned product—a growing number of oenophiles say that Piedmont is producing some of the best wines in Italy. Here, from the experts at Fischer Travel, Soutirage and the editors of DuJour is your itinerary for the ultimate fall getaway.
WHERE TO STAY
Villa d’Amelia, Benevello
An exquisitely renovated 18thcentury estate, the Villa d’Amelia accomplishes strikes the perfect balance between intimacy and opulence. Situated on a hillside in the heart of the Langhe region, it offers breathtaking views of the Alps and the Barolo vineyards. Among the hotel’s 37 rooms, the Attic Room suite or the San Luigi Chapel have been the favorites of previous satisfied guests. Bonus: The hotel is also home to a Michelin-starred restaurant.
WHERE TO DINE
For lunch: La Ciau del Tornavento, Treiso
At this restaurant, you’ll be blown away by the knockout vineyard view from your table—and that won’t even be the highlight of your meal. The imaginative menu contains dishes like risotto with foie gras and cocoa, and Sicilian red prawns with stracciatella burrata and tomato confit. The plates brought to you will not only be a delight to the palate but also to the eyes—the kitchen painstakingly assembles them so they’re culinary works of art. (http://www.laciaudeltornavento.it/ita)
For Dinner: Piazza Duomo, Alba
Chef Enrico Crippa lets nature and local produce—some grown as nearby as the restaurant’s own vegetable garden—inspire his culinary vision. Crippa owns the establishment together with the Ceretto family, who are known for producing some of the finest wines in the Piedmont region. As a result, the master sommeliers at Piazza Duomo are experts at pairing the perfect wine to accompany specialities like roast lamb loin from Valle Stura with goat cheese and salted lemon or agnolotti with three meats.
WHAT TO DO
Taste the Region’s Wines
Family-run Paolo Scavino in Castiglione Falletto is one of the best locations in Piedmont for harvesting the Nebbiolo grape, the variety responsible for Barolo’s intense and powerful flavor. And after a few sips of Paolo Scavino’s wines, you’ll understand a) why the winery has been in business for 90 years long; and b) Barolo has been commonly referred to as “the wine of kings, the king of wines.”
Hunt for Truffles
White truffles are found in only a few places in the world, which is why they can command prices of $2000 per pound or more (much costlier than the black variety). For centuries, the Piedmontese have been hunting these delicacies, and you can participate in the age-old tradition with a “trifolau” (a truffle hunter) and his trusty truffle hound (pigs are no longer used). Note: Expeditions are often planned for the evening, as it allows for the dog to focus on the precious scent rather than on visual distractions.
Get Up in the Air
It’s impossible to take in all of Piedmont’s sprawling natural beauty from ground level—so why not expand your perspective by getting the view from above? You’ll soar leisurely above the vineyards, ancient villages, weathered castles that dot the hills of the Langhe. Perfect for photographers and dreamers alike. Most flights take off in the early morning.
Explore the Countryside in Style
To climb into a new Ferrari or Lamborghini, all you need is do is splurge. But snaring a rare vintage ride is much more difficult. Fischer’s experts will source a 1960s Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a 1950s Jaguar XK Roadster or other exquisitely maintained vehicle for you and deliver to your hotel driveway. You’re sure to turn heads as you cruise the winding roads of the Lenghe.
Photos: Courtesy of Soutirage
Tour A Winery with a True Insider
Angelo Gaja, owner of the Gaja Winery, is one of the most powerful and celebrated figures in today’s wine world—he’s credited with revolutionizing winemaking in Italy. Located in Barbaresco, the Gaja estate produces Barbaresco and Barolo wines, but it also excels in non-Piedmontese varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Guided by Gaia Gaja, Angelo’s daughter who currently runs the business, you’ll hear about the family’s rich history and tour the winery with the most expert of sources.
Visit a Private Truffle Market
Once a year, epicureans and chefs from all over the world flock to the Piedmontese province of Alba for the International White Truffle Fair (it’s held from Oct. 6-Nov. 11 this year). But leave it to Fischer Travel experts to find a way to take the experience up a notch. Led by a guide, you’ll be taken to a secret, subterranean vault to view something that few mortals will ever see: trays of truffles waiting to be sold to local and international restaurants. You’ll receive an intensive truffle education on the tour—you’ll get to taste different varieties, and you’ll learn how to select the best truffle, based on its weight, size and aroma.