The Slow Food Town

The unassuming Piemontese town of Bra is the best-kept secret of food lovers globally. Among the traditional food-producing landscapes of Langhe, it makes perfect sense that the headquarters for Slow Food are tucked away here.  

If you’re unfamiliar with Slow Food, then the easiest way to describe it is as the distinct opposite of fast food! Italian journalist Carlo Petrini founded this international not-for-profit grassroots organisation in 1986 as a dissent against the rise of fast food. In doing so, his goal was to defend regional traditions, the pleasure of food, and the slow pace of life. Petrini believed that food should be good, clean, and fair for all, and these continue to be the core values of the movement today. You’ll now find these principles being championed in over 160 countries, organised by local groups known as convivia.  

With the Alps in the distance, Bra may just be the perfect place to start this think global, act local food revolution. You’ll find Slow Food’s conscious, appreciative pace reflected in every crumb of life in this rural town - from the gelatarias, macellerie (butchers), and cafés that proudly display the snail insignia, the symbol of the movement, to all the genial chatter about small-scale local producers from residents. In fact, the best way to absorb this unhurried culture is with an al fresco cappuccino, or simply strolling its Baroque streets.
Alba is just a 25-minute drive away and is more renowned thanks to its annual truffle fair, but Bra holds its own principal event. The biennial Slow Cheese Festival welcomes guests to celebrate natural, artisanal dairy products, including the prized local cattle breed of razza piemontese.  

The region is similarly accustomed to students from across the world, as Slow Food boasts its own prestigious, international University of Gastronomic Sciences, located on the former royal estate of King Carlo Alberto of Savoy in nearby Pollenzo. In this sprawling campus, you can stay at a historic hotel, Albergo dell'Agenzia, where the beautifully restored rooms feel fit for royalty. In Bra, you’ll reignite your love for good food. 


You’re spoilt for choice with places to eat in and around Bra, from street food vendors and cafés serving porchetta sandwiches, to fine dining restaurants serving five-course meals. Feast on regional cuisine always made with fresh, unadulterated, ingredients in Albergo dell'Agenzia’s chic Garden Restaurant.  

For the ultimate Slow Food dining experience, book a table at the family-owned courtyard tavern of Osteria Boccondivino, where you can feast on local specialities, including decadent roasted meats and the antipasti speciality of vitello tonnato, a sliced cold veal dish in a tuna and anchovy sauce. Be sure to try its renowned 40 egg yolk tajarin pasta with butter and sage.  


An unexpected surprise comes in the aged stone cellars of Albergo dell'Agenzia: la banca del vino (the wine bank), which houses 100,000 bottles of the world’s greatest wine. You can take a guided or self-tour of the cellar and enjoy wine tastings. You can even learn to make your own vermouth, and it would be rude not to purchase a bottle of wine or two to take home with you, wouldn’t it?!  

Just 25 minutes up the road in Piozzo, craft beer enthusiasts can take a tour and tasting at the esteemed Baladin Brewery each Sunday. We highly recommend you try Nazionale, the first 100% craft beer in Italy, or the limited-edition bottles of Riservo Teo.  


If you don’t find the pace here relaxing enough, Albergo dell'Agenzia has its own wellness centre that adopts a Slow Beauty philosophy. There’s also a heated outdoor pool for you to dip into during the summer months.  

Moments from the hotel lies the Cherasco 18-hole golf course, where you can tee-off or simply enjoy club life. If you’d like to learn a few Piemontese dishes, it’s perfectly possible to arrange a cooking class too.  


If you want to purchase the local delicacies, then the university’s bottega alimentare (traditional food shop), Local, is a great place to start. All the products on the shelves have been picked after visiting and getting to know the individual producers. While you’ll mostly find products from Cuneo and the rest of Piedmont, there’s also produce from the rest of Italy, such as olive oil from Liguria.  

Every Sunday, except during the month of August, Bra holds its weekly mercati della terra (earth market), where local farmers sell their produce, including raw-milk sheep and cow cheeses, cured meats, honey and beehive products, hazelnuts, bread, and artisan sweets. Not only is it a great place to pick up a souvenir or two, but you can also take part in some wonderful foodie activities, such as baking workshops or milking sheep! 

Slow Food Presidia

The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity boasts a renowned collection of Slow Food Presidia. More than just showy fine foods, these ingredients are catalogued in order to safeguard them from extinction, as well as preserve the traditional skills and techniques of their production and protect the local environment. These include native breeds, varieties of fruit and vegetables, breads, cheeses, cured meats, and traditional sweets.

Suggested Destinations & Trips

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