Pollenzo is a tiny town near Bra, 14 km from Alba in the Southern Piedmont. Once it was one of numerous Sabaudian residence, presently it’s one of the most important gastronomic centers in Europe. When for the first time I saw buildings in red brick gathered together in one place I had an impression to be in a land of gingerbread houses…
The complex is situated in a picturesque area, near Tanaro river and bordering with a vast park. It owes its present appearance to works started in 1832 on the order of the king Carlo Alberto. An old castle from 14th century, once the heart of borgo, gained Neo-Gothic style as well as the church or the tower guarding a spacious square with monumental fountain in the middle. In the past it was a rural property, a modern farm at that time. On the vast estate there was not only an up-to-date winery but also numerous experiments on increasing improvement in agriculture were carried. What is interesting, the king Vittore Emanuele III lived there after its abdication for the benefit of his son Umberto II (the last monarch of Italy) and in May 1946 gained the title of the count of Pollenzo.
Till the late 1990s the estate was in ruin and only thanks to Slow Food initiative a renovation process started and new ideas regarding this forgotten place born. In 2004 the University of Gastronomic Science (Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche) was established and today educates future gastronomic experts.
Another interesting project is la Banca del Vino, it’s an extraordinary place and it’s worth to be visited for all wine lovers. In 19th century cells once the experiments on improvements red wine production methods were carried, presently it hosts an important collection of the best labels of the Apennine Peninsula. You can find there over 100 000 bottles from 300 Italian vineries, rare and difficult to be find rarities included. La Banca del Vino despite being a vendor it also organize different courses and wine tastings.