The delights of Italy are almost inexhaustible. The region of Piedmont lies in the northwest of the country, bordered by France and Switzerland. I have driven through the area many times on my way from the Côte d’Azur to the Italian Lakes, but last fall I decided to spend 10 days searching for new hideaways and sampling the great wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. I timed my trip to coincide with October/November truffle season, when the charming town of Alba holds its annual White Truffle Fair. One of the principal reasons for a trip to Piedmont is its sublime food and wine — Enrico Crippa’s three-star restaurant in Alba, Piazza Duomo, provided one of the finest meals of my life, and the international Slow Food movement is based in the little Piedmont town of Bra — but there is also the beauty of the architecture and landscape to be savored, plus the civilized pleasures of the surprisingly elegant city of Turin to be enjoyed. I can honestly say that in 35 years of travel, 10 days have seldom been better or more pleasurably spent.
This issue also contains a comprehensive update on one of my favorite North American cities: Chicago. In addition to staying in a fine new hotel, The Langham, I revisited some of the leading restaurants, making notable discoveries in the process. And I also found time to renew my acquaintance with the groundbreaking architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as the iconic American paintings — Edward Hopper's “Nighthawks” and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” — in the world-class Art Institute of Chicago. There were many good reasons I chose to open the Andrew Harper Travel Office in Chicago, but one primary motivation was my deep affection for this great metropolis and my unquenchable desire to return.