LANGHE, ROERO & MONFERRATO
Unesco declared it in 2014: Langhe, Monferrato and Roero vineyards and landscapes are worth to be awarded as a Common World Heritage of Humankind. Six specific areas, in 29 different
municipalities, were prized for their history and the indissoluble bond between man and environment; this can be a good starting point to begin in the discovery of a richness bigger than Piedmont’s borders, an actual worldwide sized patrimony.
Here are the six zones, each one carrying its own specificity: to take the most out of it we recommend careful explorations through the vineyards, wine tastings experiences and visits in
various cellars. Don’t fall into believing that one area will be similar to another one: Langhe’s wines are various, different, carriers of interesting and stratified cultures.
A – The Langa del Barolo (Barolo, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto, La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Novello, Diano d’Alba) enhances the most famous Langhe’s product: visiting the Castle in Barolo is a must do, in order to get know a bit more.
B – Grinzane Cavour’s Castle, in the small namesake village, is the house for the Piedmont’s Regional wine display, and Ethnographic museum of the Langhe region.
C – Barbaresco’s hills (Barbaresco,Neive, Treiso, Alba), where Nebbiolo grape grows and Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto and Nebbiolo are produced.
D – Nizza Monferrato and Barbera (Montegrosso, Mombercelli, Agliano, Castelnuovo Calcea, Vinchio, Vaglio Serra, Nizza Monferrato).
E – Canelli and Asti spumante (Santo Stefano Belbo, Calosso, Canelli) in Canelli is possible to visit the subterranean cathedrals of the historical cellars of Spumante makers.
F – Monferrato’s Infernot (Cella Monte, Ozzano Monferrato, Sala Monferrato, Rosignano Monferrato, Ottiglio, Olivola, Frassinello Monferrato, Camagna Monferrato, Vignale Monferrato)
infernot are underground basements dug in limestone or tuff, used as home warehouse to store bottles.
1. ASTI, CASALE MONFERRATO AND ALBA
Hard to suggest one in favour of another: the three urban centres of the area are filled in good reasons for a visit. The historical city centre of Alba, Langhe’s capital, it’s middle-age looking with a circular shape: it’s a pleasant walk between the picturesque towers and households bumping into the big churches, the Duomo and San Domenico, one of the most beautiful romanesque-gothic
monuments of Northern Italy. Afterwards it’s almost impossible to resist from trying the white truffle, the most famous product of the land.
Also in Asti truffles and wines are celebrated, but the main event would be the one of Palio, middle-age tradition of a horse competion, run in september. Bigger than Alba, the city holds a
lot of fascinating monuments, such as the impressive collegiata di San Secondo, the astonishing Cathedral, the middle-age complex Rotonda di San Pietro and the lavish Palazzo
Mazzetti, with the local Museo Civico.
Casale Monferrato has the river Po on its side, which, passing through the historical city centre, gives amazing views. Also worth a visit the Duomo, unusually shaped, with a fascinating
interior with zebra’s columns and a starred blue ceiling; the castle and the Bistolfi’s gallery, with the works of the local artist.
Langhe, Roero and Monferrato’s castle can be a good reason to plan an historical and very interesting tour. A part from the not-to-be-missed Barolo and Grinzane Cavour and the one in
Casale Monferrato make sure to pay a visit to Govone, in Roero, baroque with a lavish ball room; the one in Serralunga d’Alba,in Langhe region, remarkable for the view on top of hills
and vineyards; the one in Camino, close to Casale Monferrato, with a nice 15th century courtyard; and yet Pralormo, Mango, Monticello d’Alba.
3. ORANGE FLAG VILLAGES
There are in the area several small villages, all picturesque and beautiful, but some rewarded from Italian Touring Club with the Orange flag. Less then 15 thousand inhabitant sized, those
are small towns where the respect for the environment and the hospitality for tourists go well togheter, high infrastructures quality and well displayed services: virtuous towns where you can
be sure you are not going to feel disappointment. In Langhe, each one to be individually visited to appreciate their specificity, there are 8 orange flags: Bergolo (isolated and panoramic, beautiful); Bene Vagienna (with a surprising roman amphitheater );Cherasco (homeland for open air markets and snails); Neive (fascinating grid of palaces, churches and towers); la Morra (wine and hazelnut land, with an impressive view); Barolo(a must is the wimu in the castle); Grinzane Cavour (with the castle surrounded by vineyards);Monforte d’Alba (the amphitheater square hosts concerts); Cocconato, in Monferrato, has one among the best preserved historical city centers.
4. ROERO’S ROCCHE
Roero is a bit less known then Langhe and Monferrato. On the left side of river Tanaro, it stands in the northeastern side of Cuneo’s province (north from Alba in a map), and it has a preserved
environment, with hills covered in woods and vineyards. The landscape is dominated by the rocche, a series of cliffs and rocks emerging between the vegetation.
We suggest to plan some hiking to fully explore the surroundings, using the Great Roero’s trail, that follows the geological fracture line from Bra to Cisterna d’Asti. It’s the
better way to dive into a green and wild landscape, perhaps around Pocapaglia’s Rocche, the most famous cliffs, and then to the Govone’s castle, with a park that is know for march and april’s blossom of wild tulips.
5. THE TASTE LOCATIONS
Whether you are a gourmet or you just would like to taste something good, Langhe and Monferrato are offering a lot of different suggestions. To be honest, you’ll have a hard time
choosing, since the gastronomical peculiarities of the area are immense, with an incredible variety, and excellence are so spread that they would deserve not ten but a thousand
suggestions. Here you’ll find ours (as they say, de gustibus…). Roccaverano, in Asti’s Langa, it’s a place to visit to sample the delicious goat milk cheese robiola; in Asti and Alba go looking for torrone, nougat prepared with the piedmontese hazelnuts; in Canale, Roero, you’ll find the local variety of peaches, cultivated and sold in a fair in July; in Monferrato you have to try bagna caoda, typical garlic and anchovies sauce, made with local vegetables. And then the boiled ox meal in Carrù and Moncalvo; and white truffles in Alba; the krumiri sweets in Casale; snails and “kisses” in Cherasco…
6. SANCTUARIES AND SACRED MOUNTAINS
Langhe and Monferrato hills are filled in small churches, monasteries, sanctuaries, sacred mountains. Three of them are not-to-be-missed. In Monferrato, not far from Casale, the Sacro Monte
di Crea is composed by one basilica, 23 chapels and 5 pilgrims dormitories around a wooded hill: a monumental complex started in XII century and rebuilt over time, hosting
incredible statues from Flemish artists. Located west from Crea, S. Maria di Vezzolano, is a jewel from late piedmontese Romanesque period, an abbey with inside a rare treasure: a jubé, a marble archway structure decorated with a 1230’s bas-relief .
Near Mondovì, we suggest the impressive santuario di Vicoforte, built between the fifteen and seventeen hundreds, famous for the elliptical dome painted in a 6000 square mts fresco
7. ACQUI’S WATERS
Ancestors of nowadays Acqui’s residents already knew and appreciated the thermal waters of the small town; still today the sulfurous natural water are one of the key reasons for a stop in
Alessandria’s province. It is mandatory to stop by the Bollente, decorated with a fin de siècle dome, a fountain that spills water at 75 °C: symbol of the city, together with the remains of a roman aqueduct used by Romans to bring fresh water in order to mix it with the natural warm one. The Duomo, hosts some interesting things like the 15th century portal in marble, the marvelous crypt and the masterpiece painting called trittico della Madonna del Monserrat.
8. PLACES AND CHARACTERS
Langhe and Monferrato tell stories of a moltitude of characters from literature, history, sport’s world. To those who have specific interests we recommend particular routes, mixing landscapes
and discovery. Some suggestion follows. It would be necessary to start from Cesare Pavese, born1908 in Santo Stefano Belbo, Langhe: between this small town and Canelli’s village there is a multitude of memories, the atmospheres and views depicted in his books. Memories of Beppe Fenoglio can be found in a lot of villages in Langhe. In Asti we follow the steps of Vittorio Alfieri, in Bra those from Giovanni Arpino, in Grinzane Cavour we go through the history of Camillo Benso count of Cavour. Going east, in Novi Ligure, the Museo dei campionissimi will teach us about
the great from the bike race world from Fausto Coppi to Costante Girardengo, locals from the area.
9. ALTA LANGA AND ALTO MONFERRATO
With Alta Langa and Alto Monferrato we indicate the southern lands, bordering with Liguria, where the sweet lower hills close to the river Tanaro leave space to higher and wooded
mountains. Those are less touristic areas, capable of saving wilder views to the curious traveller.
We must follow backwards Belbo and Bormida rivers path to discover the Alta Langa. One route can be departing from Cortemilia, then a stop in Bergolo to reach Saliceto.
For the Alto Monferrato, we can take Borbore’s valley from Asti, discovering S. Damiano d’Asti and Cisterna d’Asti; or wondering between Canelli, Nizza Monferrato eMombaruzzo. Worth a eastern trip the Tortonese area, Novi Ligure, Ovada,Tortona.