The hamlets of Alba
Just outside the old town, there is a kind of Alba that is unknown to most people because as it is outside the exquisite city boundaries. Historically, the city does not have the typical structure like the Asti’s hamlets, the “ventine, but there are some fine examples worthy of consideration. An unusual stop on the way to the Langa or Roero hills.
On the route from Piazza Ferrero (formerly Piazza Savona) up towards the Alta Langa, near Corso Langhe, we find the Romanesque Church (13th century) of Santa Margherita di Antiochia (set right at the end of the homonymous street) where the remains of one of the few surviving extra muros churches can be seen. Of particular interest is the semicircular apse enhanced with three single-lancet windows and some small arches at the top. The structure is part of the modern Parish Church of Santa Margherita.
In San Cassiano, on the way out of Alba towards the Langa del Barolo, a stop at the ancient Abbey of San Frontiniano, whose abbot governed many lands in the Langa, is a must. (San Frontiniano was a proto-martyr executed together with his companion San Cassiano in the year 311 just outside the town: it is believed that the abbey stands on the site of the execution). Today it is a private building in which, however, the proportions of the monastery, the bell tower and even an exterior fresco from the 15th century are still clearly visible. In Fenoglio's chronicle, the abbey, along with the villa of Castelgherlone and the hill of Santa Rosalia, are also the scene of the desperate battle against the Fascists who eventually re-conquer Alba, thus ending the 23 days of the Free Republic. Part of the town's archaeological trail is also visible in San Cassiano. It preserves, at the level of the foundations, a complex of funerary monuments of different types that can be traced back to the southern necropolis of the Imperial Roman period which developed along the road that led from Alba Pompeia to Pollentia ( today's Pollenzo- it. The Baroque “taste” of Bra) and Augusta Bagiennorum (currently Bene Vagienna - it. The Langa of Dolcetto).
Once you are in the car, there is still time to enjoy Alba in its rural hamlets, which already stretch into the pure Langa hills. And while Altavilla, with its beautiful villas on the hills, is still a small town in itself, San Rocco Seno d'Elvio is already a Barbaresco DOCG; the Madonna di Como hill, on the other hand, is like a cable car of vineyards in the sky. Heading towards the Roero (it. Roero of Bra e it. Roero of Canale), you will also spot the village of Scaparoni on top of the hill, an absolute archetype of any country hamlet, with a church and a few houses almost surrounding it. Finally, on the way to Canale and then Turin, it is impossible not to see the austere and modern structure of the Church of the Transfiguration in Mussotto, which, not only is appreciated for its tent-like form, but also preserves works by the famous French painter Arcabas.
All these attractions can only enhance our visit, immersing us in the everyday life of the inhabitants of this city that is so welcoming and rich in treasures.
Text by Pietro Giovannini
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way
Via Luigi Einaudi