Langa Astigiana in and around Monastero Bormida
The Astigiana area of the Bormida Valley is almost all gathered around the hill of Bric Puschera (852 mt.), enclosed in the embrace of the two Bormida rivers which meet not far away, in Bistagno.
A breathtaking scenery is revealed with every bend where, on the one hand, visitors are spellbound by the view over the Alessandria plain and by the pattern of the many pre-Appenine valleys reminiscent of an embroidered lace and, on the other hand, they are mesmerized by the other Langhe hills which lie in front of its gullies and are protected by its towers.
Our itinerary starts at the bottom of the valley which at first glance seems sunken and dark, as if to make the magnificent Castle of Monastero Bormida shine, with its medieval humpback bridge and the charm of a village that still echoes its past glories. Augusto Monti, Pavese's teacher at the D'Azeglio high school in Turin, was born in Monastero Bormida. A must-see is the grand historical Polentone (similar events are also held in Cassinasco, Bubbio, Roccaverano and Ponti), a traditional festival which combines rites and meanings dating back to ancient times.
The route goes past the rural village of Sessame and up through fragrant woods and unique viewpoints (above all Roncogennaro) to Cassinasco (it. Langa of Moscato), now on the ridge of the Belbo Valley, and then go down again into the Bormida Valley to Bubbio, a lovely rural village, with its neo-Gothic Castle and beautiful sculptures by Swiss patron Quirin Meyer.
Next, we cover a short stretch along the valley floor to get to Cessole, a very steep, almost vertical village, as can be seen by the curious two-storey Church of the village. From here, we plunge back into the most unspoilt countryside, towards the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Neve. Further on, there is the small Chapel of the Madonna del Deserto from where we go down to Tarditi and finally climb up the wide and fertile hill of Roccaverano.
The small capital of the Langa Astigiana, Roccaverano(it. Langa Astigiana in and around Roccaverano), awaits us with its characteristic square overlooked by the Bramantesque Church, the marquis' Palace and the imposing 36-metre cylindrical Tower.
The itinerary continues from here and leads us to the perfect square Tower of Vengore which has been controlling the Spigno Bormida valley for eight centuries and then, instead of going down to Denice, we turn towards the Tatorba valley and return to Monastero Bormida (between Roccaverano and Vengore there are several beautiful paths descending towards Tatorba).
These routes reach some of the best producers of Robiola di Roccaverano and it is worth spending whole afternoons there exploring and tasting, including - as a bonus - the spectacular evening milking of the lively goats.
Texts by Pietro Giovannini
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Point of interest along the way
5 Via Roma