GTL on a MTB - Leg 17
This section, too, which leads to a village that was dear to Beppe Fenoglio’s heart, is a part of the Bar to Bar itinerary, so pay close attention to the signage.
Niella Belbo acts as something of a borderline between the realm of hazelnuts and that of the potato (which is the pride and joy of Mombarcaro), but also of note are the area’s cheeses, honey, livestock, and ancient grains, which spatter in gold the green of the hazelnut groves.
From the centre of town, head out in the direction of San Benedetto Belbo and continue along the paved road to the marked fork to the left, which then descends and continues as a dirt road until a fork to the left. From here the path descends into the gorge and then, beyond the ford, heads back up into the woods along a flat cart track to the left. This joins up with the paved local highway to the right in the direction of the hamlet of Sant’Anna, where you take the trail to the left along the wall of the first farmhouse. You will head back up for about a hundred metres and then continue on to the hamlet of Scaroni, where you will take the paved road in the direction of San Benedetto Belbo.
San Benedetto Belbo is a magical, timeless village transported out of the transience of life (the lost castle, the decaying houses, the monastery that is no more) to the eternity of the great literature by the retiring, solitary genius of Beppe Fenoglio, Italy’s greatest author of the post-war era. It is not by chance that the few photos that show Fenoglio smiling are nearly all taken in San Benedetto Belbo, dressed in his Sunday best strolling through the square like an actor on a stage. Indeed, San Benedetto Belbo is now little more than this, a fly tower in which the author manipulates the characters down below in those streets and in those homes.
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way