GTL on a MTB - Variant 2B
Another variant of the GTL, this route starts in Cortemilia for a fascinating, educational journey through the terraced vineyards and related ecomuseum, the Ecomuseo dei Terrazzamenti e della Vite, as you climb in the direction of Monte Oliveto.
From the centre of Cortemilia, once you have passed the Town Hall, cross the Uzzone river (signage for Serole – Monte Oliveto). After 150 metres, turn left and follow the signs for Pieve – Monte Oliveto until you pass Rio della Madonna. Soon, on your left, you will find the monument erected around Pieve’s ancient Romanesque church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and which dates back to the 11th century. This is one of the most interesting and most valuable works of architecture in the entire Bormida Valley, particularly for its façade (with its sandstone, high-relief lunette depicting the Virgin Mary and a mullioned window with early Gothic influences) and its elegant apse, as well as for its impressive Romanesque bell tower at the centre of the building. Apparently, St. Francis himself stopped here on one of his many evangelical journeys, as evidenced, in part, by the presence of the former Franciscan Monastery. The itinerary continues to the right. Soon, near a stone archway, you will head up to the left (sign for Monte Oliveto) following the old route through the terraced hillside surrounding the farmhouse, which is now the site of the Ecomuseo dei Terrazzamenti e della Vite. Continue up through some of the oldest and best maintained terraces along the old stone path until you reach the paved road from before. Cross this road and continue slightly uphill along Strada Piazze until you find a group of houses. The road bends to the left, through the courtyards, and continues on to an evident crossroads.
We recommend continuing to the left, along the vineyards, and then keep to the right at the next couple of forks in the road. Continue on to a paved road along the crest of the hill. Turn right here, along the flat, until you reach a picturesque farmhouse. Just before a large water basin, turn left along a dirt road and head up towards the crest of the hill. Follow the crest to the right along the edge of vast hazelnut groves, pass a cell tower and continue on to a paved road. Turn to the right along a road that, at times, runs along the edge of some lovely woods and continue on to Via Serole, a paved, flat road.
After just a few metres, turn to the left on a dirt road that will bend to the right and follow along the crest of the hill. You will pass an isolated farmhouse and a few cell towers as you head to the summit of Bric della Croce, a vista point overlooking the Bormida Valley and the Langa Astigiana. Before you, you will see the medieval village of Perletto and its unmistakable stone tower. Definitely deserving of a leisurely visit, Perletto is another lovely village of stone with vaulted entryway and homes arranged in a circle, Perletto rests on the hillside in a position that enabled it to coordinate the sighting system of the Del Carretto Family, which ran from the Cortemilia tower on up to San Giorgio, Olmo Gentile, Roccaverano and on to Vengore, Denice and Merana. The towers in this area are like a treasure that is, in part, yet to be discovered, but the one here in Perletto is topped off with a powerful statue of the Virgin Mary, which gives it the look of a monumental bell tower. The medieval castle, which was largely refurbished (if not entirely rebuilt) in the 19th century, frequently hosted Vittorio Emanuele II, a great enthusiast of hunting when he would come to the Roccaverano estate. The remains of a Romanesque chapel also testify to the age of this village, as does the remarkable, 17th century Church of Sant’Antonino, now a cemetery church, but once the main church of the village.
Around the town’s houses there are numerous stone terraces for the grapevines that produce the sought-after Dolcetto dei Terrazzamenti wine, a heroically micro-produced wine promoted by the association of the same name, which also promotes the Ecomuseo dei Terrazzamenti in Cortemilia on the Monteoliveto hilltop overlooking Perletto in a sort of infinite interplay of “mirrors of stone”.
For the return trip, if you prefer not to retrace your steps all the way, once you are back on Via Serole, follow this road along the flat to the left for a few dozen metres until you find a small chapel with a lovely adjacent rest area. Turn right here and head down along a dirt road, then keep to the left at the first fork in the road until you reach a large farmhouse. Turn left on the paved road and then, at an evident crossroads in the woods, make a sharp right onto a dirt road. After passing a lovely, restructured home, continue along a hazelnut grove and a water basin. Continuing along a stony section of road featuring an old support wall, you will return to the outbound route near Piazze. Continue along this leisurely route in the opposite direction to return to Cortemilia.
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way