GTL on a MTB - Variant 9A
A variation of the central hillcrest route of the GTL, this section takes you as far as Albaretto Torre on a circuit that will bring you back to the starting point. This first section of the itinerary stops at Cerretto Langhe.
Leave the village of Serravalle Langhe and follow the main highway to Bossolasco for about 100 metres. At the first crossroads, take the road on the left to the hamlet of Villa and follow along a secondary crest along the Belbo Valley. Ignore a few side roads to the right and pass a farm and, at Castellero, the old church of San Michele Arcangelo, a small jewel that has survived from the old settlement, that features a lovely, Romanesque apse from the 13th century and a vibrant Baroque façade that has recently been restored.
The panoramic road descends gradually to a group of livestock buildings. At the next curve, just outside the hamlet of Villa (the original centre of the village, which is worth a visit), turn to the right onto an ample gravel road that runs down to Cascina Castelvecchio. From the clearing before the courtyard, continue along the dry-stone wall at the left edge for a few metres. As you enter the woods, stay near the crest and then descend through a number of switchbacks. The switchbacks mitigate the descent, but loose rock and a few sections with rock outcroppings in the terrain, looking a bit like stairs, make this section somewhat difficult.
Follow the beaten trail until you reach some abandoned fields surrounding Cascina Barilotto. From the houses, the trail continues to the left along the flat for a long section and then descends quickly to the base of the Belbo Valley.
When you reach the shore of Rio Lavagello, cross the stream carefully and head back up to the left to the next plateau, then take the uphill trail to the right. This trail heads up to the remains of the Lavagello homes.
Continue past these homes and pine trees along a lovely stone path. You will soon come to an easier dirt road. Follow this road to the right, along the hillside, for a long section of false flat, through untamed woods overlooking the Belbo Valley.
When you reach a crossroads, head up to the left for a few metres. Leaving the sunny side behind you, enter the cool of the woods of chestnut and beech trees on the northern face. A few difficult climbs will take you higher again to a modest saddle in the hill, from where you will see the village of Cerretto Langhe atop the next crest. Continue along the flat, then, after a short descent, cross a small stream. The road continues in a wide semi-circle and heads back up the opposite side of the hill. A final section of steep climb will take you to the quaint Sottana square in Cerretto Langhe.
You can’t talk about Cerretto without first talking about “pallapugno” (a.k.a. pallone elastico, or simply balon in the local dialect), a local sport with such a strong tradition. This beautiful stone village features a number of lovely buildings, particularly the Church of Sant’Andrea (circa 13th century) with its Romanesque bell tower and late-Gothic frescos (from the Mondovì school), remnants of a history of wealth and great works of art.
In the 1800s, in place of the destroyed castle, local genius, Giovan Battista Schellino was commissioned to design the village’s new church and brought a bit of his neo-Gothic vision to this medieval town. The building is truly remarkable and brings a bit of majesty back to this mound of earth where once there were towers, ramparts, parapet walkways and bridges.
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way