Asti Alba via Langhe
Two-hundred towers in two, a long and fickle river, in between the splendid hills of Langhe Monferrato Roero. Asti and Alba: enemies - friends, practically promised partners. This is not a movie, although it could well be. It is the story of two cities that, for centuries, waged war against each other and only in the most challenging moments found harmony and joined forces to defeat a greater enemy. History repeats itself, alliances and diatribes that have marked the course of events for centuries.
This is a straight trail which can be combined with the ALBA - ASTI via Roero route and, therefore, can turn into a loop. It is 51 km long and will take you along roads that have been trodden for centuries by troops and banners, by knights and noble commanders: ups and downs full of history, among landscapes that have never lost their charm and many small, industrious villages with castles and manor houses which underline the strategic role of these hills.
The starting point of this wonderful trail, which begins in the hills of Asti and moves into the Langhe, is the huge Campo del Palio square in Asti. Leave the city and head south along Corso Savona. The Tanaro river is wide here and has just joined the Borbore, increasing the flow of its waters by no small margin. You will also cross the overpass on the ring road and immediately turn left towards Torrazzo. One of the many reasons behind the beauty of Asti is certainly the fact that in just a few minutes, from the rich and historic old town, you can immerse yourself in a lively, industrious countryside characterized by ancient rhythms and flavours.
The trail here is flat and, from spring onwards, comes alive with bales of hay that perfume the air and are ready to become fodder for the cows that you will soon come across as you travel along the SP15 road (to the right after the level crossing at Torrazzo). The first slopes begin to emerge and, passing through Frazione Serra, you will reach Mongardino. The trail continues outside the village on Via San Pietro, but if you have time, you can make a detour to the bowls club to enjoy the view and see some elderly people bravely engaged at all hours in one of the most traditional local games.
You keep on riding and zigzag through the landscapes of Mongardino and San Marzanotto. At the junction to Vigliano d'Asti you continue along the SP45 road and after a few bends, halfway down, turn left onto the small road marked Frazione San Marzanotto to enter the Isola d'Asti area and reach Isola Villa along Via Campo del Frate. From the Churchyard of San Pietro, you can admire the Tanaro valley and the Roero rising on the other bank. A steep descent takes you to the junction with the SP 456: cross it carefully and continue straight on towards Repergo.
Continue along the SP 64 road until you reach Strada Lazzaretto and, while surrounded by vineyards, you will come across the small Chapel of San Grato. Next, follow Strada San Michele and enter the municipality of Costigliole d'Asti and then, along Strada Carrobbio, you will reach the SP 51 road. A few metres downhill and turn left at the traffic lights to enter the city centre, which welcomes you with its white turreted castle, worthy of a fairytale and worth admiring while enjoying a break in the nearby park.
Leave the castle behind you and descend from Via Verasis to join the SP 41 road on the valley floor: after a few metres on a busy road you turn immediately right onto Strada Castelletto where a giant bench surrounded by vineyards awaits you to enjoy a panoramic break. You travel just a bit more uphill and you reach Frazione Annunziata, where you continue on the SP39 road to enter Castagnole Lanze, right on the border between Langhe and Monferrato and where the Romans had traced the passage of a road branch of the Via Emilia that used to connect Acqui to Pollenzo (Pollentia). The symbol of the village is the watchtower that stands out in the Parco della Rimembranza (Remembrance Park): built in 1880 by the military technology scholar Count Paolo Ballada of Saint Robert.
It's back uphill again, but it's an effort that will be repaid with the entrance to Neive with its old town steeped in history, rightly included among the most beautiful villages in Italy, where you can set out on the trail of the "Donna Selvatica" (Wild Woman), the friendly character who lives on the labels of the renowned Levi distillery.
Leave Neive and join the SP3 road: five kilometres through a harmonious stretch of vineyards and soon you will be in Barbaresco. Here you will see, to your left, a deconsecrated church which houses the Enoteca Regionale (Regional Wine Shop) and, with a small detour, you can reach the splendid Barbaresco Tower, from the top of which you can enjoy a priceless view over the Tanaro valley and the surrounding hills. You will be wandering through a sea of vineyards that will produce future Barbaresco wines, which you may taste in the comfort of your living room. However, those notes of fine wine will remind you of these landscapes which in spring/summer explode with shades of green, which in autumn embrace you with warm nuances and in winter, when the hills are covered in snow, you will have the sensation of riding between the lines of an endless score, where the vines draw notes, sharps and treble clefs.
The last 10 km will take you to Pertinace, always amidst stunning views and ups and downs and, as you descend further, the villas of the Alba suburbs start to prevail over the farmhouses. Next, you will reach Piazza Monsignor Grassi and from there Alba's old town.
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way
Corso Luigi Einaudi
Piazza Michele Ferrero