The Langa of Dolcetto
Dogliani, which has always been at the centre of the small Rea valley with its jagged hills on the sides, the woods of the Bossola Pass (see itinerary Alta Langa of Belbo) in the background and the Tanaro river ahead, lives in a world of its own.
Dolcetto, an intimately Langhe grape variety and wine, is lightly aromatic, with low acidity and tannins, and can be paired gently with the endless theory of traditional hors d'oeuvres, with which it really gets on very well. You can taste it at the Bottega del Vino (local Wine Shop) in downtown Dogliani. The landscape is ever-changing and fascinating, to the extent that President Einaudi was eager to hide here, far away from the affairs of state, to tend his vineyards with painstaking care and love.
The route starts in Dogliani, lovely and animated centre, where it’s possible to admire the works of Schellino, the “Gaudì of the Langhe”, eclectic architect with its unique style. After a stroll without any rush through Borgo and Castello, the two areas of the centre, and a wine tasting at the Bottega del Vino (local Wine Shop), we can admire a beautiful series of smaller villages.
Next we head towards Monchiero, whose upper village, with its monastery and a few houses nearby, is a masterpiece of romanticism that also spellbound the great painter Eso Peluzzi (today there are still a house-museum, a tomb and a permanent exhibition).
A detour should definitely be made to the archaeological site of Augusta Bagiennorum, a Roman city set between the current Bene Vagienna and Narzole, where the evocative theatre is still in use during the summer festival, whereas much of the village is yet to be discovered. Roman vestiges and an old town with plenty of palaces and churches make Bene Vagienna a lovely place to wander around and savour the atmosphere of a village with vineyards in the background and the plain just ahead.
From Monchiero it is up to go up to Monforte d’Alba (see itinerary Langa of Barolo) and explore the hamlets of San Sebastiano, San Giacomo, Santa Lucia and San Luigi, along a maze of ridge routes and farmsteads where it is quite funny to lose your way and find a new one which is just as beautiful: it is one of the less visited and more fascinating wine landscapes in the whole Langa. The best ridge is perhaps the one that, starting from Sant'Anna di Monforte d’Alba and passing through Rinaldi, continues through San Bartolomeo and San Fereolo (a delightful little panoramic church) to San Luigi, and then goes back to the village.
From Monforte d’Alba we climb up to the tiny village of Cissone (the birthplace of one of Piedmont's greatest cabinet-makers, Luigi Prinotto) walking past the beautiful cemetery church of the Nativity (15th-century fresco) to get to Serravalle Langhe (see itinerary Alta Langa of Belbo), where you should visit the Oratorio di San Michele with Tremlett's modern contaminations set next to 15th-century frescoes. Our trail continues as a sort of roller coaster always on the ridge in-between forgotten hamlets (such as the surreal Paradiso hamlet), solitary little churches (San Lorenzo, Madonna della Neve, San Martino) and fairytale views.
And so we reach Somano, another timeless village surrounded by woods, then we get to Bossolasco (see itinerary Alta Langa of Belbo), and finally we reach the isolated hermitage of Bonvicino.
The steep Lovera path climbs up to the hamlet and then, from here, it climbs up more gently to Murazzano (see itinerary Alta Langa of Tanaro), "Shield and key of Piedmont", walking past the only windmill in the Langhe and then going down along the ridge to Belvedere Langhe where, on the second Sunday after Easter, one of the most beautiful sacred celebrations in the Langa takes place: the Festa dei Micun. Last but not least, we should stop at the tiny Church of San Colombano (in the hamlet of Casale) which preserves some surprising 16th-century frescoes.
From Belvedere Langhe, just like the merchants of yesteryear who had many different routes to choose from, we descend and go back to Dogliani.
Texts by Pietro Giovannini
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