The Hils of Ruchè
Along the roads of a niche wine, among the soft hills that slowly slope down to the plain and are cuddled by the reassuring profile of the Alps.
A rediscovered wine, thanks to the insight of a peasant parish priest, Don Giacomo Cauda, who took care of those different bunches of an ancient and neglected vine. The result was surprising and the producers soon followed his advice, and planted new Ruché vine shoots. A wine, therefore, that was born from a dream and that today conquers the most refined palates with a small production, intended for true connoisseurs of excellence. And that is where this loop itinerary will take you, amidst harmonious landscapes and a wealth of history.
"When someone in Castagnole Monferrato offers you some Ruché, it's because they like you”. The starting point is Piazza Statuto, at the foot of the sundial that features this very appropriate motto, beside the Town Hall. You will go back to it once you have ridden through vineyards and villages which have much to tell. A landscape that has changed a lot over the centuries: these hills were once covered by thick chestnut woods, hence the name Castagnole Monferrato, but since the first settlements man decided to adapt them to other crops and in particular to vines. Before you start your journey or on your way back, please don't forget to visit the charming old town centre of Castagnole with its peculiar urban layout that develops in a linear pattern along a ridge. A cluster of houses acting as a sort of junction between Borgo dell'Annunziata and Borgo del Ricet, the fortified shelter.
You cross Via Umberto I and descend onto the SP14 road, which you will leave to turn left onto a secondary, unpaved road. Continue through tidy fields and go uphill, amidst vineyards: a wine press and a winery mark the point where you will find the asphalt road and you will be entering Grana Monferrato, along Via Garrone. Here, an imposing 18th-century parish Church, with its small Museo di Arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art), sits on a large churchyard and offers an excellent panoramic viewpoint that stretches across the Monferrato as far as the Alps. Leave the village along Corso Garibaldi, at the end of which you turn right and immediately afterwards, turn left at the electrical substation.
There is one more stretch of dirt road until you reach Strada Santa Maria, where the asphalt returns and you will pass through a few hamlets of Grazzano Badoglio. A detour to the left, sometimes unpaved and sometimes asphalted, but always surrounded by a harmonious landscape and gentle slopes, and you will be on the secondary loop that will take you to Moncalvo: the smallest village in Italy, with its charming old town and valuable art collections. You leave the village along Strada Pozzetta, which reconnects you with the dirt road you travelled previously and the varied countryside will guide you to Grazzano Badoglio.
Between the 12th and 14th centuries, Moncalvo was the home of the Benedictine Abbey of Saints Vittore and Corona, founded by Aleramo in 961, whose bell tower and cloister today still survive in the current parish Church, where it is possible to see the tomb of the legendary first Marquis of Monferrato. Take a detour to the right along Via Mameli (towards the cemetery) to admire the landscape from the Big Bench and then return to the junction marked by the Church of San Sebastiano to join Strada Fittaria.
Woods, cultivated fields and vineyards provide the perfect setting to take you to Casorzo Monferrato where another prestigious wine makes its entrance: Malvasia. Soon afterwards, a detour along a dirt road from Provincial Road SP 14 will take you to Viarigi, with its distinctive terraces rising up to where the 12th-century tower stands. Go back towards the cemetery and continue to the left along a small road that will take you to the entrance of Montemagno: a village with a medieval plan, quite unique in the Basso Monferrato area, still clearly visible today thanks to its twelve alleyways that radiate out from the medieval castle which, with its crenellated towers, is by far one of the most charming (private) manors in the whole province.
Next, you leave along Via S. Croce and continue amidst the stunning natural landscape until you reach the first houses of Castagnole Monferrato and return to your starting point.
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way