Via del Mare Astigiano Trail - Leg 1
The Via del Mare starts in Isola d'Asti, close to the concentric (hamlet of Molini) and, in particular, in the point in which it is possible to climb to one of the most charming hamlets that offer a particular view of the valley, the so-called ‘Villa’ of Isola.
The road goes along a steep site and already subject to landslide movements, where it is interesting to observe the forest and the panorama that gradually opens up to the view. On arrival at Isola Villa, you can reach Piazza Giuseppe Gallo, panoramic and picturesque point to observe a vast area of territory of the Tanaro river. The change in the landscape is evident, between the area of the plain, heavily infrastructural and urbanised, and the hill, where the historic centre of this town offers glimpses of particular and characteristic beauty.
The landscape will maintain this characteristic, continuing towards Mongardino (275 m a.s.l.) through the hamlet of San Sebastiano, where the road, paved but little travelled, allows to arrive to the town of Roman origin, whose historical events are told in the book of one of its most illustrious citizens, Alfredo Don Bianco. The landmark in the hamlet of San Sebastiano is the chapel, placed at the crossroads, stopping and meeting point for the residents.
The hamlet of Madonna is interesting, characterised by a 19th century church with bell tower in bricks alongside the rectory. Immediately after the hamlet, after 1 km, you resume your journey through the vine-covered hills, typical of this area, which almost entirely cover the undulating slopes of the hills between Mongardino and Vigliano. Continuing along the route, you reach the municipality of Vigliano, at an altitude of 220 m a.s.l., where the hamlet of Valmontasca is located, important geo-site characterised by numerous fossil outcrops. The most famous is that of 1959 which brought to light the fossil skeleton of a Pliocene whale of 8 m, in good conditions of conservation and completeness.
The fossil is currently preserved in the geology and Palaeontology institute of the University of Turin.
The territories present in this area of Asti are of Pliocene origin and have become famous for the numerous fossil findings of large and small size which have helped to considerably expand local history. The ridge towards the hamlet of Sabbionera, presents remarkable views of landscape interest and it is characterised, again, for the vineyards mixed with forest, along the steepest slopes. Next to the hamlet of Sabbionera the itinerary allows one Variant (1A). The variant allows to arrive in Montegrosso - Montaldo and has a second point of connection with the itinerary in the area of Cascina Massiri.
The next section of the itinerary, after 2 km, crosses the town of Montemarzo: the centre is a good example of a recurring building system in the area of Asti with ridge aggregation, for which the main road is unifying element and where, in fact, you find all access points due to the conformation of the hill. Along the way to Azzano, it is worth stopping, to be totally immersed in greenery, to see the remains of a semi abandoned chapel, in an interesting place from a panoramic point of view. We arrive to Azzano d’Asti, the end point of this first stage that is characterised by a change in landscape for a gradual increase in the cultivated and wooded areas and a reduction in the vineyards, primarily for a change in the slopes and the morphological characteristics of the hill, which the road travels in good conditions. The territory of Azzano is characterised by the presence of the Tanaro river, which mainly characterises the landscape and the morphological conformation: low sandy hills that become flatter south of the river, hills where the poplar is the main and most widespread tree. The historic centre of the village is of particular historical and cultural interest thanks to the documentary sources related to the territory. The origin of the hamlet goes back to the 12th century, a period in which there is the first written historical documentary trace that mentions the presence of a castle.
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way