Family Outings - Moncalvo, Truffle Trail
A hike that, with a swinging course, pleasantly takes you from the panoramic castle of Moncalvo through vineyards and cultivated fields to discover the agricultural world of Monferrato amid stunning landscapes.
Piazza Carlo Alberto is already impressive for its huge size and then you discover that it stands on what used to be one of the largest fortified complexes in the area. Before you begin your hiking tour, we suggest you go up to the Belvedere Bonaventura, whose access is under the arcades near the playground (fountain). The staircase climbs up to the top of the tower offering a panoramic all-round view on the surrounding hills, while an additional metal staircase leads to an even higher small tower.
After enjoying the magnificent view of the hills, you go back to Piazza Carlo Alberto, walking through all the arcades. If you pay attention, on the opposite side (at no. 23), you can see a grey façade with some "strange" inscriptions: it is the façade of the former Synagogue built in 1700. The curious thing is that very rarely did Jewish sites stand out like this on a public square, as if to underline the importance of this community in past centuries. The importance is emphasised by the presence, south of Moncalvo, of a Jewish cemetery which is still in use today.
Near the square, which is almost a continuation of the square itself, the arcades end and Piazza Garibaldi appears and is surrounded by historic houses and small shops. Continue to the right along Via Cissello until you are in front of the Palazzo Comunale where you will find the Moncalvo Civic Museum. A little further on, still walking along Via Cissello, take the ramp to the right which will take you down to Corso Regina Elena, a panoramic avenue from where you can enjoy a view overlooking the hills including the Sacro Monte di Crea.
You continue your walk on asphalt to the left and then, always keeping left, at the first junction (red/white signs) you go uphill along the tree-lined avenue. Once you are back among the houses turn right (white "polyambulatory" sign), then turn left at the following junction (red/white "505" sign) which takes you towards the sports fields La Valletta. Do not deviate and continue straight on until you reach a larger crossroads, where you turn left ("Strada Gessi" sign) and continue downhill until you reach the isolated church dedicated to St. Peter. The building, also known as "La Pieve", offers on the one hand some restful benches and on the other a cast of a Roman marble slab from the 2nd century AD.
Now take the dirt road that starts just before the holy building and runs through the vineyards up to a farmhouse. Right in front of it you take the dirt road to the left (you will see the red-and-white signs a bit later) which, slightly downhill, leads to the car park of the big Cascina Orsolina. Continue straight on (Strada Bricco Cappuccini), always on a dirt road along a pleasant and bucolic little valley until you reach some other buildings and the asphalt. Do not follow the asphalt and continue straight ahead on the dirt road, now alongside high reeds, until it joins a wider dirt road. You take it to the left and go uphill to arrive on the provincial road. You cross it and continue on the asphalt road, leaving the provincial road behind, and then go uphill again across a few houses.
The road ends at the parish of San Rocco. If the grass allows it you can walk behind the parish, otherwise you go around it and continue along the asphalt, slightly uphill. Soon afterwards you keep to the left ("San Martino" blue sign) always along the asphalt road that runs across the fields. Please pay attention to your left, you will find an uphill dirt road (red/white sign "Moncalvo 505") which, running alongside sunflower fields, reeds and vineyards across the gentle hills, will take you towards the provincial road.
Cross this road too and take Strada Pozzetta, downhill, which overlooks Moncalvo and the North-East hills. The road goes down with a large bend and lower altitude, it goes through some houses and then becomes unpaved again to proceed gently across the fields. Once you arrive near a shed take the dirt road to the left always climbing steeply between the fields and then into the woods to get to an asphalted road. Now turn right, still going uphill, and you will soon pass in front of the cemetery and by following the tree-lined avenue you will reach the church of San Francesco and its small playground.
The road that continues beyond the church leads to Corso XXV Aprile, once you cross it you enter the pedestrian street on Via XX Settembre which, going uphill, brings you back to the centre of the departure square.
An illustrious personage is Guglielmo Caccia, known as "il Moncalvo", also called "Raffaello del Monferrato" (Raphael of Monferrato) for being one of the major exponents of the Counter-Reformation painting art in Piedmont. Born in Montabone (near Acqui Terme) in 1568 he lived and worked mainly in Moncalvo where he died in 1625. Many of his works can be found mainly inside the church of San Francesco, where he is buried.
Moncalvo boasts the Italian Touring Club's Orange Flag (www.bandierearancioni.it).
Franco Voglino and Annalisa Porporato
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way
Via 20 Settembre
Via 20 Settembre