Family Outings - Parco Forestale dell'Alberone
A walk in a wood marked by the presence of spontaneous botanical scents typical of the hills and wooden architectural structures which allow pleasant breaks made precious thanks to interesting information boards about the local flora and fauna.
From the centre of Cocconato, one of the "Most Beautiful Villages” in Italy and Orange Flag of TCI, you drive along Via Liprandi/SP20 towards Casale; when the road turns sharply downhill to the right you have to leave it and take a small road to the left (Strada Mondo for satellite maps). The road is narrow but short and, although it seems to lead into a private house, it takes you to the car park right at the beginning of the Forest Park.
You can access to the park through the wooden pedestrian entrance next to the reception, this is the first of the wooden and glass structures that will characterize the path. Similar to a tree house, its interior shows the Park project and its philosophy with maps and an in-depth analysis highlighting the peculiarity of the area: that is to present, through special nameplates, the typical native trees of the hill.
You continue along the grassy track to the left which passes right in front of the little wooden house and which, with a gradual and steady descent, take you to a first junction. Continue left downhill ("via del lago" sign), but keep this place in mind as you will reach it again on the way back. You continue your descent and walk through beech trees, cherry trees, prunes, hawthorns, walnuts etc... You need to read each nameplate sign to learn everything about the spontaneous natural world of the peculiar environment of Monferrato.
After a wooden bridge the descent is gradual and you reach the lowest point of the entire loop: the pond on which there is a second wooden structure with a large table for educational activities and snacks; a sort of pile-dwelling bridge allows you to cross the small lake basin in full. If you look up you can also see the third structure you are going to reach.
Now it is time to start climbing on a wide and well-traced track, with some sharp bends which are always marked with signs identifying the main trees. A short descent introduces the third wooden structure with a panoramic view of the small valley that houses the lake, overlooked by the hill of Cocconato where the parish church is located.
The climb is more gradual and takes you to a junction: a steep grassy track to the right leads to a panoramic hillock. However, if you walk with prams, it is better to stay on the main road to the left and get to this ridge through the following junction ("via del sole" sign).
Up on the hillock you follow the clearly visible track that quickly takes you to the junction you have already crossed at the beginning, from here you can return to the reception with one final climb.
The Forest Park was born from an idea of Professor Giuseppe Conrotto with the support of Mrs. Graziella and her children as well as the scientific support of Dr. Simone Lonati. Admission is free from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. (www.lalberone.it).
A playground area is available in Cocconato, near the ramparts of Corso Pinin Giachino.
You should not miss a walk in the heart of Cocconato, among the medieval arcades of the Town Hall, whereas on the fourth Sunday of September the Palio degli Asini (Donkey race) is scheduled, where donkeys do not have to carry anyone on their back. The participants in fact have to run on foot and encourage the friendly animals, and on top of that there is a historical parade.
Franco Voglino and Annalisa Porporato
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way