Family Outings – San Martino, land of silence
Easy walk through a beautiful wood where you can sit on wooden thrones and enjoy the silence and peace, learn to identify birds and meditate in front of the panorama of faraway Monviso from the top of a giant bench.
From the car park along the SP8, 1.7 km from San Martino Alfieri (towards Asti), you go beyond the low wooden fence and pass the welcome signs and coloured gnomes.
You walk into the forest, which is clearly artificial and yet relaxing. It is a truffle-grove that has now become a "silent zone" where you can walk, relax and enjoy the peacefulness of the place. The large trail winds through the trees marked by coloured arrow signs and occasionally by wooden folding signs inviting you to stop and read to learn something about the local birdlife, the trees that help the truffle growth as well as the philosophy of this oasis of relaxation. If you look up you can see several artificial nests which are meant to encourage the birds to enliven the place.
When you reach the first junction you turn right, slightly downhill along the wide track ("Big Bench" sign) which bends to the left. Soon after you find another junction where you turn right and go downhill ("silent zone" sign). You will soon reach a clearing where you can find some seats carved in the trunks, real thrones where you can sit and enjoy the silence and peacefulness of the place...or you can imagine being some elf king with his own court.
After the clearing you follow the "Big Bench" signs, then you move away from the previous descent and go down again towards North-east this time. A steep bend makes you turn left steeply uphill and then downhill again to the edge of the woods. The road bends again to the left and, soon afterwards, to the left again as it starts to climb sharply.
A last bend to the right takes you back to the edge of the forest, where you will find a Big Bench, one of the giant benches designed by artist Chris Bangle and on which you can sit while enjoying the view of Monviso that stands out far away. Once you leave the bench, you skip the junction from which you arrived to go straight ahead and then, after a few steps, you are back on the road you have already taken at the beginning.
When you reach the first junction you crossed, turn right ("parking" sign) and walk through another wooded stretch. Slightly uphill and then downhill, until you finally get to the car park from a different route.
In San Martino Alfieri there is an impressive castle which was turned into a baroque residence at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Still today it preserves the original furnishings of the rooms and a valuable Orangérie (a winter garden). In 1815 the surrounding park was renovated and converted into a romantic English-style garden with artfully sculpted hedges and paths winding up the hillside. Today the castle is property of the Azienda Marchesi Alfieri which offers guided tours through its historical cellars and park as well as a tasting of its finest wines.
Franco Voglino and Annalisa Porporato
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way