First day. Starting point: crossroads of GALLARETO (near to the village of Cerreto d’Asti). Next stops-over: SAN TONCO LOCALITY– VALLUNGA LOCALITY (Piea) – VIALE – CORTANZE – MONTECHIARO D’ASTI (Regione Reale). Length of route: around 19 km. Duration by walking: around 5 hours.
Second day. Starting point: MONTECHIARO D’ASTI. Next stops-over: CAMERANO CASASCO – CHIUSANO D’ASTI. Length of route: around 9 km. Duration by walking: around 3 hours.
Possibility to make the transfer from Montechiaro d’Asti to Camerano Casasco and later up to Chiusano by bus or by car.
First day. Arrival in Monferrato hills in the early morning. The walk starts from the crossroad of Gallareto, near to the town of Cerreto d’Asti. After You have crossed the main road, You will enter the suggestive wood area of San Tonco, a place of high naturalistic interest renowned by biologists and trekking lovers. The wood extends in a particular area, a long and narrow valley enclosed between two quite steep hill chains; among black alders and white willows amphibious animals, birds and wild mammalian races find refuge. This itinerary continues reaching the first houses of Vallunga locality, near to the town of Piea, and the village of Viale; crossed the main road, You can go on toward Northern direction, and later Eastern one; running along the main road, You will reach the village of Cortanze. The village is still dominated by the castle of Roero Marquises, which was mentioned for the first time in the official document in the half of the Twelfth century, and still preserves the urban structure dated to the Fourteenth century. You can start from Piazza Marconi, placed at the feet of ancient walls; the square was realized in the 30’s in place of a deep moat that during the centuries was used not only for defense by lords of castle, but also as a water tank by peasants, very useful for watering livestock. The castle is still isolated from the town centre thanks to the majestic massive wall; in the past the simple peasants’ houses leaned against to it for seeking protection. Going along Via Battisti and walking around the old town centre, You can arrive in Via Diaz up to the feet of castle, which has a curious trapezoidal drawing and an impressive crenellated tower. The building is surrounded by a nice terraced garden, where You can breathe a quiet and romantic atmosphere; from the highest terrace You can see a beautiful panorama over the sweet Monferrato hills. In the past Cortanze was a property of Pelletta House, a rich family of bankers coming from Asti; in the beginning of the Seventeenth century the feud passed in the hands of Roero family, who was the owner of a part of feud since the half of the Fifteenth century. Among the members of this House, there were Maltese knights, archbishops and generals, as Ercole Tommaso, elected as the Viceroy of Sardinia from 1727 to 1731. You can’t miss the parish of Saints Pietro and Giovanni, built in the Seventeenth century on the project by the architect Fraschini from Switzerland. The last part of itinerary will lead You to the town of Montechiaro d’Asti, famous for the nice Romanesque church of Saints Nazario and Celso and for the delicious hazelnuts cake.
Possibility to complete the day with an “surprising” Cooking Class placed in the rooms of “Cascina San Nazario” farm. Depending on the season, participants will be able to make a short guided walk looking for aromatic herbs and test Yourselves with preparation of desserts and jams, according to Piedmontese tradition. Finally a rich snack tasting delicacies prepared by participants.
As an alternative, lunch time at “Tre Colli” Restaurant and Wine Shop, placed in the old town centre of Montechiaro, at the feet of the medieval civic tower. In the afternoon, we suggest a visit to the Romanesque Church of Saints Nazario and Celso, placed 2 km far from the town centre of Montechiaro, hidden among trees on the top of a small hill. Founded in the beginning of the Eleventh century, it surprises for the intense two-color walls and the impressive bell tower; for many centuries it was a benchmark for pilgrims and wanderers walking along Francigena way. Later light dinner and accommodation in a local Bed and breakfast for overnight.
Second day. After breakfast departure in the direction of Camerano Casasco, reachable crossing Regione Vignasone. The town is composed by two different small villages that dominate the sweet hills of Rilate valleys. From Casasco in particular You can go up toward the centre of Camerano, walking along a large crest where the village is located. It is dominated by the majestic castle of Asinari House, a powerful family from Asti working in trade and financial activities since the Thirteenth century; walking toward the castle, You will discover very suggestive panoramic glimpses. You can’t miss the beautiful parish of Saint Lorenzo, with its impressive decoration in plaster, a real art masterpiece created by sculptors coming from Lugano that worked in the province of Asti in the beginning of the Seventeenth century. The images of Saints and biblical tales emerge among flowered decorations, refined frames and spirals, together with a large group of angels. The high qualitative level and the precious polychromy makes this church a unique exemplar in Piedmont. You can continue crossing the countryside around toward the area of Cinaglio, the birth place of sweet and fragrant Canestrello cookie. Last stop at Chiusano d’Asti, and lunch time at a local farm tasting typical Piedmontese dishes. In the afternoon we suggest a visit to a near winery, for tasting local wines, as Barbera d’Asti docg. Departure to return.