As summer fades away and makes way for warm September days, a strip of land between castles, cellars and ancient villages is the ideal destination to enjoy the beginning of autumn.
Gentle hills with a sinuous profile open up before us. Slopes covered with vineyards, still green meadows, orchards and wheat fields, hills topped by ancient castles that recall a feudal past. We are in the heart of Monferrato, a historic region with a memorable panorama.
The landscape of these Piedmontese lands is a precious jewel that falls within the areas recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Here the hand of man has forged and modified the environment, giving it a harmonious as well as productive aspect, combining a centuries-old culture with respect for the territory and the beauty of the environment. From the banks of the Po to the heights of the Apennines, between the cities of Asti and Alessandria, this territory that the Romans called "mons ferratus" is a succession of Romanesque parish churches, ancient villages, cultivated fields and woods.
We begin with Canelli, the most important center of the "land of sparkling wine" where the Gancia Castle and the famous underground cellars await us, authentic hidden cathedrals that branch out under the town. Real masterpieces of enological engineering and architecture welcome millions of bottles left to ferment at a constant temperature of 12-14 degrees, waiting to give us a noble and precious wine.
But the treasures of Monferrato are scattered almost everywhere, it is difficult even to remember them all: from the large square of Moncalvo to the Sanctuary of Crea, from the castle of Sannazzaro to the archaeological area of Libarna, from the widespread museum of Cella Monte to the thermal springs of Acqui . From the Belvedere di Ottiglio, one of the many panoramic points in the hills, the gaze embraces the Monferrato degli infernot, small underground chambers dug by hand in the sandstone and devoid of natural light and ventilation. These environments, often also embellished with decorations, maintain constant temperature and humidity and therefore represent optimal places for the conservation of bottled wine. The infernots are the result of popular tradition, they were made starting from the seventeenth century thanks to the skill of the rural population and today they represent an important heritage.
Along the roads of Monferrato you can enjoy many Land Art experiences: works created in nature and set in the landscape are scattered throughout the territory, decorating the environment and surprising visitors. Among the most photographed are the deconsecrated chapels covered with murals, the giant panoramic benches and the colored poles for the vineyards transformed into giant pencils.
Culinary delicacies and typical Monferrato products will be our "booty" today. We certainly cannot go home without a few bottles of Barbera, a nice slice of green cake (with rice, herbs and eggs), some hunchback thistle to accompany the Piedmontese bagna cauda, a package of krumiri biscuits and a jar of cugnà, delicious grape mustard.
There is no doubt, our destination today has given us emotions and flavours, art and nature.
Let's go back to La Darbia, with the Monferrato panorama still shining in the corners of our eyes.