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Rocchetta Tanaro

By car: leaving Asti on Corso Alessandria (SS10 ) the Nature Park of Rocchetta Tanaro is easily found in the direction of Alessandria. Go through the built up area of Castello d'Annone and take the right turn indicated for Rocchetta Tanaro; after the bridge over the river Tanaro, 500 m before entering the town, turn to the right for the village of Gatti or Saint Emiliano. After 4 km you reach the car park of the Park (on the right hand side). Those wishing to tour the park by bicycle can bring their bicycle by train, arriving at the station of Rocchetta Tanaro-Cerro (6 km. from the park). The first of the protected areas, founded in 1980, extends for only 123 hectares, entirely in the commune of Rocchetta on a plateau that slopes down towards the river Tanaro, at an altitude of 100-124 m above sea level. An ideal place for a tranquil stroll in the woodland, suitable for all; the reserve is known as "the wood of the Marquess" - in the local dialect "i bosch del Marcheis" - because at one time it was the property of the marquess Incisa della Rocchetta.
The high naturalistic value of the area is represented by the woodland heritage comprising copses of chestnut and false acacia and by woods of tall trees, in which oak and hornbeam are mixed with Sessile oak or English oak trees. The first ones prefer the higher zones, the second the valley bottom
From the geological point of view, the zone is part of a hilly complex constituted from sands of Villafranchiano, emerging at the summit, which lie upon the Sands of Asti. Given its constitution, the ground is subject to an intense erosive activity, hardly restrained by the roots of the plants. From the point of view of the climate and of the relevant flora, the park lies at the centre of a kind of bridge between the zone of the Langhe, to South of Piedmont, considerably influenced by the Mediterranean air, and the hilly zones of Turin, where there are still alpine elements of vegetation. The presence of the "large beech" (locally called "Faggio Emilio") of the Val du Gè (Valley of the Frost) is significant, a centennial specimen that grows in the lower areas of Piedmont (130 metres above sea level), and reminds us of the beech woods growing throughout the area at the end of the last glacial period.
Much of the surface of the park is covered by woodland: mixed oak-grove, in which the dominant species are the native and english oak, together with the downy oak and the turkey oak. The study of the vegetation of the park is considered of utmost importance in order to rebuild the original forestry aspect of the quaternary period of Piedmont. The oak-grove, which mostly consists of Sessile oak is characterised by the presence of the south European mountain ash, the wild service tree, the common medlar tree, the hawthorn and the honeysuckle. You are also likely to come across the common hazel, next to the wild linden, the hornbeam and the country maple, while in the proximity of the streams the white poplar and the black alder grow. In the undergrowth orchids, lilies, lilies of the valley, anemones, loddon lilies, bellflowers, and Saint Bernard’s lily grow.
The forestry habitat also offers a refuge to numerous animals. Among the more common mammals living in the park: the fox, the badger (symbol of the Park), the squirrel, the hedgehog, the weasel along with the common and the edible dormouse. Bird life is especially rich and is represented by about forty nesting species, among which the rare lesser spotted woodpecker, Eurasian nuthatch, the short-toed tree-creeper, the Eurasian Wryneck, the wood warbler and numerous day time and nocturnal birds of prey.
In the bottom of the valley there are two rivers, the Rabengo to the West and the Ronsinaggio to the East, that mark the boundaries of the park. Significant, from the naturalistic point of view, is the presence of the freshwater crayfish here, witness to the high water quality. The Ronsinaggio rises from the source "Canà", a source of ferruginous and clear water that was the main source of water supply to the residents of the area until the 1960s. The spring is accessible on foot or by mountain bike following the cycling circuit.
At the Nature Park of Rocchetta Tanaro, an area of forestry interest, there have been for a number of years two short routes specifically suitable for those with visual and physical disability.
We also advise you to visit Rocchetta Tanaro. Developed in Roman times along the Via Fulvia, it is a small but lively centre with many characteristics, testimony to its long history; from the Romanesque church “delle Ciappellette”, to the castle of the Marchesi Incisa and to the interesting 18th century parish.