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Family-Friendly Hikes

Suitable for: children aged 6 or above

Partially suited to strollers (younger kids should be carried in a backpack)

Elevation gain: +400 metres overall (not consecutive)

Distance: 13 km overall

Estimated time: 4,30 hours

Route type: loop with asphalt, dirt road, path, grassy tracks

Starting altitude: 250 metres Maximum altitude: 280 metres

Minimum altitude: 160 metres

When: all year round in absence of snow

A long hike to discover the territory of Agliano Terme among magnificent vineyards and suggestive cherry trees. A very long walk that actually includes five different itineraries (all loop-type and marked by different colours) to help you create a route tailored to your own needs.

From Piazza Roma, where you can park, take Via Corte and then turn right onto Via XX Settembre at Salumeria Truffa (brown "panoramic point" sign). Go slightly uphill to reach a small square, overlooking two sacred buildings. Continue on Via XX Settembre to the left, towards the tree-lined avenue that offers a first panoramic view, then turn right onto Via Cesare Battisti (brown "panoramic point" sign). After a short climb you reach a tower, its top overlooks the surrounding area and from there it is possible to see the route to follow. Once past the tower you will find a large playground while the road takes a circular turn back to the previous junction.

You turn right towards the little church of Santa Croce, keeping it to your left, and walk along an asphalted road that passes through another small panoramic garden. Once you get to Via Dante Alighieri, take the narrower road to the left that leads down steeply to the SP6 and there you start the "Percorso Giallo" (Yellow Route). Now follow the provincial road to the right (direction Asti), and walk for about 400 metres until you reach a small road, always asphalted, which descends to the left (locality Mucci). When you see some houses turn left, through the vineyards, and descend rather steeply until you reach the asphalted road at the bottom of the valley.

Note: this is the only stretch on the route that could prove challenging with prams, please consider that it is not very long (400 metres) and it is downhill, but you should definitely avoid it in case of recent rain because of the mud.

Turn right to take nearly immediately the road on the left (blue signs for various hamlets, including Cascinetta). After a few metres take the road on the right (Brusasacco) and, always on asphalt, take the road uphill towards the slope opposite the village of Agliano. After a double bend you enter the hamlet and turn left, always on asphalt, crossing a beautiful area of vineyards dotted with cherry trees on the ridge and with a superb panoramic view on both sides. At the crossroads you leave the "Percorso Giallo" (Yellow Route) and continue straight on along the votive pillar to your left (Bricco-Ansaldo signpost).

Note: those who follow the Yellow Trail loop must turn left.

Once you are near the house the road becomes unpaved and continues along on a ridge. Always stay on the main road, also through a couple of bends, and then the road becomes a nice grassy track and finally you get back on asphalt near another group of houses, where the "Percorso Arancio" (Orange route) starts. From the road you can see a bell tower on your left, and with a very short deviation you reach a small chapel next to a farm and set on a panoramic terrace.

Go straight and walk on the asphalted road again, ignore the various junctions on the left and stay just below the ridge of the hill until you reach the hamlet of Vianoce where at a crossroads you will join the "Percorso Rosso" (Red route), marked by a wooden cross.

Note: those who follow the Orange Route must turn left soon after the houses where the bell tower is.

At the crossroads you go straight on, on asphalt, always through beautiful gentle and undulating environments characterized by tidy and clean vineyards, while the road goes down to a crossroads which is marked by a votive pillar. Now turn left, always on asphalt, and continue to descend as you walk on the main road that passes by several groups of houses. When you reach a warehouse please pay attention to a junction which is marked by blue signs indicating "Crena-Montà Perno", from where you are arriving, and "Agliano 2,5" in the direction you are going to. Here you leave the "Percorso Rosso" (Red route) to enter the "Percorso Azzurro" (Light Blue route). Note: those who follow the Red Route must turn left towards a dirt road. Soon after this junction, take the first small road on the right that climbs up behind a thick group of trees standing on the edge of the valley. Near a house, at the end of the road, take the uphill track to the left that passes through hazelnut groves, vineyards and woods towards an orange house in Bricco Roche. Pass the houses and go down towards a junction. Alternative route for prams: do not take the small uphill road on the right, but go straight on along the road that runs through the bottom of the valley to join this junction. Continue to the right and, shortly afterwards, turn right again (in Scorrone hamlet) leaving the "Percorso Azzurro". (Light Blue route)

Note: those who follow the Percorso Azzurro (Light Blue route) must continue straight ahead. This is a mandatory route for prams: from here the route is no longer accessible to prams, you have to keep straight on the asphalt road along Crena Region and head directly to Agliano Terme for 1.3 km and through an elevation gain of 40 metres.

Very soon you will get to a white votive shrine: take the dirt road to the left that passes by the house and becomes a path, crossing completely a vineyard, until you get back on asphalt. Continue to the right until you reach the houses of the Spéssa hamlet and take the asphalted road on the left ("loc. Bansella" blue sign), then take the slightly uphill road to the right (always asphalted, "loc. Bansella" blue sign) and now follow the "Percorso Blu" (Blue path). Between the tree-lined banks and vineyards you will find yourself again on the ridge of gentle hills with panoramic views to the right and left.

Once past the houses you take the uphill road on the left which immediately becomes a dirt road heading towards a pylon. Keep it to your right and continue on a sloping ground, on the main road towards a group of sheds. Before you reach them you have to take all the junctions on your left and go down towards the asphalt road that runs parallel to the route you have just walked. Once on the asphalt road you continue to the left, in the direction of a couple of houses where you will leave the asphalt and take the dirt road to the right. You keep following it straight on while going up quite steeply towards the village of Agliano.

When you reach a "T" crossroads, turn left for a short stretch along a tree-lined bank that runs alongside a vineyard and keep it to your right. It might seems as if the dirt road can go straight ahead, while you keep the vineyard to your left: it is not wrong, but if you follow the recommended route you will arrive more easily at the slight uphill slope that will take you to a wide meadow towards the asphalted road. Continue uphill and reach Via Donato Aluffi. Turn right (one way in the opposite direction for cars), and you will get to Piazza Roma, thus completing the loop.

Notes

An easy but long hike, you should consider spending the whole day there. However, the described itinerary includes five other routes and in various points it is possible to shorten the walk. Except for the last stretch, as mentioned above, it is also possible to walk with prams because the dirt road paths are fairly beaten.

For those who want to cover the five routes separately:

Red route - distance: 5,5 km / elevation gain: +170 m

Blue route - distance: 6 km / elevation gain: +230 m

Orange route - distance: 3,5 km / elevation gain: + 110 m

Yellow route - distance: 7 km / elevation gain: +200 m Light

Blue route - distance: 5,5 km / elevation gain: +170 m

All the paths are circular loops running along magnificent stretches through the vineyards although not all the paths are suitable for prams.

Suitable for: children aged 6 or above

Not suited to strollers (younger kids should be carried in a backpack)

Elevation gain: +250 metres overall

Distance: 10 km overall

Estimated time: 3,30 hours

Route type: loop on asphalt, dirt road, footpath

Starting altitude: 240 metres

Minimum altitude: 140 metres

When: spring, autumn, low-snow winter

A varied and enjoyable loop tour in a bucolic environment among hills, churches and woods.

The Municipality of Tigliole has developed throughout its territory a series of loop hikes of different lengths ranging from 6 to 21 kilometres so that each person can choose according to their physical abilities. The Yellow Route suggested here is actually part of all six routes traced by the Municipality, the path is well marked with embossed signs featuring the name "Tiglieto".

You start your walk from the car park located near the Town Hall of Tigliole, situated in a dominant position on the site of an ancient castle that has now completely disappeared. In the neoclassical building there is a permanent contemporary art exhibition which can be visited during municipal offices opening hours.

Opposite the façade, take the pedestrian descent to the right, marked by memorial stones that commemorate the casualties of the Great War and reach the 19th century church of the Holy Crucifix which today, oddly enough, is home to a bank. You cross the square to go towards the Monument dedicated to the Alpines and walk by the 17th century parish church dedicated to Saints Giovanni and Lorenzo, then continue along the Provincial Road downhill (with no pavement in some sections). Go past the little church dedicated to the eighteenth-century Madonna del Buon Consiglio (Our Lady of Good Counsel), and ignore the junction from which you will return once you have completed the tour.

Go downhill and you will eventually reach the small play area (fountain) near the little church of San Sebastiano. Now you leave the provincial road and turn left onto the small road slightly uphill. Once past the houses the road becomes unpaved and leads pleasantly to the Romanesque jewel of the church of San Lorenzo, dating back to the XI-XII century. Originally it was the parish church, including the cemetery, while today it has been completely restored and is used for exhibitions and cultural events.

As you leave the building to your right you go down towards the camper van and sports area (fountain). Before you continue along the dirt road, which turns right around the car park, pay attention to the small plantation on your left: there are fruit trees of different types, each one clearly marked by a sign. The dirt road descends rapidly leading towards the Provincial Road. Follow the asphalt road to the left for a few metres and then leave it for a grassy track uphill to the left (sign), and go past the edge of the cultivated fields.

After a few steps, the signs make you turn right and then immediately left making a very steep descent into the woods. At the end of the descent, you turn right and continue on a sinuous path between meadow and uncultivated land until you reach the provincial road. You walk on the asphalt road to your left and in a few steps, you reach a picnic area with a giant fountain (no drinking water). Continue on asphalt, but when you get close to a building turn left towards the entrance of the Lipu Area - Centro Recupero Fauna (Wildlife Recovery Centre) where the local wildlife is treated before being released back into the wild. A short detour allows you to visit the Centre, which is certainly of interest for children.

Before you get to the entrance you leave the asphalt for a steep uphill path to the left (sign) which runs along the fence and then gradually leads into the woods. Once you reach the top of the climb you will find a tree that has been cut down, you go around it and follow the wide track that continues flat, to your left, while you can see the main entrance to the Lipu Centre to your right.

You walk away from the centre and head towards a building, then continue on a slightly downhill gravel road that leads to an asphalt road. You continue to the left on the asphalt road, uphill, until you reach a junction in the hamlet of San Carlo. The road continues along Strada Baldichieri but it is advisable to deviate from the route and climb up to the left towards the church dedicated to San Carlo (fountain and benches).

The route then proceeds downhill along Via Baldichieri, always on asphalt and with some ups and downs, until it reaches San Carlo Stazione. Pay attention to your left to Strada Stazione 1 which continues, still asphalted, running parallel to the railway line. Once you reach a warehouse the road becomes unpaved and continues parallel to the railway crossing a typical area full of hazelnut groves. When the road bends sharply you leave the wide road and take the smaller road on the left which proceeds in a swinging direction with some detours, clearly marked by the signs. The greenery is quite varied and ranges from hazelnut to oak trees including some vineyards until it ends on an asphalt road. You can ignore the asphalt and continue onto a dirt road to the right walking past some isolated houses and an area filled with acacias and then descend onto a wider dirt road.

Up to this point the six routes traced by the Municipality have overlapped each other, now you leave the main road to complete the yellow loop and turn left downhill. The dirt road is unquestionable, after a descent it becomes gradual and crosses the very enjoyable Pertusa Valley.

When you get onto the asphalt, you continue to the left going uphill fairly steeply to reach the provincial road. If you turn right you go uphill along the same stretch you walked at the beginning of your hike and then return to the church of Saints. Giovanni and Lorenzo. Follow the small uphill road that starts to the right at the corner of the church and climbs up a ramp taking you directly to the Town Hall car park.

Notes

The peculiarity about Tigliole is that it is the municipality in the province of Asti with the largest territorial extension compared to the number of inhabitants (1.700). The main income is given by cattle breeding and the event "Stelle in Stalla" (Stars in the Stable), which is held in June, features a tasting of raw meat and an award ceremony for the best cattle, likewise the wine production of the area revolves around Barbera.

Suitable for: children aged 6 or above

Not suited to strollers (younger kids should be carried in a backpack)

Elevation gain: +180 metres overall

Distance: 8,5 km overall

Estimated time: 3 hours overall

Route type: loop on asphalt, dirt road and grassy tracks

Starting altitude: 175 metres

Minimum altitude: 155 metres

Maximum altitude: 265 metres

When: in spring, autum, low-snow winter

A very relaxing loop route through vineyards and rolling hills featuring magnificent views of the entire Monferrato Astigiano area.

You start your walk in Piazza Rossino, north of the town centre and behind the parish church dedicated to Saints Cosmas and Damian. Right next to the church you turn onto Corso Roma which takes you to the old town centre, marked by a beautiful pavement. If you turn around you can see the parish church and its eye-catching decorated façade. It is located where, in ancient times, there was the chapel around which the fortress of San Damiano was built. Right next to it there is a second church, the Confraternita della Santissima Annunziata (Confraternity of the Most Holy Annunciation) dating back to the XVI century. The bell tower, a circular tower whose base is the only remain of the 14th century castle, is even more peculiar.

You walk along Corso Roma, surrounded by porticoes and cobblestones, and you cannot help but notice the layout of the side streets which are perfectly perpendicular and still cobbled to underline the ancient layout of the centre, exactly as it appears on the maps of the 18th century. You cross Piazza della Libertà, which overlooks the Town Hall and where there is a refreshing ground-level fountain as well as the Enoteca Colline Alfieri dell'Astigiano and you continue to walk until you reach Piazza Camisola, at the end of the old town.

You turn left and walk at the centre of the raised tree-lined avenue, a remain of the ancient ramparts, then go down a staircase to Piazza 1275 where you will find to the left the Foro Boario (multifunctional site). The route continues straight ahead, across the car park in Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII, to turn right onto Via Borbone which, slightly downhill, will take you out of the town centre. Please ignore all the junctions up to the one indicated by the "frazione San Luigi" sign which takes you to the left on a flat asphalt road running through the fields. A bridge will take you across the Rio Borbore and straight onto the asphalt road. When you reach the first crossroads you keep to the right while at the second crossroads, marked by a row of vines supported by giant crayons, you go to the left as you start to climb.

The landscape until now has been mainly characterised by maize and hazelnuts, now the rows of vines are getting closer and closer. By moving uphill, you reach the hamlet of San Luigi and the superb panorama that can be enjoyed from the square in front of the church with the homonymous name which overlooks the hills towards Govone and San Martino Alfieri.

You leave the church behind you and continue on the asphalt road that unwinds along the hilly ridge and then becomes a dirt road pleasantly running across the vineyards. After a bend to the left you leave the dirt road and continue to the right along the track that runs alongside a vineyard, continuing gradually and offering magnificent views of the rows of vines. Should you have any doubts you can go straight on along the dirt road now slightly downhill and turn right just ahead of some houses on a slightly uphill dirt road. Both routes will reconnect later on.

Now take the slightly uphill dirt road ("Corricollina" wooden sign). When you overlook the opposite view turn right onto the dirt road that is often bordered by hazelnut trees and which takes you to the ridge of the hill in front of the one you have previously crossed.

At the first junction you keep to the right while at the second one you turn left, always following the most visible dirt road that runs along the ridge and begins to descend crossing a thicker vegetation of hazelnut trees, woodland and uncultivated land. Once you are among the vineyards again you have to pay attention to the track that turns sharply to the right and goes steeply downhill, with a fast elevation loss, and take you to a dirt road at the bottom of the valley.

Turn left and proceed gradually along a more rural environment filled with poplars until you reach the bridge you have already crossed on your way up. From here you can walk back on the same road.

Notes

This hiking tour is also suitable for sporty-type prams, however it should be avoided after heavy rainfall because of mud. There are two bizarre metal "giant chairs" near the cemetery.

Several fairs are scheduled in San Damiano and you can taste the Sandamianesi (sweet pastries made with a hazelnut wafer wrapped around some cream, chocolate and hazelnuts) at "La Barbera incontra", the Regional Truffle Fair or La Fiera Storica del Cappone Nostrano.

Suitable for: kids aged 6 and above

Not suited to strollers (younger kids must be in baby backpack carriers)

Elevation gain: +200 metres overall

Distance: 6 km overall

Estimated time: 2,30 hours

Route type: loop on dirt road, asphalt, footpath

Starting altitude: 220 metres

Minimum altitude: 140 metres

When: all year round, in winter only in absence of snow

Quite a challenging hike, due to the absence of constant signage, meant to discover the Rocchetta Tanaro Natural Park, the first protected zone of the Astigiano area. A journey through chestnuts, locust trees and oak coppice woods in search of the "great old man": a two-hundred-year-old beech!

You start your walk from the central car park located along the road that crosses the entire protected area, fully equipped with tables and fountain. Once at the entrance you cross the whole car park and at the end take the little road to the right and go downhill ("Rio Rabengo-Fondovalle" green sign). The wide downhill slope gradually descends into the woods until it becomes a path.

After reaching a ravine you will get to a clearly visible single junction where you have to turn right ("Rocchetta Tanaro 804B" sign) along a wide and flat track that follows the course of a stream (often dry) and leads to a roadblock bar. Continue for a short stretch beyond the bar and you will eventually reach a dirt road.

Continue to the right ("204" sign) following the dirt road for a stretch and then a less wooded stretch. After about 800 metres you must pay attention to a path to the right which is highlighted by an old wooden sign. You cross the stream across a small bridge and start climbing into the deep woods. Towards the end of the climb you have to turn right. At the following junction you keep right again, always uphill, until you reach the top of the ridge where you will find several routes.

Now turn left and go down slightly until you reach the asphalted road. You walk along the asphalted road to the right (past the grassy path when present), thus crossing the hamlet of Sant'Emiliano. Once you leave the houses behind you continue on asphalt. A few steps after an isolated farmhouse, clearly visible to the right, you have to pay attention to a path on your left which is clearly marked by a wooden bar. In some periods of the year this passage could be partly hidden by vegetation. Should this be the case, simply continue a little further and follow the parallel path which is usually cleaner and also marked by a wooden bar. Both paths meet at the same point.

Continue first uphill, then downhill. This stretch follows the Sentiero Natura (Nature pathway) trail, but from here there is no further signage: once you get to the various junctions it is best to always keep to the right, downhill. When you arrive at the third junction please watch out: a signpost points to the Park's old man: a beech tree that is two hundred years old and stands out majestically, recognized as a "monumental tree" by the Piedmont Region. It does not immediately catch your eye, since it is surrounded by many other shrubs, but once next to the sign, you have to look up to the left.

The path that leads to the beech tree is without any exit, so you have to walk back a little and continue until you reach a wide dirt road, which is at the minimum altitude reached by the hike, and you have to follow it to the right ("Casa Parco" sign). When you reach a wooden sign take the small road to the right, uphill, and then take the widest, cleanest, uphill road to the right again (“no horses” sign). The wide trail becomes a narrow footpath and, soon afterwards, you will arrive near the building in the Park which houses a hostel.

If you continue further on you will reach the dirt road where, by turning left, you will shortly arrive at the initial car park.

Notes

Since 1980 the Park has been stretching over the land owned by the Marquises of Incisa who have been present in the territory since the 12th century. The boundaries of the protected area are delimited by two small rivers: the Rabengo (that you almost crossed at the beginning of the hiking tour) and the Ronsinaggio (almost crossed on the way back), the rare crayfish can be found in these waters. Besides the extensive and rich woodland of the park there are forty species of nesting birds that have been identified in there. The Great Beech Tree has the peculiarity of growing at Piedmont’s minimum altitude, 140 metres above sea level (it is usually found higher up), and is evidence of the vast beech forests that used to cover the territory after the great glaciations. It is 25 metres high, while the foliage has a 30 metres diameter and the trunk is 3 metres in circumference at its base.

It is a challenging trail suitable only for those who have a good sense of direction because, regrettably, not all junctions are signposted and the signage is fairly rare. The trail should be avoided at all costs after heavy rainfall as some stretches will turn into real muddy riverbeds.

Suitable for: all ages

Suited to strollers

Elevantion gain: irrelevant

Distance: 2 km overall

Estimated time: 1 hour overall

Ruote type: loop on asphalt, cobbled surface

Medium altitude: 140 metres

When: all year round

Urban trekking through the streets and squares of Nizza Monferrato, amid ancient buildings, historical churches and colourful murals.

The departure is from Piazza Dante, in front of the railway station, where there is also the entrance to the Bersano Museum dedicated to the wine-farming civilization and featuring a collection of tools from the agricultural world as well as a section displaying wine labels dating back up to four centuries.

Back at the entrance of the square, turn right onto Via Roma until you cross a bridge over the Belbo torrent. Once past the bridge turn right along the stream and follow the current for a short stretch. After leaving the small parking square take Via Carlo Alberto to the left and, within a few steps, you will reach Piazza XX Settembre, surrounded by trees and with a magnificent olive tree in the centre (fountain), while the colourful façade of the church dedicated to St. Hippolytus stands on its side.

From this square you continue onto Via Carlo Alberto, now a pedestrian street. The street was once called Via Maestra, marked by a long sequence of narrow, low arcades and, yesterday as today, it is the strategic commercial axis of the town centre. Through this street you can reach the beating heart of Nizza Monferrato: Piazza Martiri di Alessandria, right next to the 14th-15th century town hall building and, above all, you can reach its tower which is affectionately called “el Campanòn”, which over time has been a defence tower, bell tower and also town hall. Between the 18th and 19th century the Jewish Ghetto was located near the square, as a plaque remembers today, as well as the Synagogue which has been dismantled before the Second World War. On the pedestrian square there are comfortable benches and it is easy to relax while the kids can toddle around and play peacefully.

Continue to walk along Via Carlo Alberto, mostly looking towards the left and enjoying the narrow alleys which connect with Via Pio Corsi, whence you will return, until you reach the big Piazza Garibaldi (fountain). A tree-lined avenue borders the entire route while in the centre, in addition to the car park and market area, there are bowling alleys and the closed structure of the Foro Boario which is used for exhibitions, conferences and events as well as home to the Information Office.

Once you have walked across the square you move on and go onto Via Pio Corsi, which is parallel to Via Maestra, and pass in front of the baroque church of San Siro until you reach the gate that leads into the garden of Palazzo Crova. It is a baronial residence of the 18th century which is now home to various institutions and activities such as the Associazione Produttori del Nizza and Enoteca di Nizza, which also manages the multimedial Palazzo del Gusto (Palace of Taste) dedicated to the history of local gastronomy, and also Art'900 which exhibits artworks of the private collection of Davide Lajolo. On the inner and outer wall stand out the paintings of the artistic installation "with wings in flight over the World Heritage territories", artworks created by G.C. Ferraris, M. Ricci and G. Sanzo.

The street ends near the 18th century Church of San Giovanni in Lanero. When you turn right you will find yourself on the bridge you already crossed on the way up, now follow the same street until you go back to Piazza Dante.

Notes

A peculiarity is the baroque church of San Siro: it would seem that the original building, built in 1311, was commissioned by a local nobleman, a certain Antonio Pelletta, provided that the archpriests destined to run it were exclusively natives of Nizza Monferrato. Another curious event is held the second week end of June: the town streets are turned into a racing circuit where the key protagonists are... the barrels. Large barrels of wine, each weighing over a quintal, are rolled in a competition that dates back to the nineteenth century. The story tells that it was the shop assistants who first started this competition as they challenged each other by competing in speed during their deliveries. The event takes place combined with a re-enactment in historical costume and with "Monferrato in Tavola", a sort of big open-air restaurant where you can taste typical local products. (www.corsadellebottinizza.com).

Suitable for: all ages

Suited to strollers (alternative road)

Elevation gain: +80 metres one-way

Distance: 2 km overall

Estimated time: 45 minutes overall

Route type: loop on asphalt, cobblestones

Starting altitude: 160 metres

Arrival altitude: 220 metres

Maximum altitude: 230 metres

When: all year round

An easy city walk starting from the lower part of Canelli to reach the foot of the castle where there is a panoramic terrace, ideal for a journey back in time along the "Stërnìa", a characteristic paved road dotted with painted houses.

You start from the large car park in Piazza Carlo Gancia, dedicated to the man who in 1865 set the guidelines of the "classic Italian method" for the production of Italy's first sparkling wine. Walk towards the low tower with a clock, follow the tree-lined avenue of Piazza Zoppa to the right and you will soon reach Piazza Cavour. Don't worry if you cannot distinguish the different squares: actually they all seem to be the continuation of each other, you only have to keep walking along the wide and enjoyable tree-lined avenue until it ends.

Now continue to the left along Via XX Settembre until you reach the lovely Piazza Amedeo d'Aosta, partially a pedestrian area. If you look up you can see your destination: the panoramic terrace is in fact just below the impressive Gancia Castle which completely overlooks Canelli from above. The original building was already there in the Middle Ages but it was destroyed in 1617. Once rebuilt it became known as Palazzo Scarampi Crivelli; nowadays it is completely renovated and is a residential villa.

You cross the entire square towards Casa Scarazzini, today a neoclassical building with a clock on the façade and which in the Middle Ages used to be home to the Town Hall and the Court. Who knows how to find the “Murales della famiglia affacciata” (the family at the window mural)? Just look up... Take Via G.B. Giuliani to the left ("Torre dei Contini" brown sign) and you will arrive in front of the palace of the Bosca Cellars, one of the Cattedrali Sotterranee (Underground Cathedrals), several kilometres of tunnels excavated in tuff between the 16th and 19th centuries where bottles of sparkling wine refine in silence before brightening up the tables throughout the world. A little further to the left there is Palazzo Giuliani which houses the Enoteca Regionale and the Tourist Information offices.

A little further to the right there is a second entrance to the Underground Cathedrals at the Cantina Contratto. But our route now turns right slightly uphill onto Via Rossini ("La Via degli Innamorati" brown sign), heading towards the clearly visible church of San Tommaso. Once at the church you should note how the theme of the vineyard is crucial to Canelli: there are in fact, along the streets, some examples of vines including the description of the types and specific characteristics. Next to San Tommaso you can find vine n. 10 of Arneis.

This seventeenth-century church is opposite the smaller church dedicated to the Annunziata, which dates back to the XVIII century. Right next to this church begins the so-called "Stërnìa" (cobbled path), now called Via Villanuova, a characteristic uphill cobbled road that climbs up with wide bends towards the Castle along panoramic views. Once you get to the small church of San Giuseppe, please pay attention and take the staircase to the left that leads directly to the panoramic terrace which offers a view of Canelli and Monferrato all the way to the Langhe (with prams you have to continue along the road instead).

After enjoying the view follow the uphill ramp along Via Costa Belvedere until it gets onto Via Villanuova. Turn left, again uphill, and you will arrive at one of the castle's entrances (private building, not open to the public). The walk continues straight ahead to the right, now downhill, through the richly decorated late 16th century Casa Prato to easily reach the baroque churches dedicated to San Leonardo and San Rocco, facing each other. The road crosses the two churches to get back onto the Stërnìa again, it continues to go downhill, always offering a panoramic view, and past other decorated buildings it joins the uphill road.

From this point you just follow the same route you took on your way up..

Notes

It is named "Via degli Innamorati" (Lovers’ road) after the characters designed by Raymond Peynet. The illustrator artist was in Canelli in 1983 to attend an exhibition and presentation of one of his films at Cantine Bocchino. He was deeply impressed by the peculiarity of the Stërnìa and drew his Lovers on a tile. Little by little, the ascent to the Stërnìa will be filled with works of art inspired by Peynet's world. With prams you can continue along the street passing by the churches of San Leonardo and San Rocco (described route back). There are many museums in Canelli: not to be missed the Bocchino Distillery Museum, which tells the story of the peasant civilization and distillation; the Museum of Vineyards, Wine and Old Farming Habits featuring tools related to the cultivation of vineyards and wine production in the nineteenth century.; the MUSA, South Asti area Multimedia Museum. Not included in our route, but part of the "Underground Cathedrals" system, the Cantine Coppo are also worth a visit. About four kilometres south, towards Loazzolo, you can find the Big Bench of Canelli, one of the gigantic coloured benches inspired by artist Chris Bangle marking the Piedmont territory.

Suitable for: all ages

Suited to strollers

Elevation gain: +80 metres overall

Distance: 1,5 km overall

Estimated time: 35 minutes overall

Route type: loop on grassy tracks

Starting altitude: 225 metres

Minimum altitude: 180 metres

Maximum altitude: 245 metres

When: all year round in absence of snow

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.

Notes

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.

Suitable for: all ages, partially suited to strollers

Elevation gain: +50 metres one-way

Distance: 1 km one-way

Estimated time: 30 minutes one-way

Route type: linear out-and-back trail on dirt road, grassy tracks

Starting altitude: 170 metres

Arrival altitude: 210 metres When: all year round in absence of snow

An easy walk through magnificent vineyards and impressive works of art set in an Art Park which is open to everyone and offers its curious visitors unusual views, unique details to look for, bright colours and strong emotions.

Your walk starts at Cascina La Court where you can find the map as well as the first installations such as the giant Mother Nature statue by Emanuele Luzzati. The farmhouse is not only the starting point of the hiking tour, its barn also hosts some events and exhibitions.

Several colourful tiles mark the Sito dell’Acqua (Water site), always designed by master Luzzati. Follow the tiles and walk behind the farmhouse, then take the dirt road that goes slightly uphill to the first group of cypress trees where you will find the art works of the Sito del Fuoco (Fire site) featuring some peculiar red glasses which literally glow in the sunlight.

The dirt road takes you directly to the next destination however, the good thing about the pace is that you can also wander among the vineyard rows and discover some spooky Signpost heads. As you wander around you get to the impressive Cascina Castello, through a sort of "vineyard door", a work designed by Ugo Nespolo, until you reach the building.

On the left you can see the observatory, a structure you can climb up to have a 360° view of the top, whereas inside a series of educational boards tell the story of La Court and the vineyard cultivation. On the right-hand side of the farmhouse, used as an open-air cinema, there is a colourful Big Bench which obviously matches the hues of wine and which adults can climb and feel like they were children again.

As you walk past Cascina Castello you will return to wander through the vineyards while other artworks will appear and disappear until you reach another group of cypress trees where the installations of the Sito dell'Aria (Air site), always by the illustrious master Luzzati, stand out. It is a sort of metal cage from which colourful light and ethereal birds can escape, and which also ease your thoughts before you get back on the path.

Notes

The Art Park La Court is a great idea developed by Michele Chiarlo's company in Castelnuovo Calcea: to combine the ancient world of viticulture with the fantastic and modern world of works of art in an open-air museum. Therefore a walk through the vines turns into an educational game and it becomes accessible also to children who, as we know, do not care about wine as much as their fathers. Suitable for sport-type prams only on the main dirt road.

The Art Park is about two kilometres from the old town of Castelnuovo Calcea, where the remains of the castle from which the town takes its name are found. The castle already existed in the XII century, it was destroyed and rebuilt several times and today it is municipal property. An odd staircase stands out next to the church of Santo Stefano. The work is quite recent as it dates back to 2015, however it is an accurate copy of an ancient bridge dating back to the 13th century, it was the main access to the castle which was destroyed in 1965. The only difference today is that, instead of overlooking a waterway it overlooks a triangular-shaped square.

Suitable for: children aged 6 or above

Not suited to strollers ( younger kids should be carried in a backpack)

Elevation gain: +150 metres overall

Distance: 6 km overall

Estimated time: 2 hours

Route type: loop on asphalt, dirt road, footpath, grassy track

Starting altitude: 180 metres

Maximum altitude: 250 metres

When: all year round in absence of snow

A journey into the world of hazelnut guided by educational signs along a path that takes you to breathtaking landscapes characterized by the cultivation of this delicious fruit.

From Piazza del Municipio, overlooked by the parish church, you go down onto the main asphalt road and follow it, always downhill, past a sharp bend where there is another car park. Keep your eyes open and you will discover the various murals, always with hazelnut theme, which decorate the houses!

Continue downhill until you reach the junction with a larger road, the SP12. Follow it to the left ("Baldichieri" blue sign), please ignore the different junctions and stay on this one as you walk by the votive shrine dedicated to San Rocco as well as the first hazelnut educational signs featuring an in-depth study of pastries and oil (If the season is favourable it is possible to skip the asphalt road and walk on the nearby meadow to the right).

Continue in the same direction until you get to the first junction on the right (direction "Valporino") over a small bridge and reach the hazelnut defects board. You always stay on the asphalt and walk through a bucolic and relaxing valley and past the board on the harvesting, cleaning and drying of the fruit as well as on the pruning of the plant. The asphalt ends and turns into a dirt road which begins to climb sharply, first among the trees and then on pastures and open fields.

Once you reach a nice hazelnut grove follow the grassy track that runs alongside it and keep it to your right. Please bear in mind that you should not follow the reddish-white signs, but rather the wooden signs backwards. This way you will walk along a beautiful stretch on the ridge, very pleasant indeed. A sharp bend to the right will lead you towards the Bricco Trombetta houses and take you on the asphalt, follow it to the left until you get to the fertilisation and soil management sign. Here the path bends sharply to the right along the dirt road until it reaches a house and the hazelnut plant sign. You walk along the back of the house entering a thick wooded area and reach the sign on the interaction between the hazelnut tree and the environment.

You leave the woods for a moment to walk to a hazelnut grove, on your left, then you turn right at the sign on the castle and history of Castellero, you come out from the woods and reach another hazelnut grove. You have to pay attention here because there is no signage and you have to keep the cemetery as reference point. This way you can get to the provincial road where the territorial sign is located. Cross the SP12 and you will find yourself near the sports facilities, with some little tables, and the Parco Braida trim trail which is also accessible to the disabled.

From this point you simply climb up onto the provincial road and follow the road you took at the beginning.

Notes

The trail is presented backwards compared to the map provided by the Municipality, this is because the stretch from the trim trail to Bricco Trombetta is quite difficult to spot due to the lack of adequate signage. Whereas thanks to the direction suggested by us the whole route is easily identifiable. If you wish you can start directly from the trim trail and use the car park facilities of the cemetery; this way you could save about 1.5 km and 50 metres of elevation gain but in doing so you will miss the beautiful murals of Castellero.

Suitable for: children aged 6 or above

Not suited to strollers (younger kids should be carried in a backpack)

Elevation gain: +250 metres one-way

Distance: 3,5 km one-way

Estimated time: 1.30 hour one-way

Route type: linear out-and-back trail on dirt road, footpath and asphalt

Starting altitude: 175 metres

Arrival altitude: 400 metres

When: from spring to autumn

A hike in-between history and nature starting from the alleys of Monastero Bormida marked by the tower and ancient monastery to walk among the stones of the beautiful medieval bridge, and then climb up to the "small peak" of Bric del Moro through open pastures and charming woods.

From the large car park in Viale Indipendenza, near the sports centres (toilets), head towards the centre to cross the provincial road and reach the "Puntet", an ancient bridge, now underground, which leads to the former town entrance. Once you have passed the stone arch you reach the square which is divided between the Town Hall and the 18th century church (toilets and fountain). You bypass the massive ancient monastery, which became a fortress over the years, passing by the original tower separated from the rest of the building and united only by a characteristic raised bridge. Then you go down onto Via Cesare Battisti and reach the ancient medieval bridge over the Bormida river of Millesimo.

You cross it and turn around to enjoy the view of Monastero Bormida and continue straight on the asphalt road, which is equipped with sidewalk, towards Roccaverano and follow the sporadic red/white 5T signposts as well as the old yellow diamond-shaped signs. Continue on the main road beyond the cemetery, among fields and vineyards, walk by a votive pillar until you reach the little church of San Rocco (17th century) where the sidewalk ends. Just past the little church you have to pay attention to the junction to the right (wooden sign) that will make you leave the asphalt to continue on a path that initially descends and then continues parallel to the provincial road. Once you reach a wider dirt road just follow it and go right past a small stream, the Tatorba.

Continue straight uphill, passing through woodland and vines, while the view appears over Monastero Bormdida and the small church of San Rocco you have just passed. You will find the asphalt near some houses, follow it to the left until the end of the buildings and turn left onto the dirt road that starts to climb steadily again along a sunken stretch. You reach a junction with three routes, two of which go left: both routes are good, the only difference is that one is a path and the other a dirt road. Actually, they meet again shortly after to join another crossroads which you have to follow to the right. You pass by some other little houses and continue to the left until you reach a ridge where you can enjoy the view on both sides (panoramic sign).

Shortly afterwards you get to a junction with no signage. Turn right and you will find the signs after a while. A further junction will take you to the left, this time downhill. Don't worry, it only goes down for a little bit and then the road becomes flat as it passes through chestnut trees. It climbs up again a little bit and becomes flat again until you see the actual summit that you will reach after a short descent as you proceed along the path straight ahead. Walk along an open pasture that will offer an open view towards Bubbio and take the path to the left that goes up into the woods (sign 5T).

The actual summit can be reached with a short deviation from the main path, but, honestly, such a deviation is not necessary, it is better to continue along the main path which, after a nice flat stretch, arrives at a panoramic sign. Here the path 5T turns left and starts to descend steeply. You leave it and continue on the flat path until you reach some meadows and see the panoramic view promised by the sign.

Notes

The building overlooking the town, and which today houses the Town Hall, was originally a monastery founded in 1050 by Benedictine monks who came from the abbey of Fruttuaria (San Benigno Canavese) called by Aleramo, Marquis of Monferrato, in order to till the surrounding lands. However, it appears that a monastery of Longobard origin already existed in ancient times and this is proved by the cult of Santa Giulia, patron saint of the town to this day, and by the original name of the village known as the Monastery of Santa Giulia. The lands that the Benedictine monks found were called "deserta loca" or "Marquisate of Vasto", i.e. devastated land due to the countless raids by the Saracens. They built the bell tower, the church (where today there is the arch connecting the tower and the castle), the monastery and the bridge. It is one of the most important medieval works in the valley to connect the Langa to the sea as it was the only bridge that could be crossed all year round. The small chapel that is now in the centre of the main arch was originally a guard post where the transit toll was paid. It has gone through centuries of floods unscathed, including the 1994 flood when parapets, asphalt and the little chapel were torn apart, but not the arches that survived fearlessly. . . ".... undamaged over the centuries, because of that cement, where the friars spread the lime with the egg white; and with yolks they made eggnog...” (Augusto Monti, writer, teacher, politician born in Monastero Bormida in 1881; his students included Cesare Pavese, Giulio Einaudi, Massimo Mila, Leone Ginzburg, Salvatore Luna, Giancarlo Pajetta, Franco Antonicelli, Vittorio Foa, Tullio Pinelli). The monks left in 1393 when, with the transformation into a fortress, a feudal life began for the village.

Suitable for: children aged 6 or above

Not suited to strollers (younger kids should be carried in a backpack)

Elevation gain: +250 metres overall

Distance: 8,5 km overall

Estimated time: 3 hours overall

Route type: loop on asphalt and dirt road

Starting altitude: 320 metres

Minimum altitude: 210 metres

When: all year round in absence of snow

A hike that, with a swinging course, pleasantly takes you from the panoramic castle of Moncalvo through vineyards and cultivated fields to discover the agricultural world of Monferrato amid stunning landscapes.

Piazza Carlo Alberto is already impressive for its huge size and then you discover that it stands on what used to be one of the largest fortified complexes in the area. Before you begin your hiking tour, we suggest you go up to the Belvedere Bonaventura, whose access is under the arcades near the playground (fountain). The staircase climbs up to the top of the tower offering a panoramic all-round view on the surrounding hills, while an additional metal staircase leads to an even higher small tower.

After enjoying the magnificent view of the hills, you go back to Piazza Carlo Alberto, walking through all the arcades. If you pay attention, on the opposite side (at no. 23), you can see a grey façade with some "strange" inscriptions: it is the façade of the former Synagogue built in 1700. The curious thing is that very rarely did Jewish sites stand out like this on a public square, as if to underline the importance of this community in past centuries. The importance is emphasised by the presence, south of Moncalvo, of a Jewish cemetery which is still in use today.

Near the square, which is almost a continuation of the square itself, the arcades end and Piazza Garibaldi appears and is surrounded by historic houses and small shops. Continue to the right along Via Cissello until you are in front of the Palazzo Comunale where you will find the Moncalvo Civic Museum. A little further on, still walking along Via Cissello, take the ramp to the right which will take you down to Corso Regina Elena, a panoramic avenue from where you can enjoy a view overlooking the hills including the Sacro Monte di Crea.

You continue your walk on asphalt to the left and then, always keeping left, at the first junction (red/white signs) you go uphill along the tree-lined avenue. Once you are back among the houses turn right (white "polyambulatory" sign), then turn left at the following junction (red/white "505" sign) which takes you towards the sports fields La Valletta. Do not deviate and continue straight on until you reach a larger crossroads, where you turn left ("Strada Gessi" sign) and continue downhill until you reach the isolated church dedicated to St. Peter. The building, also known as "La Pieve", offers on the one hand some restful benches and on the other a cast of a Roman marble slab from the 2nd century AD.

Now take the dirt road that starts just before the holy building and runs through the vineyards up to a farmhouse. Right in front of it you take the dirt road to the left (you will see the red-and-white signs a bit later) which, slightly downhill, leads to the car park of the big Cascina Orsolina. Continue straight on (Strada Bricco Cappuccini), always on a dirt road along a pleasant and bucolic little valley until you reach some other buildings and the asphalt. Do not follow the asphalt and continue straight ahead on the dirt road, now alongside high reeds, until it joins a wider dirt road. You take it to the left and go uphill to arrive on the provincial road. You cross it and continue on the asphalt road, leaving the provincial road behind, and then go uphill again across a few houses.

The road ends at the parish of San Rocco. If the grass allows it you can walk behind the parish, otherwise you go around it and continue along the asphalt, slightly uphill. Soon afterwards you keep to the left ("San Martino" blue sign) always along the asphalt road that runs across the fields. Please pay attention to your left, you will find an uphill dirt road (red/white sign "Moncalvo 505") which, running alongside sunflower fields, reeds and vineyards across the gentle hills, will take you towards the provincial road.

Cross this road too and take Strada Pozzetta, downhill, which overlooks Moncalvo and the North-East hills. The road goes down with a large bend and lower altitude, it goes through some houses and then becomes unpaved again to proceed gently across the fields. Once you arrive near a shed take the dirt road to the left always climbing steeply between the fields and then into the woods to get to an asphalted road. Now turn right, still going uphill, and you will soon pass in front of the cemetery and by following the tree-lined avenue you will reach the church of San Francesco and its small playground.

The road that continues beyond the church leads to Corso XXV Aprile, once you cross it you enter the pedestrian street on Via XX Settembre which, going uphill, brings you back to the centre of the departure square.

Notes

An illustrious personage is Guglielmo Caccia, known as "il Moncalvo", also called "Raffaello del Monferrato" (Raphael of Monferrato) for being one of the major exponents of the Counter-Reformation painting art in Piedmont. Born in Montabone (near Acqui Terme) in 1568 he lived and worked mainly in Moncalvo where he died in 1625. Many of his works can be found mainly inside the church of San Francesco, where he is buried. Moncalvo boasts the Italian Touring Club's Orange Flag (www.bandierearancioni.it).

Suitable for: all ages

Suited to strollers

Elevation gain: irrelevant

Distance: 3,8 km overall

Estimated time: 1,30 hours overall

Route type: loop on asphalt

Medium altitude: 125 metres

When: all year round

An urban walk among impressive towers, gothic buildings and medieval squares which follow one another in a sort of hide-and-seek game where you can be totally "engrossed " in the discovery of details and scents.

From the large car park in Piazza del Campo del Palio, where the famous Palio was held, you go towards the curious red brick building of the Tax Commission to cross Corso Einaudi and, passing by the Covered Market where since 1925 it is possible to buy typical local products, you reach Piazza della Libertà overlooked by the Monumento agli Alpini (Monument of the Alpines).

Straight on, just before Piazza Alfieri, where the Palio of Asti is actually held (number 34 hosts the Tourist Office) take Via Giuseppe Gardini to the left and turn almost immediately left onto Via Astesano which leads to the homonymous, delightful, narrow and long square with a small playground and coffee tables. You walk along the whole street through the pedestrian footpath on Via Repubblica Astese, at the end of it turn slightly to the right and you will reach the beautiful Piazza Statuto overlooked by the 12th century medieval Torre Guttuari which is still in use today. The Guttuari were Ghibellines and it was precisely this place that saw the fights between the Guelph and Ghibelline factions during the 14th century ending with the expulsion of the Guttuari in 1304 and the destruction of most of their palaces to make way for Piazza delle Erbe.

Following the line of medieval porticoes, you reach Piazza San Secondo where the façades of the Collegiate Church and Palazzo Civico (Town Hall), stand side by side. The holy building dates back to the 13th-15th century, but it still has its 11th century bell tower and the central part of the 10th century crypt and, in a side aisle, the drapes of the Palio races are kept and preserved.

With your back to the Town Hall, take the narrow Via dei Cappellai and immediately turn right onto Via Incisa and go past the 14th century Palazzo del Podestà, a fortified house. The narrow street leads to the commercial Corso Alfieri, walk along it on the left until you reach the mighty 13th century Comentina Tower, once used as a command post for the Palio race which at the time was a "long run" (i.e. it was run through the city streets and not on a circuit). Strangely enough, the castle that encloses it is not of the same period, it is a neo-Gothic style work dating back to 1898. On the square, to your right, you will find the Alganon Gardens where you can freshen up a bit (fountain).

Walk along Corso Alfieri, now marked by a series of museum buildings such as Palazzo Mazzetti, seat of the Civic Museum. Just a few steps away you find the Romanesque crypt and Sant'Anastasio Museum which has some archaeological remains of four churches dating back to 7th-17th century. They are opposite Palazzo Ottolenghi, on the other side of the street, which is home to the Risorgimento Museum as well as to the Museum of the Partisan Garibaldi Division, while further ahead lies the octagonal Torre De Regibus, dating back the 13th century.

Palazzo Alfieri, where the playwright Vittorio Alfieri was born in 1749 and which today houses the Alfierano Museum, as well as the Guglielminetti Museum, leads to Piazza Cairoli, at the bottom of which lies an impressive plane tree planted in 1849. A last stretch along Corso Alfieri takes you in front of the Red Tower, a building dating back to the 1st century A.D. whose lower part consists of sixteen sides; this is what remains of the ancient entrance gate to the city. During the XI century it was built to be used as bell tower for the nearby church. Although it is not part of the trail, a visit to Palazzo Michelerio with the Paleontological Museum is definitely worthwhile.

Take the paved Via Varrone to the right past the Domus Romana which, under an inhabited building, hosts the remains of a patrician house with its rich paving. When the street seems to end in front of a building in Piazzetta S. Brunone, take Via Cardinal Massaia to the right reaching first a building of Medieval origin remodernized in the Renaissance period that houses the Palio Museum, and then the Cathedral of Asti: a magnificent example of Gothic architecture in Piedmont. Inside there are baptismal basins dating back to the 8th century and to 1229 which are based on the remains of Roman columns dating back to the 1st-2nd century BC.

You cross Piazza della Cattedrale in full, while enjoying the side of the sacred building with the portico of the 14th century and the Romanesque bell tower of 1266 and then turn towards Via Cattedrale, which leads to Piazza Catena. Continue straight ahead along Via Hope and you will get right next to the Trojana Tower which, with its 44 metres of height, is the highest medieval tower in Piedmont. It is also called "clock tower" because in 1531 the Town Hall had a clock and a bell installed there to strike the hour, and it is still there today. You have to climb about 199 steps and you will be able to enjoy the view of the city from above.

Go straight ahead, along Via Cesare Battisti, cross Corso Dante and continue under the Portici Rossi keeping to the left. The arcades end shortly and you continue along the Corso. The stretch itself is less interesting, but it is necessary to reach the jewel of the architectural complex of San Pietro in Consavia, built in the 12th century as a hospital for the Order of the Knights of Jerusalem, next to the church dedicated to the Holy Sepulchre. In the 14th century it also became Grand Priory of Lombardy, with control of the Order in Northern Italy. The oldest part is the Rotunda, built to recall the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, while the square-shaped building is the chapel of Valperga dating back to 1446. The buildings, which are now deconsecrated, are used as exhibition centre.

After the tour you go back to the portico area and turn left towards Piazza Vittorio Alfieri, where you started your walk. At the end of the square, keeping left, you will see the entrance to the shady Resistance Park with benches, fountains and with playground, once you walk through it you will return to Piazza del Campo del Palio.

Notes

Capital of Langhe and Monferrato, Asti was already known in Roman times as Hasta. However, its most flourishing period was during the Middle Ages when it became a Free Commune with the right to mint money and was, therefore, an important centre for many trades. Today it is known above all for its wines and for the famous historical Palio with the horse race held the first Sunday of September.

Suitable for: all ages

Not suited to strollers (younger kids should be carried in a backpack)

Elevation gain: +60 metres one-way

Distance: 0,5 km one-way

Estimated time: 0,15 hours one way

Route type: linear out-and-back trail on asphalt and grassy track

Starting altitude: 340 metres

Arrival altitude: 400 metres

When: all the year round in absence of snow

A very easy walk, also suitable for younger kids, combining art and fantasy in its purest state, it starts from an unusual and colourful panoramic church and then through the vineyards of Moscato to reach a display of giant crayons!

From Coazzolo you walk about 1.8 km along a hilly road ("Cappella di Tremlett" brown signs) until you reach the small car park next to a country chapel located in a panoramic position on the ridge of a hill. The view alone here could be worth the trip however, the chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Carmine and dating back to the seventeenth century adds a touch of liveliness that should not be dismissed. The work is by the English artist David Tremlett (the same one who, with the American artist Sol Lewitt, has also worked on the well-known "chapel of the Brunate" in La Morra). Next to the chapel there is an esplanade with benches that encourage meditation in front of a magnificent view.

After revitalising yourself through the view and the colours of the chapel, you leave the holy building behind and continue your walk along a short stretch of asphalt, passing by a farm entrance. The road climbs slightly uphill but when it turns left, downhill, you leave it to proceed on a clear grassy track to the right ("Vigna dei Pastelli" sign) which goes uphill more steeply, by crossing the rows of vines and heading roughly towards a hut on top of the hillock.

Just a few steps and the magic begins: the vine support poles in front of each row have been replaced by giant colourful crayons which create a sort of fairy-tale dreamlike setting that fills you with joy, while the view reveals the magnificent panorama of the Moscato d'Asti vineyards. The walk is short, but the time you will spend among these rows will expand in a sort of magical way...

Notes

In Coazzolo the castle has been overlooking the small village and its surroundings since the end of the 13th century. North of the town centre, towards the cemetery, there is one of the colourful giant benches that have been quite popular and appearing for some time among the hills of Langhe Monferrato Roero.

Suitable for: all ages

Suited to sport-type strollers

Elevation gain: +100 metres overall

Distance: 2 km overall

Estimated time: 1-hour overal

Route type: loop on dirt road

Starting altitude: 370 metres

Minimum altitude: 275 metres

When: all year round

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 (www.borghipiubelliditalia.it) and Orange Flag of TCI (www.bandierearancioni.it), 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.

Notes

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. (www.paliodegliasini.it).

Suitable for: children aged 6 or above, not suited to strollers (younger kids should be carried in a backpack)

Elevation gain: +250 metres -100 metres one-way (not consecutive)

Distance: 5.5 km one-way Estimated time: 1.30 hour one-way

Route type: linear out-and-back trail on dirt road, footpath and asphalt

Starting altitude: 306 metres

Arrival altitude: 415 metres

When: spring, autumn, low-snow winter

You can reach the famous Romanesque abbey on foot like ancient pilgrims starting from Castelnuovo Don Bosco, passing through a series of little churches, and across panoramic ridges cultivated with vineyards from where your eyes can wander towards the highest peaks, from Monviso to Gran Paradiso up to the Monte Rosa massif.

We start our walk shortly after Castelnuovo Don Bosco, along the SP16 towards Berzano, near the small and delightful Romanesque church dedicated to Saint Eusebio. Right next to the 12th century building our itinerary begins, well-signposted by a panel. The first stretch climbs steeply on a dirt road embedded in a trench and quickly gets to the ridge of the hill where the view appears on the right towards Castelnuovo Don Bosco. The route proceeds with continuous ups and downs on a more open and airy dirt road, always keeping below the edge of the ridge and heading north, guided by the red/white 101 signs and those of the cycle path.

After a first stretch of vineyards and open fields you will reach some houses and the asphalt road. Turn right and turn back slightly (brown signpost). When the road becomes unpaved you turn right, passing through the vineyards and climbing the ridge under which you have just walked and you will reach the little church of Santa Maria di Cornareto, a small sacred building situated up on a panoramic hillock. The church is mentioned in some documents dating back to 1298. The view extends all around and invites you to take a meditative break while the third church of the itinerary is already visible on the following hill.

From Santa Maria you go back along the road you have just walked until you reach a group of houses which you walk by, keeping them to your right. A very short straight road leads to the crossroads that takes you up to the church of San Michele Arcangelo, whose current structure dates back to 1700 although it rises on a pre-existing building already documented in 1205.

After enjoying the building and the view you walk back to the crossroads you just left and move on, with a few ups and downs, passing by another group of houses and again back on asphalt for a short time. You are on the top of a hill where you can see, behind you, the two churches you just visited and, in front of you, your destination with the Vezzolano village.

You walk down up to a pylon where you leave the road and follow a path to the right. After a short descent you face a steep climb that leads, passing through a wood, onto a hill. Follow the traffic signs to the right and after a wide bend go down towards the destination that certainly deserves a more in-depth visit: the Abbey of Santa Maria di Vezzolano which dates back to 1095. The structure skilfully merges Romanesque elements with innovative Gothic elements; a very interesting feature is the pier on small columns (jubè) that divides the nave and is characterised by polychrome bas-reliefs probably dating back to the second half of the 13th century. The well-preserved cloister houses sculpted capitals and a fine cycle of 14th century frescoes.

This is the official story however, according to some popular rumours, the site already existed in the 8th century as the chapel of a disappeared castle. In fact, a legend says it was actually founded by Charlemagne who, in the year 774, was hunting in the woods of Albugnano. The sight of a macabre dance of skeletons caused him a serious epilepsy attack and, once he was healed thanks to the Virgin Mary's intercession, the emperor himself commissioned the construction of the Abbey.

The return walk is on the outward route, or (but only during the school period) it is possible to continue on asphalt to Albugnano (1.7 km) and then use the 15pm Albugnano-Chieri bus line.

Note

The route should be avoided after days of heavy rain because of the tenacious mud and because in the final stretch the path is channeled and could turn into a stream. At the beginning of the season it is easy to find brambles along the path, therefore it is better to have a stick to remove them.