To the north of the A21 highway, the towns of Baldichieri and Castellero offer a very different landscape from the very infrastructured view of the valley. The way of the Count (“La Via del Conte”) is an itinerary named after an ancient route that used to link these two old villages, and, as a consequence, their castles, using the crest of the hill that joins them. The trails on the ridges were safer, less prone to flooding and robbery attacks and gave easy access to croplands. Baldichieri (the first records date back to a document dated year 1041) consolidated a medieval village from which the valley of Monale Stream and the valley of Triversa stream were dominated, where the Roman road Via Fulvia stretched. The town proved its role and importance until the 16th century, when the castle was destroyed by the troops of the French General C. de Cossè, Count of Brissac in 1553. Today, a plateau and the traces of the fortifications remain of the castle. After the castle was demolished, the village developed first on the mountainside and then along the plain. Castellero has its emblem in the castle. It was destroyed in 1132 and then rebuilt. The castle dominates the entire territory in terms of image and position. It was an Anti-Guelph stronghold in history and during the civil strifes. The village grew around the castle and the fifteenth-century parish church and thanks to the use by aristocrats, who developed a medieval settlement here employing the inhabitants mainly at the service of the farms of the castle. Therefore, the itinerary “The Way of the Count” is divided into some sections that identify a system of minor, lighter roads, but it is still visible and must be appreciated. From the village of Baldichieri, “The Way of the Count” runs along the plateau on which the stronghold was positioned, and then goes on a dirt road, all the way to Castellero. The Via dei Piglioni links Baldichieri to the Green Ways and to Valleandona – Vallebotto park. In the end, the path of Bricco Trombetta allows you to appreciate the territory of the municipality of Castellero, with lovely views that are little known. Walking on the stretches of this itinerary helps you to understand a past in which the economy was mainly rural but it could also make money from the trade routes in the valley (the Via Fulvia, which linked Asti and Chieri is an example: it was very busy and had a hospital foundation capable of hosting pilgrims and merchants) and the abundance of water in the basin of Triversa stream, which was crucial in the construction of many mills and preindustrial structures capable of transforming a renewable energy source into work: flowing water.
Connection with the Special Natural Reserve of Andona, Botto and Grande Valleys: Baldichieri train station (145 m) - C.na Mandoletta (180 m) - Green Ways stretch crossroad – Valleandona (210 m)
Length: 2,5 km
Start walking north on the county road from the Baldichieri -Tigliole train station, which crosses, in order, the Triversa stream and the regional road n. 10 “Padana Inferiore” and goes beneath the Turin-Piacenza highway and then reaches the village of Baldichieri. From the center of the village go east on the road that is known as “via dei Piglioni”. As you leave the village, the path is flat and runs on an asphalt road for about 700 meters. After it ends near the C.na Mandoletta, you go onto a cart track which climbs gradually up all the way to the top of the ridge, which is a watershed between Baldichieri-Monale Valley and Valleandona Valley. From this point you can reach the Valleandona – Valle Botto fossiliferous Reserve as you walk north on a stretch of the Green Ways (this project dates back to a few years ago and its aim was to identify, upkeep and report routes in the province of Asti to walk on foot, by bike or on horseback).
Leg 1: Baldichieri (150 m) – Castellero (220 m)
Length: 3,5 km
As you start off from the center of Baldichieri, you walk on an old way, which used to connect the village and the castle, built on the rock overlooking the village and was destroyed in 1553. Then the path runs along the plateau on which the fortress stood. A building of the fortress and the traces of the original layout are still visible. A little further on, take a dirt road through the beautiful ridge that connects Baldichieri and Castellero. This stretch is called “il Cammino del Conte - The Way of the Count”. Its view sweeps over the hills characterized by a mosaic of croplands (hazelnut orchards, vineyards and plantations) and forest-shrub formations on the way back. A second track on the valley bottom runs next to this main path, which runs along Monale Stream and joins the first, at the Cascina del Merlo. Later, it continues along the ridge all the way to the village of Castellero.
Leg 2: Castellero (220 m) – Valporino Stream Valley (175 m) - Cascine Graudi (240 m) - Castellero Stream Valley (160 m) - Baldichieri (150 m)
Length: 8.0 km
The territory of Castellero is a natural balcony from which you can observe valleys and hills. Beyond the hills, the Alpine chain stands out and looks like a mirage and not so far on a clear day. The natural cultivation of hazelnut gave new impetus to the rural economy which was in a decline. During the summer and autumn, it is a spur for very popular local feasts and festivals. In this context, the “Sagra della Nocciola - Festival of Hazelnut” held in October, includes a conference on hazelnut growing, a market of local products and an exhibition of the crafts of the past. The village is embellished by the privately owned castle, which overlooks the town and connotes it. In the fourteenth century, the castle was destroyed during the conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Then it became the fiefdom of the De Ponte family, who rebuilt it. You walk down to west from the historic center along the county road, enroute the industrial area beyond which the most suggestive part begins, which leads you all the way to Cascine Bricco Trombetta on a dirt path. The route offers scenic views of the hills that have not yet been disfigured by road infrastructure and industrial sheds and winds through wooded areas and small croplands. From Bricco Trombetta, you go down again, first gradually, then brusquely, towards the valley of Valporino Stream, beyond which the trail goes back up to the ridge of Cascine Graudi. After walking for a kilometer on the ridge, you go down and reach the valley of Castellero Stream and then walk on the county road on its left bank for about
a kilometer. As you turn right after leaving a group of farmhouses behind, you leave the county road and continue for a stretch along Capra Stream. After about five hundred meters, you come to cross the county road. Here you leave the valley bottom and start going up again heading north-east until you get back on “The Way of the Count” that was a part of the outbound leg. Now go in the opposite direction for a little while and you will be back in Baldichieri shortly.
I tracciati GPS dei percorsi provengono da fonti varie e sono costituiti da più sezioni composte in un unico tracciato. Alcuni di essi possono avere un senso direzionale diverso da quello descritto sulla guida. Per una corretta percorrenza si raccomanda sempre la lettura del testo descrittivo e della mappa. Le informazioni contenute su tutti i media non impegnano la responsabilità di autori ed editori.