Monferrato - Piedmont
Lush in summer, colorful in autumn and often covered by snow in winter, the Monferrato scenery must be enjoyed slowly, perhaps on foot or by bike thanks to countless trails, as well as typical dishes and wines of this generous land.
Vineyards as far as the eye can see, cultivations and a few small wooded areas…from one hill to another you can see very small Romanesque parish churches and imposing castles, that dominate the ancient villages below, sanctuaries and farmhouses of past years returned to their ancient splendor: this is the typical landscape of Monferrato.
Located in the Southern Piedmont, the western most region of Northern Italy is not far from Turin and can be easily reached from Genoa and Milan. It can be divided into Upper and Lower Monferrato, and contrary to what it might be natural to think, the first is located in the North and the second in the South, and has little to do with the reliefs that reach on average 600 metres.
Asti, the capital and heart of the province, has a wonderful historical centre, well-kept and full of monuments. The urban structure is medieval, as well as the finest remaining towers (about twenty from the more than hundreds that have vanished over time) such as the octagonal tower De Regibus, the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta that was remodeled at different times and today a charming succession of styles with baroque chapels contrasting with the elegant Gothic lines of the interior, the collegiate church of San Secondo or the complex of San Pietro in Consavia, the Palazzo Zoia and that of the Podestà (Podesta).
The Baroque style can be also found in the façade and in the altars of many churches, in reality of Romanesque foundation, and in many stately mansions, among which that of Vittorio Alfieri, or the nearby Palazzo Mazzetti, today art gallery and site for exhibitions of contemporary art, that can be visited inside allowing citizens and tourists to appreciate eighteenth-century stuccoes and furnishings of the main floor.
The 14 districts of Asti, live again their glorious past every year on the day dedicated to the Palio, which is older than that of Siena, that is run on the third Sunday in September... a generous month of events, such as the famous national wine competition Douja d’Or or the Festival delle Sagre, where every Consortium of local tourist offices of the area allow guests to taste their own typical dishes, such as: Bollito misto con il bagnetto verde e rosso (mixed boiled meat with red and green sauce), Bagna caoda (to which also other festivities are dedicated), Tajarin alla Piemontese, Farinata, Polenta con spezzatino di cinghiale (polenta with wild boar stew), Finanziera alla rustica, Agnolotti and Raviolini al Plin and tasty goat and cow cheeses; or mixed cheeses, such as the famous Robiole or the most known Castelmagno. And for dessert hazelnut cake or the Bonet, all this – it goes without saying - served accompanied by the famous local wines - Barbera d'Asti and Monferrato, Freesia and Grignolino d'Asti, Ruchè Castagnole Monferrato, Albugnano, of Nebbiolo grapes like the most famous Barolo and Barbaresco, or the sweet Malvasia di Casorzo and Moscato d’Asti.
No, we have not forgotten it: passing from an event to a countryside festival, more or less one every weekend, the famous and the fragrant truffle, especially in the fine white variety, is celebrated several times in November, culminating in the Fiera nazionale del tarfufo bianco del Monferrato (National White Truffle Festival of Monferrato).