Are you ready to discover the Basso Piemonte?
Imagine yourself surrounded by orderly rows of vineyards, enjoying fine wines, surrounded by beautiful hilly landscapes: welcome to Basso Piemonte.
A fascinating territory to explore and enjoy, characterized by soft hills dotted with vineyards, imposing medieval castles and ancient villages, which has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. Among the provinces of Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria from west to east we find the wine-producing landscapes of the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, ready to discover them?
Between the river Tanaro, which curves from Ceva to Alba (considered the “capital” of the Langhe), and the river Bormida the Langhe stretch out, divided into the Lower Langa, Upper Langa and Astigiana Langa. “Langa”, in the local language, is the thinnest crest of a hilly chain and from here derives the expression “to go by Langa”. A vast complex of hills and reliefs that wind their way exalting the rural landscapes, and that inside them hide a real wine culture known and appreciated all over the world.
It is no coincidence that the best season to visit the Langhe is the one that is about to begin: the light and colours of the autumn leaves make the views even more magical, moreover autumn coincides with the grape harvest and the truffle harvest. Wine is the watchword of these territories, Barolo, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco are just some of the most precious products of these Piedmontese hills. In addition to wine, the other undisputed lord of the Langhe is the white truffle of Alba (an international fair takes place every year in its honour), rare but unmissable in the cuisine of these territories. The typical products of the area do not end here and just think of cheeses such as Robiola di Roccaverano, agnolotti del Plin, the hazelnut “tonda gentile delle Langhe” and bagna cauda. Enveloping and refined flavours capable of making anyone fall in love: these are the Langhe.
Among the undulating plateaus stand medieval castles that have always been in harmony with nature, such as the Falletti Castle in Barolo from which you can admire a breathtaking view. Must visits are Cherasco with its castle built in 1348 at the behest of the Duke of Milan, Luchino Visconti, and Alba with its charming historic centre. Small towns and villages surrounded by enchanting landscapes that appear several times in literature thanks to the pen of Cesare Pavese, fond of these lands.
We now cross the Tanaro and enter the Roero, which is separated from the Langhe by the river. This region takes its name from the noble Asti family of Roero who dominated these places for several centuries, starting from the Middle Ages. A harsher territory with wild nature, almost in opposition to that of the Langhe. Here the “capital” is Bra, rich in palaces and churches, with the typical atmosphere of the Piedmontese Baroque.
The food and wine specialities are not lacking in this area either. If you want to taste the flagships of the area, the Roero DOCG, a red wine from the Nebbiolo grape variety, and the Roero Arneis DOCG, an ancient white grape variety, a stop in Canale, where the Enoteca Regionale del Roero is located, is a must. The heart of the region is right here in the ancient cellars where you can breathe in the dedication to viticulture. Is there anything better?
The last stage of this first tour of Lower Piedmont: the historic region of Monferrato, among the rivers Po, Tanaro, Belbo and Bormida. For the most part in the territory of the province of Alessandria, to a lesser extent in the province of Asti, it extends southwards to the Ligurian Apennines. Like the Langhe also Monferrato is divided into three portions: Lower Monferrato (or Casalese) to the north of which Casale Monferrato is the main centre; Monferrato Astigiano where there are several historical villages such as Moncalvo and Montiglio; Upper Monferrato to the south with Acqui Terme.
This is also a land of traditions and flavours able to welcome those who discover it, among the gentle hills that extend as far as the eye can see and the plains with flooded rice fields crossed by the river Po. It is unthinkable not to feel peace and serenity in these places, and it is equally unthinkable not to stop here in the welcoming cellars with excellent food and wine proposals. Among the most typical wines here are Barbera, Moscato, Freisa and Grignolino, which are even more divine when accompanied by the speciality of Casalese risottos.
It seems now clear that the best season to immerse yourself in the wonders and tastes of Lower Piedmont is autumn, but also any other time of the year is excellent to appreciate these lands. Folklore lovers cannot miss the Palio of Asti, which takes place in September.
Traditions and culture that link the past to the present, nature and architecture that blend together gently and, as we have seen, world-famous food and wine of excellence. All of this is Piedmont.
See you next time!