From Asti to Moncalvo following in the paces of Aleramo, mythical first Marquis of Monferrato, through Ruché, Grignolino and Malvasia territory
Castiglione is one of Asti’s most ancient ‘ventine’, the traditional name for the hamlets that surround the town. Today, it is also one of Asti’s most prized residential areas. Castiglione is a lively place, holding many fairs and festivals, such as the historical ‘fagiolata’ (bean feast) on 2nd January or the tradition of ‘Canté J’Euv’ (singing for eggs) held before Easter where singers pass from farm to farm singing for a gift of eggs, food and – of course – wine.
Leave in a north-easterly direction, crossing the Valmoretta road and begin the climb between ‘cascina’ farm houses along Via Castellazzo or Strada Carnevale road, which both lead to Portacomaro. The higher part of this village is still enclosed within the remains of medieval walls and the local wine shop, Bottega del Grignolino, is situated in the cylindrical medieval tower. Descend now down Strada San Michele road, until you come to Località Berruti, and continue directed north along the banks of Rio di Vallescura stream until you begin to climb the Scurzolengo hill. This village is entirely situated along its main street and includes the imposing 14th century castle which was built on the site of the ‘castrum’ or walled village that preceded it.
On leaving the village, you carry on along winding lanes that take you down to the valley floor, then climb rapidly up the other side to Castagnole Monferrato, home of Ruché wine. This is a rural place but possesses several interesting historical buildings, some 15th century, clustered around the parish church. While you are here, take a stroll along the ‘Muraglia’, the defence walls that surround the little belvedere at the top of the village. Now it’s time to leave Castagnole in the direction of Montemagno, along an almost flat stretch that winds through cultivated fields and tracts of woodland. Montemagno is known as ‘Città del Pane’ (bread town), capital of the typical bread of the Monferrato. The central square is very picturesque and leads up to the oddly irregular castle at the top of the hill. The path now takes you across Bric Pievano hill towards Viarigi, with its medieval watch tower.
To continue the route, you need to return to the entrance of the village and pass by the Stantiglia spring, then continue along Pazzoglio Valley in a northerly direction towards Casorzo, home town of Malvasia wine. You arrive at the town in the Madonna delle Grazie area and then continue through the centre until you leave its western edge where, after a few turns in the road, you will come to the path that will take you to Grazzano Badoglio. The Abbey church here contains the mortal remains of Aleramo, legendary founding father of the Monferrato. Not far from the village you will come across the panoramic Madonna dei Monti hill, and a nature reserve, the Querceta, plus two well-signposted nature trails. You will now begin your descent in a south-westerly direction, passing by the hamlet of Costanzana and, having crossed San Pietro road and San Martino road, you climb again towards Moncalvo, a populous town known as the smallest ‘city’ in Italy and famous for an eclectic mix of local attractions, including the ‘Fair of the Fat Ox’, white truffles and jazz!