From Bra to Cisterna d’Asti: country of peach orchards, honey and Arneis white wine
This route begins in the town of Bra and, passing through ten different municipal territories, for much of the way follows the complex series of ‘Rocche’ inland cliff formations singular to the area before arriving at its destination in Cisterna d’Asti. A fairly easy route, though obviously including many hills, it is rich in both natural wonders and points of historical interest, with the landscape itself being probably the main attraction of them all.
These hills are fairly recent geologically speaking and their development and subsequent erosion have produced the landscape we admire today. The ‘Rocche’ are products of that erosion: these are steep-sided cliffs and gulleys full of twists and turns, natural turrets and towers and sheer rock faces. The single, extraordinary natural event that has most influenced their formation is the so-called ‘capture of the Tanaro river’, with its subsequent effects on the local water table. The flora of the area is also singular, with the coexistence of both typically Mediterranean and Alpine species. Local fauna and bird species are particularly abundant, as testified by the Piedmontese Bird Observatory situated in the Cascina Serralunga Centre in the village of Baldissero d’Alba.
This route takes off from the town of Bra, after a visit to its attractive historical centre. As you leave the town, you will enter the thickly wooded area of San Michele which will lead you to Pocapaglia, once plaything of the powerful Falletti family, with the castle that dominates the town testifying to their presence over the centuries. The walk continues through the spectacular ‘rocche’ rock formations to arrive in Sommariva Perno, which possesses a castle that King Vittorio Emanuele II used for trysts with his lover, ‘Bela Rosin’.
You now leave Sommariva and head for Baldissero d’Alba, once part of the feudal territories in the Asti area belonging to the Saluzzo Marquisate. Next on the list is Montaldo Roero, with a cylindrical medieval tower dominating the two parts of the area, neatly divided on the one side into wild ‘rocche’ and woodland and, on the other, hills of immaculately cultivated vines. You will pass through these vineyards to reach Monteu Roero, where- naturally enough – some excellent wines are produced, and then on to Montà, where the Ecomuseum of the ‘Rocche’ is situated – where you can learn all about their geology. From here, the ‘Honey Road’ begins (‘strada del miele’). When you start to see peach orchards among the vineyards, you know you’re nearing Canale, which every year holds a Peach Festival in honour of the fruit. You walk along a winding road past many ‘ciabot’ – little buildings similar to stone cottages that were once used to store agricultural implements – until you come to Cisterna d’Asti, the final destination of this route. Here, the hills are literally covered in vineyards and, after a visit to the local Museum of Traditional Crafts, situated in the town’s castle – we advise a well-earned rest to sample some local food and wonderful wine.