Villages, churches and castles in the hills of Monferrato
Lush countryside covered with vineyards, ancient villages and parish churches, castles perched atop rolling hills: this is the province of Asti, the beating heart of the Monferrato region known for its wine production. Every year it hosts the Douja d’Or, awarded to the best Piemonte wines.
The city of Asti, along the ancient Via Francigena, has been nicknamed the city of a hundred towers since the Middle Ages. Many have since disappeared, but you can visit the 12th-century, 44-metre-high Torre Troyana tower, a symbol of the city. Don’t miss the Collegiate Church of Saint Secundus, the largest Gothic-style church in Piedmont dedicated to St Mary of the Assumption and St Gotthard, Palazzo Alfieri, the birthplace of writer Vittorio Alfieri, and the baroque Palazzo Mazzetti, now a civic museum.
The most beautiful villages include Cocconato d’Asti, with magnificent views over the Versa Valley, Moncalvo, known as the smallest city in Italy, Mombaruzzo, famous for its amaretti biscuits, and Nizza Monferrato, where “hunchback” cardoon is grown. Albugnano is home to the splendid Romanesque-Gothic Abbey of Vezzolano. Don’t miss the castles of Piea, San Martino Alfieri, Montiglio and Castell’Alfero, as well as the 14th-century Costigliole d’Asti, which houses the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners.
Speaking of cuisine, local delicacies include agnolotti pasta, truffles, cured meats and, of course, bagna cauda. In summer and autumn, you can enjoy a picnic among the grapevines with local wines and cheeses.