Part three in the series of articles devoted to the most immersive and lyrical itineraries in which to treat yourself to a picnic.
After the first and second dates we will delve into the Monferrato area, which offers glimpses and enchanting places of nature ideal for a snack on the meadows.
As we have already explained in our guide on picnics, this type of outdoor meal is an ‘experience that is composed of a special form of conviviality, of adherence to the landscape and its regenerative power that is not just a food event but a celebration of being together.
It is also essential to properly stock up on a few bottles of excellent wine; here is a vedemecum on the subject: the perfect wines for your picnic.
A historical region of Piedmont, it is located almost entirely in the province of Alessandria and occupies a large part of that of Asti.
A profusion of hills, gentle or sloping, green or barbaric, dotted with forests and vineyards: Monferrato has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Langhe and Roero, because of its unique character as a territory.
The picnic is not just a food event but a celebration of being together.
Bialbero of Casorzo
Halfway between Asti and Casale Monferrato, the small town of Casorzo is home to a curious wonder of nature: a bialbero, or cherry tree grown on top of a mulberry tree.
Surrounded by a small fence and a few small tables there it is, the strange intruder among other mulberry trees: generously the mother plant has accommodated the cherry tree, whose branches and foliage now conspicuously exceed the roommate by about 5 meters.
No one knows exactly how the two trees came together into one. Probably some bird dropped a seed on which then grew roots, which slowly made their way into the hollow trunk of the mulberry tree until they reached the ground and soared skyward.
The best time to observe this curious phenomenon is definitely spring. If you have always dreamed of the Japanese experience of Hanami, the practice of admiring the blossoming of cherry trees, you can always start here: the cherry tree is tinged white, while the mulberry tree below is still bare. This is the time of year when the gap between the two trees is most obvious and spectacular.
Abbey of Vezzolano in Albugnano
TheAbbey of Santa Maria di Vezzolano is a religious building in Romanesque and Gothic style, among the most important medieval monuments in Piedmont, located in the town of Albugnano in the province of Asti.
Vezzolano Abbey is located at the foot of the hill in a quiet area surrounded by woods and cultivated fields. Ideal places to hold a picnic with a view among the trees of the Romanesque bell tower and the apse of the nave.
The religious complex was home to a community of Augustinian canons and thus formally was never an abbey in the true sense of the word. However, it has always been recognized by this appellation, so the institutions that run it have also decided to maintain this custom.
We recommend that youalso visit the interior: admission is free and is allowed every Saturday and Sunday during the summer period from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
One of the pearls of the place is the cloister: one of the best preserved in Piedmont, in which there are carved capitals and an important 14th-century fresco cycle with the remarkable depiction of the Contrast of the Three Living and the Three Dead.
The castle stands in a dominant position atop the hill on which the small but pretty village of Montemagno lies, enclosed around the church and crossed by the road to Lucca.
The building provides an example for the Camaiorean of a stately residence and at the same time a refuge in case of siege.
The site offers a beautiful walk and evocative path that contours the castle with panoramic views, while access to the building is via a drawbridge over the moat that surrounds it.
It features fine decorative elements, including small arches, terracotta bas-reliefs, and Ghibelline swallowtail battlements. In fact, the numerous modifications the castle underwent over the centuries profoundly altered its original structure, transforming it from a military fortress into an elegant country residence.
Castagnole Monferrato picnic area
Just outside the town of Castagnole Monferrato, the completely open panorama of this picnic area suggests a stop.
It’s all perfect if you prefer the comfort of a table, to the softness of grass.
You will feel surrounded by a sea of hills and can take some artistic photos.
Here are the coordinates 44.96916384269516, 8.298827920349623
Church of San Quirico in Cella Monte
A short walk from the village of Cella Monte, it is possible to stop at the small church of San Quirico. A cozy place, truly picturesque and set in a scenic location for a picnic overlooking the nearby village of Rosignano Monferrato.
This small stone building, in Romanesque style, has a rectangular floor plan and semicircular apse that can be admired through a large, low stained-glass window.
It was once the old parish church, which once decommissioned, remained a pilgrimage destination: men and women went there to pray to the healing of children and have their clothes blessed. This is evidenced by thevotive offer ings hanging on the right wall.
Here are the coordinates to reach the church: 45.07718923554598, 8.38846480424036
Belvedere of Moleto
A few kilometers from the Church of St. Quirico, another magical place is worth a visit-Moleto.
When you reach the medieval village, you can park your car and walk up the narrow street and admire its beauty: Villa Celoria and its well-kept jardin, until you reach the open space that leads you to the small Romanesque church of San Michele, with its belvedere.
This is where you can stop for your picnic, but we recommend a sinoria snack to make the most of this large meadow, which is perfect for experiencing during the cool evening hours, then waiting for night to fall to appreciate the stars (the lighting here is really subdued).
The rustic and atmospheric tables of the Closed Bar will entice you to have a few drinks-don’t linger, enjoy the day!