INTRODUCING THE MONFERRATO AREA AND ITS UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
The Monferrato area is part of the provinces of Asti and Alessandria, in Piedmont, in the northwest of Italy; the area is in a favourable position, located at the centre of the triangle between the main industrial cities of Turin, Milan and Genoa. The area is called Monferrato Casalese and is located between the plain of the river Po and the Monferrato hills; in this region, you will find the town of Casale Monferrato (the historical capital) and about sixty municipalities, with a population of 110,000 people. Two different Unesco World Heritage Sites can also be found in the Monferrato Casalese: the Sacred Mount of Crea (that is part of the Sacred Mounts of Piedmont and Lombardy) and Monferrato of the Infernot (one of the six areas in The Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato).
The Regional Natural Park is a particularly fascinating example of the relationship between nature, religion and art. The Sacred Mount of Crea consists of the Sanctuary, 23 chapels, (not to be missed is “La salita al Calvario” and “L’incoronazione della Vergine” – the so-called “Paradise”) and five hermitages. The complex was built between 1589 and 1612, with a second building phase in the early XIXth century. The Sanctuary keeps paintings and frescoes of artists of great relevance.
Monferrato of the Infernot is the area characterised by a singular type of architectural construction, the infernot. These underground rooms were dug into a particular geological formation called Cantoni Stone. This is the origin of cellar extensions, dug and sculpted under the old houses.
In the Monferrato Casalese area, it is possible to relax and take part in outdoor activities like hiking, trekking, biking and nordic walking, in the Protected Area of the Po river or in the hills from where you can enjoy amazing landscapes throughout the seasons.
Some further ideas for you...
"Riso & Rose" is a spring festival that, in the various weekends throughout the month of May, offers, in Casale Monferrato and in the Municipalities of the territory, food and wine events, events connected to flowers and gardening, hobby, music and many occasions to discover the heritage of history, art, culture and landscape of Monferrato with its wine hills (declared "Unesco World Heritage Site" in 2014) and the "Piana del Po", the flat land near the largest river in Italy: the Po. The festival is "itinerant" with thematic events on the territory in the North West of Italy (between Piedmont and Lombardy and between the provinces of Alessandria, Asti, Vercelli and Pavia), rich in villages of astonishing landscapes, artistic sites and in historical and strong artisan tradition. The range of initiatives is very rich: visits to castles, residences, historical sites, wineries, distilleries, typical gastronomic handicrafts, thematic markets of hobbyism, outdoor life and flowers and musical and sports events. The proposals can be shared by all the families. A complete programme of events will be available in April.
The Monferrato area is also famous for its wines like Barbera and Grignolino (red wines) but also for the traditional pasta (agnolotti), the "salami" but also honey, biscuits (like the Krumiri, typical of Casale Monferrato), the meat (the fat ox is a long tradition) and, in autumn, for the so famous and rare white truffles. Particular recipes welcome the greediest visitors: the "Bagna Cauda" (a hot sauce with local oil, anchovies and possibly garlic to use with vegetables and meats), the "Fritto Misto" (speciality full of different parts of fried meat and accompanied by vegetables and pastries in batter) or the "Bonet" (pudding of ancient tradition, typical of Piedmont, based on eggs, sugar, milk, cocoa, liqueur and dried amaretti).
Among the fascinating experiences in Monferrato there is the visit to the "Infernot". These underground caves, carved by Man in ancient times and related to the production of local wines, are the treasures recognized by UNESCO in 2014, as the World Heritage Site "Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato". The infernots will open in several villages in May (on Sunday, during the events of “Rice and Roses”), and on Sunday 25 June, Sunday 17 September and Sunday 22 October. A lot of infernots, in public buildings and in private wineries, open periodically or can be visited by appointment.