Come to Piedmont and discover Monferrato
Large portions of Monferrato, with its vineyard landscapes, have been declared « World Heritage Site » along the hills of the Langhe and Roero. The hills to the north of the provinces of Asti and Alessandria are gentle slopes that wind through vineyards and hazelnut groves. An extensive landscaping and green that slopes to the plains of Casale Monferrato and Vercelli where they extend with rice fields producing the best rice in the world.
The territory of Monferrato with its rolling hills and small villages is yet to be discovered: nature trails perfect for walking, riding or cycling connect villages that have retained the rustic atmosphere of the past and have so much to tell of history and legends.
Besides the great importance in the field of paleontology (there are many fossils from the Miocene and the Pliocene when the sea covered the Po Valley and the hills of Monferrato) Monferrato is the territory of Infernot: small underground rooms entirely carved into the « Pietra da Cantoni » stone (local stone used to built also the so called « Casot« ) closely linked to the culture of wine.
Their constant temperature and humidity create an excellent environment for preserving the most precious bottles.
They are true works of art, architectural masterpieces made in the long winters by sculptors of Monferrato, born from tradition and from farmer knowledge, now recognized by UNESCO as « An exceptional living testimony to the historical tradition of grape growing, winemaking processes , a social context, and a rural economy based on the culture of wine. « They can be visited in many villages during the events or by appointment. They have been counted, protected and promoted by the Ecomuseo della Pietra da Cantoni.
Monferrato, renowned for its excellent food and wine, with the arrival of autumn and the prized white truffle opens the season of the good food with many fairs (Truffle and Fat Ox above all), and fine restaurants located throughout the territory.
Many typical dishes of Monferrato are linked to the rural traditions, that confirm it as perfect destination for tour entirely dedicated to good food.
The agnolotti of Monferrato made in various ways, whose fillings recipes vary historically from village to village.
Bagna Caòda, ancient Provencal recipe adopted and adapted by farmers from Asti: poor dish but linked to the celebration of joyous moments of collective life as the end of the harvest.
All dishes made with the superior meat of the Cattle Breed Piemontese Fassone (and in the winter months with the majestic Fat Ox): knife cut raw meat , the bollito misto piemontese, the fritto misto piemontese and the finanziera just to name a few.
“L’esultante di castella e vigne suol d’Aleramo”
as the great nineteenth-century poet Carducci sang in the ode « Piemonte« , has on its hills characteristic villages and wineries that produce great wines, among the most renowned: Barbera, Grignolino, Ruchè, Freisa and Malvasia between reds, and whites including Moscato and Cortese.
A brief history of Monferrato, by Paolo Girola
The name Monferrato indicated for 600 years a geographical and even political reality, the Marquisate, who had in the lands north of the Tanaro, between Casale, Moncalvo and Valenza its original core. No State in the modern sense of the term because its boundaries were changing in the continuous succession of purchases and losses feuds, but that for six centuries held a place among the potentates of northern Italy.
The Marquisate of Monferrato, then duchy in 1536 when it passed to the Dukes of Mantova, was the last patch of Piedmont to be acquired in 1708 by the Savoy dynasty that gathered under one crown the whole region.
The Marquisate’s origins date back to Aleramo (933-967) first Marquis: legend has it that he was given in fief by Emperor Otto I as much land as he could cover in three days and three nights on horseback. The development of the Marquisate takes place around the town of Acqui Terme, Alba, Casale Monferrato, Chivasso and Moncalvo. After Aleramici, in 1306 the Marquisate went on to feud Paleologi, the dynasty of Roman emperors of the East
In 2006 in Ponte della Rotta, between Portacomaro, Portacomaro Station, Castell’Alfero and Calliano, a memorial stone was laid in memory of the 700 years of the meeting, which took place on Sept. 29, 1306, the day of St. Michael, between the Marquis Teodoro Palaeologus of Monferrato and Filippo of Savoy Prince of Acaia. Probably the first official meeting as head of state of the young Marquis, son of the Roman emperor of the East, came to take possession of the Monferrato.
Last feudal lords of Monferrato were the Gonzaga of Mantova Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga-Nevers (1665- 1708) was the last Duke of Mantova and Monferrato, at his death his estate in the Piedmont went to the Savoys.
One of the characteristics of this « state » is that it didn’t have a real capital for centuries, but an itinerant court that resided from time to time in Valenza, Moncalvo, Chivasso. From 1474 Casale Monferrato can be recognized as « capital » of the state palaeologist.