Highlights and tour details
An uphill route, departing from Cortemilia, surrounded by hazelnut groves, to reach Bergolo, the stone village par excellence.
Leaving Cortemilia, a historic village whose history today is linked to the hazelnut and the festival dedicated to it every year, our route heads towards Bergolo. From Piazza Savona, on the corner of Via Cavour, you take the tiny via Langhe and go up to the right. Cross the provincial road to Bergolo and take via Martiri di Bologna, going along it until you reach an old farmstead. Go uphill to the right and, once you have passed the condominiums, continue on the gravel road that goes uphill to the left. When you reach a crossroads, continue up the trail that is not marked well in the centre and after a long crossing, leads to a small wood.
After a couple of steeper bends, you reach a wide gravel road that climbs up to a small paved road. It bends left on the flat, for about 300 metres, then you leave it for a not very visible dirt road on the right. Once you have passed a few terraces, continue on the flat until you reach a beautiful dry-stone wall. After passing the next stream, go up a steep stretch until you come out of the woods. You skirt the arable land until you reach the courtyard of an isolated farmstead, which you avoid by turning right to come out in the bend of a gravel road. Follow it to the left for a few metres, then leave it in the bend and take a flat dirt road. At the next intersection in the road, turn left, keeping to the older trail and go along a nice flat stretch in the woods, until you reach a more visible dirt road, where you turn right and follow the entire amphitheatre of the hill, once cultivated with vineyards.
After a couple of bends, you reach the beautiful Cascina Fontana and now on a gravel road, you go along the crest of the hill. You ignore the first road (which climbs to the right towards Bricco delle Forche, where the ruins of the ancient watchtower are located), to climb up to the centre at the next intersection in the road, and then, bending left into a pinewood, you reach the crest of the hill, marked by a wooden cross, and then you reach the remarkable Romanesque church dedicated to San Sebastiano, situated in a splendid panoramic spot, just above Bergolo.
The older part of Bergolo practically makes up the entirety of the village and, with not even 70 inhabitants, is one of the smallest villages in the Langhe, also for its surface area. It has always been historically linked to the nearby Cortemilia, from which the Marquises exercised their power over all the neighbouring fiefdoms and lost the castle already in the late Middle Ages. On the whole, its overall architectural unity has remained, represented above all by the continuity of the building materials, which here are essentially made of Langa stone. This is why it has always been called the "Paese di Pietra” - Stone Village.
In the last forty years, Bergolo has fought the depopulation that afflicted the farthest valleys with great investments in culture, which have made it a small oasis of art and music that has attracted tourists and investments from half of Europe. From "Canté Magg" (the retrieval of the peasant tradition of spring dances and songs) to the "Via del Sale" (contamination of contemporary art with installations as far as the sea), from "Sapori della Pietra" (an eno-gastronomic review of local artisan excellence) to the many murals that, over the decades, have filled the roads of the village with art, here is where Bergolo has always proved to be much bigger than it seems at an initial distracted glance.
In short, villages like Bergolo do not have to explain themselves too much: just go up to the extraordinary cemetery church of San Sebastiano, a Romanesque jewel with a few tombstones around it, a place that would have made Shelley happy, then look down at the nine stones of the brand new Ezra Pound Memorial to capture the poetry that the Langa can offer to unhurried eyes that know how to choose where and how to see.
Points of interest
Cortemilia: Ecomuseo dei Terrazzamenti e della Vite (Ecomuseum of Hillside Terraces and Vines), Church of Santa Maria della Pieve, Fortified Complex. Bergolo, the stone village: Church of San Sebastiano.