Highlights and tour details
Last stage of this long ring that crosses the whole of Langa. The route takes us from Verduno, which is worth stopping in for its Viewpoint, toward Roddi, and on to the City of the Hundred Towers. More vineyards in Barolo, truffle trees, castles and towers of Roero in the background, beyond the River Tanaro, and an unmissable detour of a few kilometres in Pollenzo. We reach the centre of Alba, to end our journey in beauty and be enchanted by the treasures of the city.
Verduno is a charming and well-kept village, which preserves a true royal residence (today charming hotel) in which all the Savoia family lived until 1909, when the estate was purchased by the Burlotto family. Precisely in these cellars, General Staglieno, by order of the King, began the “modern” production of Barolo of the Royal House: still, dry and aged in oak barrels.
The “Castello di Verduno” winery is still there, in a curious marriage of Bar To Bar because Franco Bianco is from Barbaresco, while his wife Gabriella Burlotto is from Verduno… They are the perfect summary of this lovely tour among the Langhe of two of the most prestigious Italian red wines. From Verduno, if we look towards the Tanaro Valley, there are the Roero castles of Pocapaglia, Monticello, Guarene and the lovely tower of Santa Vittoria (twin of the one in Barbaresco that you glimpse precisely at the bottom, beyond Alba, where the valley narrows and the Tanaro bends eastwards). Under the rock formation of Santa Vittoria, Carlo Alberto had the monumental Cinzano wineries built to secretly make one of the first Italian sparkling wines (the first was Gancia in the nearby Canelli area) and carry out experiments on Vermouth, the father of all Italian aperitifs.
Half-way along the road between the two royal estates is the neo-Gothic village of Pollenzo (built on the disappeared Roman city of Pollentia: here Stilicho stopped the Goths one last time, unnecessarily considering that a few years later Alaric will conquer Rome, while Stilicho will be executed by the inept Honorius) with the agrarian company, which is now home to the University of Gastronomic Sciences and the Wine Bank, according to an ambitious and forward-looking project of Slow Food. Finally, before us, the Langhe with the “crown” of the Barolo open between Roddi and Diano, the Castle of Grinzane in the middle and the other towns arranged in a semi-circle around Barolo: in one glimpse, all the ancient fiefs of the Bankers of Asti Falletti, today destination and dream of a good part of the world’s wine lovers. From Verduno, we exit towards the Alessandria winery (then descend from the castle towards the Town Hall and then keeping to the right), beyond which our road descends towards the new hospital, to then fortunately leave it and take a path on the right in the wood. After 1 km, it emerges on the ridge cart track between the vineyards, up to a new leafy trail to the left that, descending, takes us to the Monvigliero – Toetto road (Monvigliero is the most famous cru of Verduno!). We cross the ribbon of paved road and continue on the ridge on a particularly pleasant route, which only in the last section descends once again onto the village of Roddi along strada Toetto, right at the entrance to the village.
Roddi is dominated by the imposing castle, already partially recovered. It is definitely worth taking a walk here, for the educational truffle trail and for the visual traces of the poetry competition which has been held here for over twenty years. From Roddi, we descend on Via Fontanassa as far as the valley floor, marked by the roundabout with a votive chapel. We cross the provincial road and continue towards the Tanaro and its cycle route, which we will take to the right as soon as we have gone past the bridge over the canal of the Verduno-La Morra power station. The wide, flat and spacious street sinuously follows the river in its lazy bends to reach, after a few kilometres, to run alongside the Alba ring-road and finally to cross it under the cable-stayed bridge. At this point, our route turns back before bending to the left towards the sweetest factory of creation…that of Ferrero which has taken the name of Alba (and of the hazelnut) around the world.
The Ferrero Foundation, very active culturally, hosts national exhibitions and conferences; a little further on is the Research Centre “Pietro Ferrero”, a worldwide excellence. Here, already, the red towers of bricks and history appear on our horizon while the hexagon of the ancient Alba Pompeia is profiled in the belt of the ring road. We take it to enter among the porphyry roads, the bell towers, the red roofs, the bars and the workshops and rediscover the ancient charm of a Savoy Piedmont, discreet yet firm, modest and amazing precisely because unexpected and, therefore, unforgettable.
Points of interest
Verduno: Viewpoint, Sanctuary of Beato Valfrè, Municipal Winery, Church of San Michele – Roddi: Truffle-dog University – Alba: Urban Towers, Noble Palaces, Social Theatre, Archaeological Route “Underground Alba”, Beppe Fenoglio Study Centre.
Itinerary code: BTB
Recommended period: Apr - Nov
Access by public transport: Yes
Classification: Medium and low mountain provincial
Provinces crossed: Langhe Monferrato e Roero