From Grapevines to Forest: 5 Hikes to Enjoy Autumn Colors in Piemonte
- Written by Diana Zahuranec
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Piemonte has one of Italy’s most varied landscapes: from Alpine foothills to acres of vineyards, from thick forests to fields of rice paddies, they are all a showcase of bright colors in the autumn. Walks and hikes are the best way to enjoy the reds and golden yellows of the season, so we’ve prepared five hikes that explore five different wine zones. And of course, we didn't forget to recommend a local wine to stash in your backpack.
Gavi and Tortonese – Capanne di Marcarolo National Park.
Gold in the autumn trees…and lakes
Hills of fiery trees are reflected in the Gorzente and Lavagnina lakes in this park in the autumn. Still undiscovered by many tourists, the Capanne di Marcarolo is located in the Lemme Valley on the border of Liguria. Enjoy the peace of nature along the web of trails for walking and mountain biking, and you may hear whispers of the past: its gold boom in the 1850s (is this precious metal still found in its lakes and streams?) and the lovely Sacrarium della Benedicta. If you’d like to take a bike ride from Gavi to the park (just 8-10 miles until its border), check out our itinerary here: The Gold of Lemme Valley
Recommended wine: Gavi DOCG, a white wine made from 100% Cortese. Read more about its great minerality and low alcohol here The Lights of Gavi: A Wine Hung in Balance
Capanne of Marcarolo in the Autumn. Photos from panoramio.com. Lake pictures by Flavio Malaspina
Via Umberto 1, 32/A - 15060 Bosio (AL)
Tel. +39 0143 684777
Tourist information point at Capanne di Marcarolo
Tel. +39 0143-684035
Click here to see their list of trails
Barolo – The Barolo Trail
UNESCO-worthy landscapes in an autumn burst of color
Miles of rolling hills cloaked in quadrangles of vineyards like a patchwork quilt – the Barolo landscape is breathtaking in any season, and is one of our top recommendations for admiring autumn in Piemonte. Explore wine country with a loop that begins in Barolo, pauses for a lunch break in Monforte d’Alba, and passes by Novello. Follow the white sign with its red arrow and see acres of vineyards, a breathtaking view of the Alps, wineries where you can stop and taste, and Piemontese towns with medieval architecture and a Neo-Gothic castle. It’s hard to beat this trail for bellavistas and interesting terrain. What are you waiting for? We have a detailed itinerary and map to guide you: Medieval Hilltop Towns of Barolo
Recommended wine: Barolo DOCG, the undisputed king of this land, 100% Nebbiolo.
Castello della Volta - Andrea Mucelli, CC, License.
Vineyard colors in La Morra - massimo ankor, CC, License.
Roero – Rocche del Roero
A well-organized network of trails through forest and vineyard
The rocche, or rocks, of the Roero offer extraordinary scenery due to an erosional shift that occurred during the Interglacial period, exposing the labyrinthine series of gulleys, cliffs, and gorges from the territory stretching from Pocapaglia to Montà d’Alba. To fully explore this area, stop by the Ecomuseum in Montà d’Alba for maps and touristic information. The park has dozens of trails, all with intriguing names: Fossil Trail, Wild Boar’s Pit Trail, Masca Micilina Trail (named after a legendary witch of the region), and Truffle Trail, to name a few. We’ve traveled the Religious Trail and Apiculture Trail, unique adventures that offer spectacular colors during the season of fall.
Recommended wine: Langhe Favorita DOC, , min. 85% Favorita, a variety likely native to Piemonte. Production has recently declined in favor of Chardonnay and Arneis – buy a bottle to support local diversity.
Rocche of the Roero. Photo from www.imeridiani.net
Ecomuseum of the Rocche of the Roero
Piazzetta della Vecchia Segheria, 2/b - 12046 Montà d'Alba (CN)
Tel +39 0173 97 61 81
Click here for a list and maps of the trails
Torinese – The Vineyards Trail in Carema
A short hike in Alpine foothills with spectacular views
This quick hike of just 2 ½ miles will take longer than expected because of the temptation to stop every three steps and take a picture. The terraced vineyards of Carema are giant, gorgeous hillside steps with concrete pylons and trellises of dangling grapes (if harvest isn’t over) covered in colorful vines. The background is unsurpassed: situated in the Canavese wine territory, an area noted for its Nebbiolo wines, Carema is located in the majestic foothills of the Alps, a canvas of color in the autumn. Even the tiny hillside town will have you slowing your steps to take more photos of narrow roads and stone buildings, the same today as they were hundreds of years ago. And, if all this vineyard walking has whet your wine palate, pass by the Regional Enoteca on the way back. We recommend you take an empty backpack with you! For the detailed trail, see our itinerary: The Vineyards Trail
Recommended wine: Carema DOC, a Nebbiolo-based wine (min 85%). Here, two local variations of Nebbiolo are used: Picutener and Pugnet.
Carema and its vineyards in the autumn. Photo by Maria Grazia Schiapparelli, All Rights Reserved.
Town hall of Carema
Piazza della Chiesa,2 - 10010 Carema (TO)
About the Trail (in Italian, but with a link to download pdf of map)
Monferrato – Sarmassa Valley
A mosaic of forest colors and a park with ancient history
The Sarmassa Valley in Alto Monferrato promises a milieu of colors from the variety of trees in this Natural Reserve. Shades of red, orange, and yellow stand out stark against dark branches and trunks of black locust, oak, chestnut, cherry, elm, and maple. The park’s history is colorful, as well. Its most recent past has left its traces in the crumbling wells, equipment sheds (ciabòt in Piemontese), and the remains of terraced vineyards, memories of farmers during the WW II era. Its most ancient history is told through dusty fossils of organisms that lived in a Pliocene sea covering all of Asti territory more than 2 million years ago – keep a sharp eye out for sandstone caves and hollows to spy some prehistoric relics. Read more about the park here: Sarmassa Valley, the Long Memory of the Monferrato
Recommended wine: Nizza DOCG, a 100% Barbera wine made in Alto Monferrato. Read more about it in The newest certified wine on the block, Nizza DOCG, starts with the 2014 harvest
Fossil and autumn leaves in Sarmassa Valley. Photos from www.astiturismo.it and www.nordicwalkingcisa.it
Ente di Gestione delle Aree Protette
Corso Vittorio Alfieri, 381 - 14100 Asti (AT)
Tel. +39 0141592091