In the land of bears

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This itinerary lets you discover the castles of Acquese, ancient structures with fascinating histories behind each one. In the past, this land was surrounded by thousand-year-old forests populated with ferocious wild animals. Today, ancient towers stand out above vineyards of the Monferrato and Dolcetto d’Ovada.

Visualizza La terra degli orsi in una mappa di dimensioni maggiori

The Regional Enoteca will be your point of departure in Acqui Terme. From here, turn onto Corso Cavour and exit the city heading south in the direction of Ovada. The journey’s first destination is Prasco with its imposing castle from the 12th century, open to visitors upon reservation. The park and its restored “refrigerator” from the 1600s will also catch your attention. This natural refrigeration system was excavated out of a steep slope and surrounded by a thick copse of vegetation that continually keeps the area well shaded. In the past, it was filled with snow and ice to maintain a cold temperature to conserve provisions. The castle houses the Museum of Material Culture, which recounts the history of wine and honey production through its collection of old artifacts. The school of Giorgio Gallesio, a great botanist of the Savoy reign, is also in the castle. Then, take a break in the garden; in just one and a half hectares (3.7 acres) 1,200 different species of plants are cultivated and grow here.

Hitting the road again, travel in the direction of Morsasco to visit the Castle of Morsasco, today an elegant residence. Don’t miss the games room of "Pallacorda," the first professional sport of the medieval period. A precursor to the Italian game of pallapugno, it seems that the nobles would hire players to entertain guests. And here’s an interesting fact: the soccer player Gaetano Scirea, who played 552 games with Juventus and 78 in the Italian Nationals, is buried in the Morsasco cemetery. Scirea not only had a very impressive soccer career, but he was known for providing an outstanding example of good sportsmanship; sadly, he died unexpectedly in a car accident in Poland at just 36 years old.

If in need of a lunch break, we suggest stopping by the agriturismo La Rossa with its lunch room constructed in its old stalls. Our dish of choice is a filling plate of homemade pasta, preceded by an infinite line of Piedmontese appetizers and accompanied with DOC wines from Alto Monferrato.

To finish, stop at Orsara Bormida. This small town that lies just a few miles away from Morsasca has a strong agricultural center and a name with ancient roots: Ursaria, “land of the bears,” recalls its forested past when bears hid in the trees that once blanketed the entire region. Again, don’t miss visiting the area’s medieval castle, one of the oldest and best-conserved in all of Monferrato. The recounting of this castle’s history is accompanied with wines from the local cellars. At your disposition, among others, are Barbera del Monferrato and Dolcetto d’Acqui and d’Ovada.

If you don’t suffer from vertigo, see all the Acquese castles with a helicopter tour. A flight of 15 minutes at 30 euro a person for groups of at least 25 people, this thrilling ride is worth the breathtaking views of the region and its castles. Ask for more information at the Castle of Orsara.

Last modified onTuesday, 19 January 2016 16:14
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