Santo Stefano Belbo is a town with two souls: the first is wine production, as seen by the encircling hills covered in grapevines; and the other is culture, as it’s the birthplace of Cesare Pavese, born in 1908, the great writer who took inspiration from his town for many of his works.
Following the roads that leave from the center of the town, approach the ancient medieval towers, damaged but testimony to the first place inhabited by St. Stefano Belbo. From this vantage point, you can see the entire surrounding valley, including the hills of Moncucco on the opposite side. At the summit is the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Neve. Encircled in a green area, a theater is erected for a quite unique show on August 4th every year: the lighting of a bonfire that illuminates the adjacent hills in remembrance of ancient pagan festivals for a fruitful harvest.
It’s worth your time to travel back to the Relais San Maurizio, an elegant, 5 star wellness center and spa with 30 rooms and suites. The refined cuisine of Michelin-starred Guido di Costigliole is served here, along with a wine cellar that offers over 2,500 labels. To top off a luxurious evening, the panoramic terrace shows miles of hills blanketed with vineyards.
The figure of Cesare Pavese is present in every corner, with signs noting the many references the writer dedicated to his birthplace, who often cited places and personalities of St. Stefano Belbo. Stop by his friend Nuto’s house, the carpentry worker of Pinolo Scaglione, along the street that arrives in the town from Canelli. At Canelli, see the new Artisan Museum, where you can smell the newly-cut wood and hear the words of the patrons as, like the great writer once said, “whoever passes, whether going to or returning from Cannelli, stops to chat while the carpenter handles the planer, the chisel, or the saw and talks with everyone in Canelli about the good old days, politics, music and madmen, the world.”
Just a bit further ahead and on the left is Pavese's birth home, sold by the family following the father’s premature death. Inside is now the osteria-enoteca Dal Gal Vestì. Don’t miss the pasta e fagioli, prepared according to a recipe from chef Massimilano’s grandmother, accompanied by wines from the Gatti Piero winery and selected by sommelier Edoardo.