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Trail of the Wolf

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View of Rodello from the Trail of the Wolf, Montelupo Albese View of Rodello from the Trail of the Wolf, Montelupo Albese

Montelupo Albese is a great springboard for hikers, bikers, and of course, wine travelers. Passing through this village for a half-day hike and wine tasting also means stepping into a fairy tale – 28 of them, to be exact.


Montelupo Albese sits at the divergence of two Langhe identities. To the south lies the Alta Langa (“high” Langa), a country of forests and hazelnut groves; to the north lies the more famous vineyard-covered hills of the Langhe, home to the “king and queen” of wines, Barolo and Barbaresco.

Montelupo, located just 15 minutes south of Alba, touches the edge of that famous wine region, yet does not quite reach the southern higher elevations where the Piemonte Hazelnut IGP is favored for cultivation. Great wines are yet produced here, but instead of a Nebbiolo-centered wine culture, this is Dolcetto d’Alba territory.

The trail: quick facts

On foot or by mountain bike
Departure and arrival: Montelupo Albese
Length: 7.5 km (other options available; ask the Comune for a map or click here
Est. time: 2 hrs 
Suggested wine: Dolcetto d'Alba DOCG

Park your car in the main Piazza Castello at the top of the town, where the Trattoria in Piazza is located. Stop here for lunch or dinner to enjoy traditional Piemontese food, but call ahead of time to make sure they’re open. From the piazza, admire the view over the Langhe, the hills of Barbaresco to the north, and Asti and Moscato territory to the east. Then, before embarking on your adventure into the hills, stroll through the streets to spot all 28 murals painted on the sides of buildings. Each one features a well-known local or cross-cultural folk tale that features the wolf. Local artists began painting these scenes in 2011 and continue to add to the delightful collection every year. The choice of protagonist for these paintings is not random: the name “Montelupo” can be loosely translated to “wolf hill” in honor of the Canis lupus italicus population that once roamed the territory.

The Trail of the Wolf (Sentiero del Lupo) happily follows this theme, with metal silhouette signposts of wolves to guide the way through vineyard and forest. The loop may be shortened or lengthened according to your hiking level, and signs are easy to follow.

Begin at either end of this loop, taking a left or right down the central road from the piazza. We recommend you follow Via Ballerina to the south, heading left from the piazza and then taking a sharp right to travel a clockwise loop: best for wine tasters who would like to visit wineries at the end. Alternatively, begin in the other direction for a less difficult hike, as the hillside here is much steeper and easier to descend than it is to climb.

The Trail of the Wolf passes through hazelnut groves, forests of mulberry, elderberry, and acacia, and among vineyards, with stunning views over the Langhe territory at many different lookout points. It winds through tiny, half-abandoned villages festooned with vibrant roses, wild iris, and cherry trees dripping with fruit in the springtime. Borgata Brantegna, located a bit before the halfway point (if taking the route clockwise), has charming examples of traditional Piemontese architecture in its old farmhouses and chapel. If you need a break from the walk and sunshine, there is a natural spring located off the side of the trail between Cascina Bormida and Borgata Brantegna called the “Fonte Caudana.” Keep an eye out for it amid the hazelnut groves and turn at a well-preserved ciàbot, or old brick toolshed; a partially hidden sign points the way.

The last part of the Trail of the Wolf (always clockwise) dips down to a cool glade with a trickling stream before climbing steeply up. Here, along the northern section of the trail, is where the vineyards and wineries are concentrated. Many of these vines are Dolcetto, but you will pass by Chardonnay and Arneis on this route, as well. Montelupo and neighboring Rodello produce some of the best expressions of Dolcetto d’Alba there are. Note the plants growing at the ends of the rows: while rose bushes are traditionally planted to help warn vine growers of diseases, here, instead, are planted artichokes. 

Dolcetto d’Alba is a fruity, dry red wine. It is known for its freshness and vibrant directness, with immediate fruity and floral aromas. It is both easily drinkable and capable of developing great complexity and structure. Although its lower acidity does not generally lend it to aging for decades in the cellar, some bottles are indeed made for aging, especially Superiore. Common aromas and flavors are red and black cherry, prune, blueberry, and a final, almost bitter almond note.

Read more about an important producer of Dolcetto d’Alba: Dolcetto is King at Mossio Fratelli Winery.

Near the picturesque Chiesa dell’Oriolo, a 1712 church perched at the end of the hill at 460 m asl, is the Cantina Oriolo, producers of Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, and white wines Arneis, Chardonnay, Favorita, and Moscato. Other wineries just a bit off the path are Cantina Destefanis and Cantina Sobrero in Borgata Mortizzo; Marello along Via Oriolo; and Giachino Claudio on Via Brantegna. Call ahead of time for a tasting and visit. As for dining and accommodation, although Montelupo is small, it has several nearby options. In fact, nearly at the head of the Trail of the Wolf is Ca’ del Lupo, a beautiful, 4-star hotel with an outstanding view of the Langhe over their pool. Another excellent place, close to the Destefanis winery, is the Locanda Aria di Langa, also a restaurant.

Do you appreciate an intimate bed and breakfast or the classic Piemontese agriturismi for an authentic experience? In nearby Rodello are a couple perfect choices: La Sismonda; and Maison Buschin (also on Airbnb). And while you’re in Rodello, don’t miss out on a visit to Dolcetto producer Fratelli Mossio.

Montelupo Albese is both well placed and active. Not only are three different options for the Trail of the Wolf available, but from here reach the Trail of the Orchid (Sentiero delle Orchidee) and the Romantic Road (Strada Romantica) towards Sinio. Ask at the Comune for maps. And it’s not too sleepy a community, either! One of their most characteristic and fun events of the year happens in the sunny days of late June, “da Cròta an Cròta” (a cròta refers to the winery cellar, in dialect), whereupon wine lovers can walk along parts of the trail and visit wineries for tasting and eating traditional Piemontese food. Finally, in August is the Festa delle Masche. In Piemontese folklore, the masche are similar to witches, and every village has their own tales and histories centered around these mysterious, sometimes foreboding figures.

 

What to see

Piazza Castello
12050 Montelupo Albese (CN) 

 

Borgata Brantegna
12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)

 

Chiesa dell'Oriolo
Via Oriolo - 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)

Comune di Montelupo Albese
Via Umberto, 4 - 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)
www.comune.montelupoalbese.cn.it
Tel. +39 0173 617117

 

Wolf murals
For a description of the murals in English, click here

 

Fonte Caudana
Found to the left of the trail heading clockwise after Borgata Brantegna

 

Where to eat

Trattoria in Piazza
Piazza, Via Castello, 4 - 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)
Tel. +39 0173 617016

 

Locanda Aria di Langa
Via Mortizzo, 29 - 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)
www.ariadilanga.com
Tel. +39 0173 617382

Ca' del Lupo
Via ballerina, 15 - 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)
www.cadellupo.it
Tel. +39 0173 617045 

 

 

Where to taste & buy wine 

Cantina Oriolo
Via Pilone Sorba, 12 - 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)
www.cantinaoriolo.it
Tel. +39 0173 617259 - Cell +39 348 042 8360
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Azienda Vitivinicola Marco Destefanis
8 Via Mortizzo - 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)
www.marcodestefanis.it
Tel. +39 0173 617189 - Cell +39 347 074 9133
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Azienda Vitivinicola Giorgio Sobrero
Via Mortizzo, 17 - 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)
Tel. +39 0173 617 617 - Cell +39 338 817 0907
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Azienda Agricola Marello
Via Oriolo, 5 – 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)
Tel. +39 339 8438164 – 0173 617597
aziendagricolamarello.wordpress.com
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Azienda Agricola Giachino Claudio
Via Brantegna, 5 - Montelupo Albese (CN)
www.giachinovini.it
Tel. +39 0173 617227 - Cell +39 333 714 8967
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Azienda Agricola Fratelli Mossio
Via Montà, 22 - 12050 Rodello (CN)
mossio.com
Tel. +39 0173 617149
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Where to sleep

Ca' del Lupo
Via Ballerina, 15 - 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)
www.cadellupo.it
Tel. +39 0173 617045

 

Locanda Aria di Langa
Via Mortizzo, 29 - 12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)
www.ariadilanga.com
Tel. +39 0173 617382

 

La Sismonda
Strada Tagliata, 8, 12050 Rodello CN, Italy
Tel. +39 0173 617473: ask for Luca Drocco

 

Maison Buschin
Via Montà, 8 - 12050 Rodello (CN)
Tel. +39 3357752777: ask for Riccardo Dattrino
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
On Airbnb

Last modified onMonday, 29 June 2015 09:39
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