A Path of Faith on the Sacred Mountain dei Piloni
- Written by Pietro Ramunno
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The Rocks of the Roero offer some extraordinary naturalistic scenery, the result of a singular erosion phenomenon that followed the "capture" of the Tanaro River during the Interglacial period, and exposing the spectacular, labrynthine series of gulleys and gorges that give the territory from Pocapaglia to Montà its incredible landscape.
Visualizza Religioso in una mappa di dimensioni maggiori
The Rocks are also a place where memories of the traditional lives and work of its inhabitants live on still today, seen in the way human activity has interacted with its territory over the course of many years. To defend this union of nature and tradition, the Ecomuseum of the Rocks of the Roero opened in 2003 in Montà, where Olga and Valentina are at your disposal for all helpful touristic information for activities, sites, and places to visit left of the Tanaro River. Nearby the Roero Town Hall are five thematic trails that form a ring, a good opportunity to venture out equipped with a map, comfortable shoes for walking on uneven ground, and a walking stick to explore the zone.
Our first proposal is the Religious Trail, which in about two hours covers the ancient path of pilgrims who walked from the city center to the Sacred Mount dei Piloni (the smallest Piedmontese sacred mountain, immersed in vineyards and Scots pines), returning to the town by way of a beautiful nature trail in Diana Valley and Rio Canneto. This route relives the experience of centuries of men and women of the Roero heading towards the Piloni Sanctuary (18th century), boasting a 360° panoramic view of the surrounding hills.
If you came by car, park it in Piazza Vittorio Veneto and continue along Via Santuario, which - passing by the village of Bertonlini with its old, unused furnace - arrives at the Laione district.
The trail starts up an incline along the vineyard-cultivated hills, coinciding with the trail "Grande Sentiero delle Rocche" S1 and arriving at the Sanctuary. The path then winds through Via Crucis, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its fascinating history, architecture, and religious past.
To begin the walk, admire the Romanesque Church of St.s Giacomo and Filippo the younger, constructed over a site already frequented by cults in Ancient Roman times and object of numerous modifications over the centuries. Exactly in front of the church is the Cave of Agony, constructed in 1933 in occasion of the 19th Centennial of the Redemption. Next, admire the thirteen hexagonal chapels with their statuesque groups of "Piloni," or pylons, that give the Sacred Mount its name. The Stations of the Cross on Via Crucis were originally erected in 1775, but gradually wore down and were substitued with a line of small chapels.
The final destination of this pilgrimage is the rural bell tower of the Holy Tomb. The octagonal chapel has high-arched colonnades all throughout the interior and a tiled roof; the inside is completely occupied by the statuary group Compianto sul Cristo Morto, with an 18th century Christ enclosed in a transparent, glass shrine.
In contrast to historical documentation, tradition holds that the construction of the chapel was much earlier, with several stories of origin attached. One says that it was constructed by a pious monk returned from a long pilgrimage in the Holy Land; another that is was during the Crusades on the walls of a Roman fortification which was itself on the ruins of a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Diana. From this, a third tale grew that says it was built to hold a statue of Christ in an urn sculpted out of the wood of an olive tree from Palestine, an offering from a knight returning from the Crusades. Another motive given for the reconstruction of the church in 1774 was out of renewed devotion that came with the discovery of a painting of the Virgin Mary.
Ponder which of the stories is real as you return in the direction of Montà, traveling through forests of Scots pine, centuries-old chestnut trees, over the terrace of the Rocks and through a lush, green valley. You will pass through Diana Valley, named after the ancient cult of the Goddess of the Hunt. After traveling through a rather humid section of the trail, arrive at the Rio Canneto river crossing, where the path intersects with the first section of the Trail of Apiculture; then, climb up wooden steps to find yourself among poplar trees and the Calorio Ciàbot ("toolshed") Climbing back up the southern slop of Diana Valley, finish at the beginning of Via Mossello, from which you may reach Piazza Vittorio Veneto, closing the ring of a trail that has taken you through the heart of this territory.
The trail: quick facts
Departure and arrival: Montà d'Alba (CN)
Length: 5.7 km
Wine Plus: unique religious trail characterized by its forested and rocky landscape
Suggested wine: Langhe Favorita DOC (the Favorita variety originates in the Roero)