Hills rich with vines and valleys, forests, rice fields which reflect the sky, medieval castles and roman churches, ancient traditions still observed and unique cuisine make this land charming. So much so, that UNESCO has reconignized Monferrato as a World Heritage Site for its Vineyard Landscape, with Langhe and Roero.
From the mountain-tops to the hills, you can admire the vines which produce among some of the best wines in Italy. In the villages, sprinkled through the countryside, artisan traditions, cuisine and food festivals still thrive. The larger cities, such as Casale Monferrato, Asti, Novi Ligure and Acqui Terme, each contain their own treasures: tales rich in history, archaeology, architecture and art.
Found between the Asti and Alessandria provinces in Piedmont, in the North-West of Italy, Monferrato is easy to reach and is just one hour away from astonishing Italian destinations like Milan, Turin, Genova, Lake Maggiore, the Alps and Cinque Terre. It is a fantastic place from which to visit Northern Italy and relax in a land rich in art, culture and some of the best Italian wines.
From Valenza jewelry to the Roman Spa in Acqui, from the Novi chocolate to Asti delicatessens, from the Casale churches to the Gavi fortress, every place in Monferrato has its own particular character and magic, and each has prestigious wines and tasty recipes.
The most celebrated DOC and DOCG red wines are Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto d’Acqui, Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese, Ruché and Piedmont Bonarda. White wines, like Cortese, Piemonte Chardonnay and the sparkling wines like Asti Spumante are all famous for their quality on the world stage. As well as wines, you can taste typical products and dishes such as agnolotti al plin (filled ravioli), bagna caùda (warm dip), fritto misto, cisrà (chickpeas soup) and the huge regional variety of pasta, meats, vegetables, mushrooms, truffles and cheeses.
Spring and summer are the best seasons to visit for those who love the outdoors and exploring nature. Autumn and winter are the best times for food and truffles connoisseurs and who wish to enjoy the region’s food festivals.
Monferrato offers many different and unique natural environments. North of the River Po you will find the rice fields that create the checkered-sea phenomenon. From late April to late June, the plains are reflected in the ponds created by the rice fields.
South of the river, the rice fields meet the hills, offering a particularly spectacular scenery. Here you find several natural reserves, united under the name of Protected areas of the Po Vercelli – Alessandria. These are treasure chests of biodiversity, home to a large variety of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and rare species of flowers. You may spot herons, hawks and cranes. And also bats, terrapin turtles, emerald toads and newts. Or you can witness the blossoming of rare wild orchids.
Among the hills of central Monferrato forests alternate with vines, giving shelter to hares, squirrels, badgers, dormice, deer, wild boar and foxes. The Sacro Monte di Crea Park and the Paleontological Park of Asti protect the biodiversity of this area.
To the south, in areas close to Liguria, prevails a wild landscape rich in vegetation. You will encounter aromatic and medicinal herbs, plants such as chestnut, oak, and the only maritime pine forests of Piedmont. This area is home to the Piedmont Apennines Protected Areas Park: an evocative and wild place, full of gorges and streams that form natural pools.
Southern Monferrato offers a beautiful view of the Gulf of Genoa. Among the species of fauna, we signal the harrier, a bird of prey that feeds on snakes and the cave salamander, an amphibian that lives in caves and streams. These areas are also home to the wolf.
The UNESCO recognition highlights an important point: for centuries the landscape of Monferrato has been shaped by mankind’s work, in harmony with the natural environment. A frigile and sometimes compromised harmony: therefore we urge those who visit Monferrato to maintain this delicate balance.
Reaching Monferrato by train is simple! The main stations are Asti, Alessandria, Acqui Terme and Casale Monferrato.
If you travel from Switzerland you will get a connecting train in Turin. Travelling from all Countries in the north est, your connecting station is Milano Centrale, and from the south Genoa and Piacenza. Check out the railways website.
From Turin and Piacenza, travel on motorway A21 and exit at Asti or Alessandria. From Milan and Genoa, take motorway A26 and exit at Casale Monferrato Sud, or Alessandria Ovest. Remember if you travel by car, from October to April, snow-chains are compulsory on the normal roads. Check out the motorways website.
Monferrato is in the north-west of Italy, between the northern Alps and the Appennini mountain range in Liguria. We have a continental climate.
Spring is a mild time of the year. It is the perfect season to travel as temperatures generally range from between 15° to 25°. Nights are fresh while the daytime can be warm. Summers can be hot, up to 30°, while the nights are fresher but still warm. You may like to enjoy wild swimming in the streams on the border to Liguria to catch some shade and have a cool, refreshing swim.
Autumn is another great time to travel. The weather is still mild, like spring. The sun doesn’t bite as much, and you can enjoy day treks, lots of cycling and food fairs. Winters are quite cold; during the night temperatures can reach -5°. It’s usually foggy and rainy, but there are still lots of bright days with a warm sun.
Summers can be hot, up to 30°: we recommend sun protection such as a good sun-cream and a hat. Don’t forget a mosquito repellant as the north area of Monferrato is close to rice fields.
Winters can be quite cold, so warm clothes and a rainproof vest are a good idea. This is also recommended for mid seasons when it rains a bit more than usual.
If you are travelling by car and are able to fit your bicycle, you won’t regret it. Monferrato is the perfect place to get some exercise and enjoy the view at once; you will meet many friendly cyclists along the way.