25 Sep A Time Travel in Monferrato
What we like most about our profession is to meet interesting and unique people that live in Monferrato, while at the same time we experience new adventures.
This time, we thought that we would just talk and listen. But it didn’t really happen: we sat down in a café in front of the Sacro Monte of Crea and experienced a wonderful time travel beyond ages! We took the opportunity to learn the different geological shapes of Monferrato and the movements that created what we now can see.
The guardian of the portal is Paolo Sassone, a rocky but gentle man, born in Sala Monferrato. He studied first as a geometrician then graduated in mining engineering.
He lives now in Casalborgone where he manages his mining environmental geo-engineering Studio Sassone and is part of the board of Ro Verda Association were naturalists, agronomists, geologists and experts converged to valorize their territory of great scenic beauty, and the agricultural value of the land by organizing workshops, events and trekking in the Ro Verda area.
From there, every day, he goes around Monferrato to follow construction sites, to analyse the different grounds and to make appraisals always taking care to minimise the environmental impact.
40 Millions years ago in Monferrato
We got catapulted in the Age of Oligocene, 40 millions of years ago. There was just sea and water. Where was Monferrato? The embryo was starting to take shape with the sedimentations process happening in the seabed.
Another jump and we moved to the Miocene Age, from 20 million until 5 million of years ago. During this time Monferrato started to emerge, and the environment was amazing: nice beaches, blue sea, many animals, no people yet and especially any huge industrial warehouse, pointed out Paolo!
A unique Stone
This land that before we ascertained didn’t exist at all, where did it come from? Paolo explained that this happens because the Apennine rocks, due to the movement of the tectonic plates emerged really slow, so what was before a seabed then emerged, becoming mainland.
We went back for a moment to Crea today, and just close to the picnic tables Paolo showed us a small rock wall that is nothing else than the seabed resurfaced until 400 meters above the sea level! We touched excited the sand and we could see the line of the ripples.
This is what then formed the “Pietra da Cantoni” stone. Heritage of Monferrato, this unique material was traditionally used for many countryside buildings and that characterised the Infernot: the old wine underground cellars that gave to the Monferrato the opportunity to be in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
We were then curious to know how fast this movement of raising happen and Paolo said that the growth is 1 millimetre per year. We made some count and we could see we just wait for few millions of years to get a wonderful ski in Monferrato!
Then Paolo explains about the tectonic “Riofreddo line” that pass exactly from his village, Casalborgone and demarcates the geologic border between Monferrato, characterised by the Apennine rocks raising and the Turin hills, distinguished by the Alpine rocks, where the growths are much faster: between 3.5 and 5 millimetres per year.
Restoring the Sacro Monte
Before leaving, he shows us the last delight: the Sant’Eusebio spring. Down of the Sacro Monte, at the first chapel you meet, a big landslide a few years ago blocked the road and almost hit the holy building.
The team, coordinated also by Paolo removed and restored the road in hundred days, and then they discovered that the well of the spring is connected with a channel to a conduit that goes to the surface, 25 meters far from the chapel, about the hill. There, they found rest of ceramic, wood, sculptures assuming that was the place where all the statues of the Sacro Monte’s chapels were built.
In Casalborgone Paolo Sassone, with the Ro Verda Association, organise every year a rich program of nature walks and events to promote the Ro Verda area and the environment.
Ro Verda Association
Written by Vincenzo Bagnetto | Photography by Maria Chiara Ghilardi