Surrounded by picturesque hills that stretch along the valleys of the Erro and Bormida rivers, the Acquese territory offers a diverse landscape varying from vineyards, to woods, badlands, valleys, rivers and streams. It owes its surprising variety of environments, villages and people to its extraordinary position, that for centuries have made it a crossroads of routes for trade merchants and cultural exchanges.
The Monferrato, together with the Langhe and the Roero territories, was awarded with the most prestigious UNESCO recognition in 2014: a World Heritage Site, thanks to its vineyard landscape and culture as well as its abundance of food and wine, which includes products of excellence appreciated throughout the world.
Alice Bel Colle (420 m a.s.l)
The village is situated at about 8 km from Acqui, immersed in a colourful landscape covered with vineyards, it is divided into two boroughs: the oldest one on the hill, while the newer one extends further down the valley. Worth visiting: the parish church of San Giovanni Battista, the panoramic tower that offers a 360° view, and the little church of the Madonna del Poggio in the main square. At a short distance from the village we can admire the baroque Church of Santa Maria della Fraschetta.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 745284
Grognardo (200 m a.s.l)
A small village of very ancient origins that was already documented in the year 911 as a property of the Abbey of San Quintino in Spigno. Worth visiting: the seventeenth-century complex formed by the parish church of Sant’Andrea, the Palazzo Incisa Beccaria and a sixteenth-century residential building; the ruins of the Castle on the top of a wooded hill dominate the village.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 762103
Morbello (402 m a.s.l)
Differently from the other villages in the area, which are positioned on a hill or built around a castle, the village of Morbello is divided into several localities: Morbello Piazza, Costa, Vallosi and a number of other small boroughs scattered over a vast territory among the hills and the woods, all of them of great botanical and geological interest. The local woods, rich in mushrooms and chestnuts, represent a genuine tourist attraction, while the ruins of the Castle are found in the main square. Amaretti (almond biscuits) and torrone (nougat) are the most important local produce.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 768146
Prasco (245 m a.s.l)
It is divided into two parts: Prasco stazione in the lowland and the old centre nestled on the hill. Worth visiting: the castle owned by the Counts Gallesio Piuma- an interesting example of a “fortress building” – typical of the Monferrato, and the ancient Romanesque parish church of Saints Nazario and Celso near the churchyard.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 375703/37567
Ricaldone (285 m a.s.l)
The village is surrounded by unique scenery where vineyards and rows of grapes enhance the smooth and sinuous shapes of the hills. The entire landscape is strongly marked by centuries of human activity and the large farmhouses scattered among the vineyards bear witness to a rich and important agriculture, that already flourished in the past decades. Worth visiting: the Church of Santi Simone and Guida, dating back to the first half of the 16th century, with its fine paintings and frescoes, and the chapels of the Madonna del Rosario and San Giuseppe, as well as the Museum dedicated to the songwriter Luigi Tenco.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 74120
Strevi (150 m a.s.l)
The village of Strevi, at 5 km from Acqui, is renowned for its Moscato and Brachetto wines. Worth visiting: the castle dating back to the 14th century (now the town hall) enclosed by 15th century walls with its moat, and a number of noble buildings dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The parish church of San Michele, restored by the architect Caselli, enriched by the painter Ivaldi of Ponzone, known as “il Muto”. Inside you can also admire a beautiful representation of San Michele Arcangelo by Guido Reni.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 363124
Terzo (222 m a.s.l)
Situated on a cliff on the left bank of the river Bormida, the name of the village recalls that it was at “tertium-lapidem” that means at three miles from Acqui, on the important via Aemilia Scauri. Worth visiting: the 14th century tower, the only ruin of the castle and the churches of San Maurizio and Sant’Antonio Abate.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 594264
Visone (161 m a.s.l)
A very ancient feudal village that was first documented in the 10th century. Worth visiting is the castle, which preserves the remains of the walls with the Gothic gate and building, the slender 14th century crenellated tower and ruins of the defensive walls of the medieval village dating from the 11th century. In the cemetery, the ruins of a Romanesque apse belonging to a church dedicated to St. Peter are still visible. Quarries for the extraction of limestone are still preserved in the municipal boundaries. Visone is also renowned for its artisan nougat production. In the Catanzo district, along the road towards Morbello-Visone, you can admire the country church of Santa Croce built in 1595, locally known as the “Cappelletta.”
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 395297-395800
THE APENNINES OF THE ERRO VALLEY
Cavatore (516 m a.s.l)
Dominating Acqui and overlooking the Piemontese hills, Cavatore is probably one of the most interesting ancient villages in the area. The wide use of stone characterizes the old village centre where you can admire medieval and renaissance houses. Worth visiting: the medieval tower with a square plan, the parish church of Sant’Antonio, a number of medieval houses and buildings from the 16th-17th centuries. In the cemetery is the ancient parish church of San Lorenzo with its Romanesque apse that still preserves late Gothic frescos. In the village you can also find an Astronomical Observatory.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 320753
Castelletto d’Erro (544 m a.s.l)
It is one of the highest peaks of the Mountain Community considered the watchtower of the Erro Valley. The panorama is spectacular, and unfolds as far as the eye can see, across the Langhe hills to the Ligurian Apennines, to the Alessandrina plain, and faraway to the Alps, from Monviso to the Lombard mountains far away in the distance. In Castelletto you’ll be absolutely enchanted by the scents of aromatic herbs and the fragrances of peaches and strawberries, considered the gastronomical treasures.
Worth visiting: the fortified complex, now a square-based tower, the parish church of the Assunta, which houses various paintings ascribed to the Ponzonese painter Pietro Ivaldi, known as the “Muto” and the small chapel of Sant’Onorato located around 1 km from the village.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 342002
Cartosio (236 m a.s.l)
Located in the heart of the Erro Valley, Cartosio has very ancient origins, rich in historical events, it is nestled on a hill dominated by a quadrangular tower of presumably Saracen origin. The hypothesis is that Cartosio is the famous “Caristum”, the fortified city of the Ligurian Statielli, completely destroyed by the Roman armies, led by the Consul Popilio Lenate in the 2ndcentury BC. The presence of extensive chestnut and oak woods, rich in mushrooms and game make Cartosio a perfect holiday destination, where to relax and unwind. Worth visiting: the tower originating from the 10th century and the church of Sant’Andrea from the 17th century.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 40126
Malvicino (420 m a.s.l)
The Erro Valley landscape becomes more and more rugged, the cultivated fields are replaced by the woodlands. The village of Malvicino is a small jewel, with a handful of old houses gathered in the old square. Worth visiting are the country Renaissance church, the parish church dedicated to San Michele, a very old Romanesque church and the oratory that houses the Town Hall, currently the main centre for exhibitions and cultural events.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 340882 – 340918
Melazzo (254 m a.s.l)
The village is gathered around its castle, surrounded by high and solid walls, that once belonged to the Aquesana Counts, a noble Acquese family. Guido dei Conti dell’Acquesana was born here in 1004 and later became San Guido, Bishop and Patron Saint of the city of Acqui, who also commissioned the construction of the Cathedral. Worth visiting: the castle (outside visit /private property), the Oratory of San Pietro, the Baroque parish church of San Bartolomeo, the church of the Annunziata and the gardens of Villa Scati. On the opposite bank of the Erro torrent, near the hamlet of Arzello is the Romanesque church of San Secondo, and at a short distance you can admire the ruins of the Castle of Moncrescente, locally known as the “Tinazza”.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 41101
Pareto (476 m a.s.l)
Situated on the border with the region of Liguria between the woods of the Apennines, the village is gathered around the ancient Spinola castle (14th century), next to the beautiful 17th century parish church with a curved façade in a Ligurian Baroque style and several other medieval buildings with arcades. The 17th century parish church of San Pietro and the small church of Santa Rosalia are also noteworthy. The surrounding woodlands are very popular for the abundance of mushrooms, and the hamlets of Roboaro and Miogliola in the middle of the Erro valley are of particular interest; the whole area is famous also for spectacular lavender fields and aromatic herbs.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 019 721044
Ponzone (629 m a.s.l)
It is considered the 2° best panorama in Italy! Ponzone is surrounded by a wonderful landscape facing the Alps, with beautiful forests that smell of mushrooms and truffles. The area offers the possibility of hiking tours with cosy shelters in an idyllic natural scenery: peaks, valleys, forests, clearings, streams and villages, rich in different colours and scents in every season. From its belvedere you can enjoy a breathtaking view over all the Ligurian Apennines, the Monferrato and the Alps, and the nearby villages with their towers.
A medieval municipality, feud of a branch of the Aleramici family since 1167, centre of a foreign marquisate in the Bormida, Erro and Orba valleys. It passed to the Genoese in 1344, then to the Marquises of Monferrato and finally to the Savoy family. Worth visiting: the parish church of San Michele rich in baroque and rococo elements completed in 1627, it is among the largest in all the area, the Oratory of Santo Suffragio which houses the museum of sacred art, while at 3 km from the village lies the seventeenth-century Sanctuary of the Parish Church with the contemporary Via Crucis / stations of the Cross.
Ponzone is the main centre of an extensive territory scattered with several settlements, which includes numerous hamlets populated by tourists particularly in the summer season: CIGLIONE: a small hamlet that boasts a baroque gem, the church of San Bernardo, whose apse depicts the Cardinal Virtues, the Evangelists and the Last Supper was frescoed by Pietro Ivaldi (“il Muto”) and the parish church of San Colombano in the Romanesque cemetery are worth a visit; CALDASIO: a small village in the woods, an oasis for relaxation and rest; CHIAPPINO: a charming hamlet in a beautiful panoramic setting, a popular summer holiday destination; CIMAFERLE: it preserves in the small church a beautiful cycle of modern sacred paintings by Morando; PIANLAGO: overlooking the Erro valley, distinguished for the parish church with its extremely high bell tower (in the church is kept a rare painting by the Muto) and for the renown production of mushrooms and cheeses; TOLETO: birthplace of the painter Pietro Ivaldi known as “il Muto”, it preserves one of the most beautiful sixteenth-century churches; ABASSE: an excellent place for gastronomy and holidays, nearby is an aberch, a traditional chestnut drying kiln; PIANCASTAGNA: a typical rural village of the Apennines, it preserves a monumental Memorial recalling the massacre of the partisans during World War II; the Mountain Festival is a fixed annual event; MORETTI: immersed in a scenic landscape similar to the Alps, is the last village in Piedmont, where you can follow the n° 536 trail the “Ring route of Bric Berton”. There are many other trails all signed in the local area.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 78103
THE SPIGNO BORMIDA VALLEY
Bistagno (180 m a.s.l)
The village of Bistagno was built upon request of Enrico Bishop of Acqui in 1253, with the clear aim of organizing a fortified bastion on the road that from Savona led to Acqui Terme. Giuseppe Saracco, a famous politician and Mayor of Acqui Terme, was born in Bistagno and lived there for two long periods, from 1858 to 1867 and from 1872 to 1889.
Worth visiting: the “Giulio Monteverde” Plaster Gallery, the civic museum where the original plaster models by the native sculptor Giulio Monteverde (1837-1917) are exhibited; the Sanctuary of the Parish Church, with its architectural structure that preserves the characteristics of the late Baroque period (1600-1700); the Church of San Giovanni Battista where you can admire the statue of the Madonna “Consolatrix Afflictorum” by Monteverde and the slender medieval tower that is the only preserved ruin of the castle.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 79106
Denice (387 m a.s.l)
A charming medieval village situated at about 17 km from Acqui, considered an open-air museum, pleasantly arranged in a circle around the slender thirteenth-century tower, the only evidence of the destroyed castle. The small village is scattered with old stone houses and churches.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 92038
Ponti (186 m a.s.l)
The origins of the village date back to pre-Roman times; some historical information indicates that it was founded at the same time as the neighbouring town of Acqui Terme – the Roman Aquae Statiellae. The name Pontum was given to the village during the Roman domination, it derives from the bridges that the Romans built on the tributaries of the Bormida river during the construction of the Via Aemilia Scauri. You can still admire one of its milestones (Antonina column) dating back to the second century AD preserved under the portico of the Town Hall. Worth visiting: the ruins of the castle of the Marquises del Carretto and the parish church of the Assunta. The main event is the historical Polentone Festival, held every year on the last Sunday of April.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 596142
Merana (253 m a.s.l)
Situated on the border of the Alto Monferrato, it is characterized by steep woody hillsides and eroded marly badlands that are breaking up with a great number of fossils re-emerging back to the surface. Worth visiting: the fourteenth-century tower of San Fermo; nearby the tiny Romanesque church of San Fermo and the parish church of San Nicolao.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 99100
Montechiaro d’Acqui (570 m a.s.l)
A charming village built on a hill on the site of a pre-existing castle destroyed in 1646, of which only a few ruins on the ridge that divides the Bormida valley of Spigno from the Erro valley are still visible. It preserves a beautiful late Renaissance parish church with a wooden pulpit inside. A number of medieval houses and the oratory of Santa Caterina, used as a small peasant museum, can still be admired in the village. The traditional festival of the “anciuada del Castlan” (the Castlan’s anchovies) is held every first Sunday in May, and recalls the historic salted anchovies trade. The gastronomic speciality is the “formaggetta”, the typical robiola of the Alto Monferrato and Langhe areas.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 92393.
Spigno Monferrato (258 m a.s.l)
A characteristic medieval village situated in an extensive valley between marly hills at the confluence of the Valla stream and Bormida river of Spigno on a fluvial terrace of the river Bormida, featuring narrow alleys, archways and tiny squares. Worth visiting: the late 16th century parish church of Sant’Ambrogio, the remains of the 14th and 16th century castle and a medieval fortified bridge over the river Bormida. Nearby is the ancient Abbey of San Quintino (private not open to the public), founded by the Marquises Aleramici in 991.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 91155
LOWER BORMIDA VALLEY
Cassine (190 m a.s.l)
This is one of the most beautiful and best preserved villages in the entire Acquese area, where among numerous medieval and fifteenth-century houses with terracotta façades, the magnificent Church of San Francesco stands out. The church is considered to be one of the few significant examples in Piedmont of Lombard Gothic architecture with Cistercian influences.
Palazzo Zoppi – already property of the Visconti family dates back to the 14th century. The court of honour with its lower Gothic arches and the chapel with interesting frescoes by Piedmontese school, the Madonna and Child are also noteworthy. It also preserves 15th century frescoes by Lombard school. Lastly the Romanesque church of San Giacomo, with its fifteenth-century bell tower, is of great importance.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 715151
Castelnuovo Bormida (123 m a.s.l)
A rural village on the banks of the Bormida river characterized by an impressive castle. Worth visiting: the castle, established between the end of the 10th century, beginning of the 11th century (outside visit/private property), the 16th century church of the Madonna del Rosario and the church of San Rocco.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 714535
Morsasco (328 m a.s.l)
Situated in a panoramic position, overlooked by the Pallavicino castle formerly belonging to the Malaspina family, it was built in medieval times and later modified in the 17th-18th centuries. The Romanesque church of San Vito, with 14th century frescoes, situated near the cemetery is worth a visit.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 73022
Orsara Bormida (220 m a.s.l)
In the early Middle Ages, the village was established as a possession of the church of Acqui Terme. It still preserves its castle, originally a watchtower, built around the year 1000, and converted into a castle in the 14th century. The magnificence of the castle is enhanced by numerous artistic elements as paintings and sculptures of the period. Worth visiting: the Ethnographic Museum located near the castle, the parish church of San Martino that preserves a fine painting by Monevi representing the Madonna and Child.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 367057
Rivalta Bormida (140 m a.s.l)
A village with an organized urban plan, situated in the lower Bormida Valley, on the right bank of the river. Rivalta is made up of a settlement on a river terrace and several hamlets situated in the hilly area. Worth visiting: the old town centre with Palazzo dei Torri, Casa dei Biorci, Case del Vicolo Baretti, the parish church of San Michele and the Oratory of San Sebastiano, that are all still well preserved.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 372163
Sezzadio (127 m a.s.l)
A large village extended in the lowlands. Worth visiting: the convent complex of Santa Giustina, including the Abbey, the Villa and other buildings. The abbey was founded around the year 722 by King Liutprando and according to legend Aleramo – the founder of the Monferrato – was born there.
The parish church, dedicated to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, built in 1900 according to the project of the Bolognese engineer Giuseppe Gualandi, is considered to be one of Gualandi’s masterpieces.
For further information you can contact: Town Hall 0131 703759 – Abbey 0131 703659.
Monastero Bormida (191 m a.s.l)
Monastero, as its name indicates, was founded by a group of Benedictine monks. The evidence of this monastic past is still tangible in the original Romanesque belfry of the Abbey, subsequently used as a bell tower it is connected to the castle by an arched bridge. Worth visiting: the castle – built around the 14th century as an annex of the ancient Benedictine Monastery of Santa Giulia, the Romanesque humpback bridge, the parish church of Santa Giulia and the ancient parish church of San Desiderio, a jewel of Baroque architecture. Monastero was the birthplace of Augusto Monti, an antifascist writer and Cesare Pavese’s mentor.
For further information you can contact the Town Hall: 0144 88012