Acqui T. – Cavatore – Ponzone
Malvicino – Cartosio – Melazzo – Acqui T.
Itinerary of great panoramic interest on the ridge of the hilltops that dominate the valley of the river Erro that reaches the Ligurian Apennine mountains in an almost alpine landscape.
From the Bagni area on the other side of the river Bormida, follow the road direction Sassello and after approximately 500 metres turn left and follow for Ponzone. After 7 km you will arrive in CAVATORE (516 metres a.s.l.) a beautiful medieval village dominated by its tower. The Tower was constructed to keep watch over the roads that lead to Acqui from south to west, and is one of the best examples of its kind; it is a tower with a square base, of perfect masonry, with a small access door at around 1/3 of its height. The village also preserves several medieval stone houses and buildings from the 1500-1600s. Nearby in the cemetery is the Romanesque Church of S. Lorenzo, with 15th-16th century frescoes. Patron Saint S. Lorenzo (10th August).
From Cavatore, continue in the direction of Ponzone, where a panoramic view extends all across the Erro valley and you’ll reach CIGLIONE a small hamlet, with the baroque church of San Bernardo, inside the apse was frescoed by Pietro Ivaldi known as “the Mute”, that depicts the Cardinal Virtues, the Evangelists and the Last Supper; also to visit is the church of San Colombano situated in the cemetery. Continue the itinerary towards CALDASIO, a small hamlet tucked away in the woods, a little oasis perfect for relaxation, and then proceed towards PONZONE (629 metres a.s.l) located on the ridge that divides the torrents Erro and Visone, considered the “second most panoramic Belvedere in Italy”. It is the main centre of a vast territory scattered with many villages, that in the summer months attracts a lot of tourists. A medieval town, feud of a branch of the Aleramici family, since 1167 the centre of a foreign Marquis in the Bormida, Erro and Orba valleys. In 1344 it passed over to the Genoese, then to the Marquis of Monferrato and finally to the Savoia family. From the Belvedere a wonderful landscape unfolds as far as the eye can see extending across the Ligurian Apennine mountains, the Alps and the nearby villages, whose towers emerge and create a picturesque setting. The village preserves the Oratory of S. Suffragio that houses the Museum of Sacred Art from the 17th century, among which various works of art stand out such as a ligneous group « Visione di S. Giovanni Evangelista a Patmos » by the Genoese artist Antonio Maria Maragliano (1664-1741) and various carvings from different periods, and the Parish of S. Michele rich in baroque elements. The historic centre preserves several old houses with stone portals, and the castle, now reduced to ruins, destroyed by the Spanish in 1646, once property of the Marquis of Ponzone. It is the land of mushrooms, of cheese, of truffles, of desserts and the centre of production of the esteemed salami filetto baciato. Patron festival San Giustino on the 3rd Sunday of September.
For those who have more time at their disposal and would like to complete the full itinerary with a panoramic view across the Ligurian Apennines, may follow this route: from Ponzone, continue along the ridge overlooking the Erro valley among beautiful scenery of woodlands rich in chestnut and pine trees, and you’ll arrive in CHIAPPINO, a charming hamlet in a beautiful panoramic location and a popular place for summer holidays; CIMAFERLE, that preserves a small church with a fine collection of modern paintings of a sacred theme, opera by Morando; TOLETO, home of the painter Pietro Ivaldi known as “the Mute”, that houses one of the most beautiful 16th century churches; ABASSE, a resort renowned for the gastronomy; nearby is an aberch –a traditional chestnut drying kiln; PIANCASTAGNA, a typical rural hamlet, that preserves a monumental Memorial Chapel (Sacrario di Piancastagna) that recalls the massacre of the Partisans during the Second World War; in Autumn the Mountain Festival takes place; MORETTI, is the last hamlet in the region of Piedmont on the border with the region of Liguria, surrounded by picturesque almost alpine scenery, where it is possible to follow the n°. 536 trail “Ring walk of Bric Berton”.
Alternative or after you’ve completed the full itinerary: after the village of Ponzone, around 500 metres on the right follow the road n°212 direction CARTOSIO, where a small winding road leads you down the Erro valley, and after around 3km on the right you’ll reach the Sanctuary Nostra Signora della Pieve founded in the 11th century, but rebuilt in 1694, with the chapels of the “via Crucis”. The facade preserves a baroque portal from the second half of the 17th century, and inside are beautiful canvases of Piemontese and Ligurian school. The legend recalls Our Lady that appeared to a deaf-dumb girl that was pasturing her sheep, and asked her to construct a church here. The girl miraculously started talking and was believed by everyone.
Afterwards, continue travelling down, and at the bottom near the bridge of Guadobono, we suggest a visit to the locality FOGLI that is particularly animated during the summer, and also a visit to PIANLAGO distinguished for the church’s high bell tower, an area renowned for mushrooms and the production of formaggetta cheese.
Before reaching Cartosio, we suggest a visit to MALVICINO, a little gem of a village, with a handful of old houses, all gathered around the piazza, with a rustic renaissance church, the country parish church dedicated to San Michele, an old Romanesque construction surrounded by woods, and the oratory, restored by the local municipality, used for cultural meetings and exhibitions. Mushrooms, chestnuts and game are the main treasures found in the immense woods that cover great part of the local territory.
After you’ll arrive in CARTOSIO, in the heart of the Erro valley (236 metres a.s.l.) that preserves a tower, or rather a house-tower characterised by a very high entrance equipped with a drawbridge, the ruins of the walls and castle, once property of the Asinari, grand bankers from Asti, who were also feudatory at S. Marzano Oliveto and Lu in the 16th century. The parish church of Sant’Andrea of late baroque forms, is rich in 19th century decorations, and the Madonna della Pallareta, an old place of worship complete the visit.
Continue travelling through the Erro valley among picturesque scenery until you reach the village of MELAZZO (254 metres a.s.l.) gathered around its castle, enclosed by high, powerful walls, once property of the Aquesana Counts, a noble Acquese family, where San Guido was born, Bishop and Patron Saint of the city of Acqui to whom we owe the construction of the Cathedral. Inside a memorial stone recalls that Edward II, King of England hid here after his deposition (1330-1333). The baroque parish church preserves a canvas opera by Moncalvo along with other beautiful canvases. Adjacent is the oratory of San Pietro, martyr of the baroque era. Not far away in locality QUARTINO, is a 19th century nobleman’s manor with a spacious park, called Villa Scati, once property of the Avellani and afterwards of the Scati family, one of the oldest local families. From here you may return to Acqui (2km).