It’s said that autumn is the second coming of spring, with each leaf representing a flower. It’s the season of changing colours, when nature transforms, wearing its warm shades in preparation for the cold to come. Autumn seems to be made for starting a new book, for making pumpkin pies, and for enjoying a glass of red wine in the garden, wrapped up in a wool sweater. But it’s also the best time to take a trip outdoors, maybe take the whole family to look for chestnuts and coloured leaves.
Today, we’re showing you one of the classic trips to be made during this romantic season, searching for the beauty and the products of one of the most visited regions at this time of year.
We’re in Piedmont, taking our electric car for a weekend outdoors. Let’s go on a chestnut hunt!
Today’s itinerary starts in Turin, after fully charging the car at one of our charging points on Via Giordano Bruno, setting off in the direction of Casale Monferrato and its splendid countryside.
Moncalieri and its castle
The first stage of the journey takes us just 10km from the city limits, to the old town of Moncalieri, dipping into the history of the House of Savoy.
Once through the arch at Porta Navina the town opens up to bring you the atmosphere of a bygone time, where you can get lost walking among the historic centre’s alleyways, up the hill until you reach the Castle.
Moncalieri Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, is perched atop a hill at the heart of the old town, guarding the River Po, and represents the illustrious history that this little town has maintained since antiquity.
Built in the 12th century at the behest of Thomas I of Savoy, the Castle is one of the oldest Savoyan residences, as well as being the most loved by the female members of the House of Savoy, thanks to its monumental elegance and strategic location.
Today, the Castle is partially open to visitors. It boasts a museum and offers guided tours of the royal apartments and its marvellous 10-hectare park with English-style garden.
At this point we’ll have some lunch, pausing in one of the trattorias in the historic centre to sample the local tripe, one of this area’s distinctive dishes. Then, off we go!
The next stage is a journey of around 100km, through breathtaking countryside of vineyards in a thousand shades of red, until you arrive at Casale Monferrato.
Monferrato: land of saints and wines
Monferrato is a huge area that ranges from picturesque hills to the rice fields of the great plain. A continuous and marvellous undulation of vineyards and wooded areas, sheltered towns, fascinating castles.
Once you arrive at Casale Monferrato, a historic town bathed by the waters of the Po, you immediately breathe in the atmosphere of a rich and vivacious culture.
Leave the car in the spacious car park at Piazza Castello, noted for its castle, which was the ancient seat of the Gonzaga family. Go through the heart of the town, passing by Via Saffi, dominated by the Torre Civica one of the town’s iconic sights, until you get to the monumental Piazza Mazzini.
You must take a moment to stop in one of the many boutiques in the historic centre to buy some of the area’s characteristic products: muletta, a traditional matured sausage, krumiri, the town’s famous biscuits, and a good bottle of Barbera d’Asti Superiore.
Don’t miss the chance to visit the majestic Cattedrale di Sant’Evasio, in Lombard Romanesque style, and have a well-deserved stew in one of the historic centre’s trattorias.
After a day discovering the flavours and the beauty of this area’s charming and historical towns, the second day of this itinerary immerses you in nature and surprises you with its shapes, colours and scents.
Leave Casale di Monferrato at 10 a.m., travelling towards Montemagno, around 25km away.
The Monferrato of the Infernot
There’s one curiosity that merits a slight deviation from the itinerary, to make a quick visit to the famous Infernot del Monferrato: small subterranean chambers dug out of the rock, without light or ventilation, traditionally used to store bottles of wine.
To the chestnuts of Montemagno!
Montemagno is known for being one of the most beautiful towns in Monferrato, characterised by its narrow medieval alleyways with special wooden balconies that lead you to Piazza San Martino, one of Piedmont’s most admired squares.
Don’t forget to charge your electric car at the charging point in via S. Giovanni Bosco, and while it’s charging, go for a walk through the town’s silent alleyways that are immersed in history.
Just a few steps from the centre of town, there’s a hilly expanse of farmland, dotted with dense wooded areas: the next stage of our itinerary.
Entering the road that stretches out from the castle ramparts to the south side of the town, in just a few minutes you’ll emerge in the fairytale countryside that this area is famed for. The scenery changes constantly, alternating between vineyards and woods filled with beech and chestnut trees that offer visitors a pleasurable and realxing walk.
Here, you can stock up on chestnuts, a classic ingredient in this area’s cuisine, an indisputable symbol of autumn to be eaten by the fire, surrounded by the whole family.
The weekend is about to end, it’s almost time to return to Turin, after this relaxing interlude of autumnal tastes and colours.
Our last piece of advice: try a slice of the chestnut cake that’s typical of these enchanting places and then have a safe trip!