Things to do
With terracotta-roofed buildings clustered around an impressive 15th-century castle, the Monastero Bormida itself could lay claim to much of your attention. Its grand fortress – once a Benedictine monastery – houses mosaics and frescoes, and its Romanesque bridge spans the Bormida River. For another historical fix, drive to the region’s capital Asti, and discover its intriguing medieval past as ‘the city of a hundred towers.’ Or wander around nearby Acqui Terme. Famous for its Ancient Roman credentials, it also has churches galore and charming cobblestone streets.
Nothing accompanies beautiful architecture like wonderful wine. And in this part of Italy – listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – you’ll have some of the finest vintages at your fingertips. From full-bodied Barolo reds to zesty Moscato d’Asti, this is the place to taste exceptional Italian grapes. You can even explore the famous ‘cathedrals of wine’ in Canelli – underground wine cellars carved into the city’s limestone foundations.
The people of Monastero Bormida and Piedmont live to eat. And who can blame them? Hazelnuts, pasta, cheese, artisan chocolate. Daily food markets, alive with colour and scent. The celebrated white truffle fairs held in Alba every autumn. All of it is grown, picked, cooked and enjoyed with a treatment bordering on worship: this part of Italy is, after all, home to the ‘slow food’ movement.