The ancient word “Monferrato” has un uncertain etymology, but mons ferratus clearly refers to the horseshoes of the Aleramo family that defined the boundaries of the feud with a memorable ride that dates back to the year 1000. But it is more likely that the word is derived from mons ferax, which means fertile hills, covered with vineyards but also olive trees and wheat, brought here after the conquest of Cisalpine Gaul by Caesar in the first century BC. A land full of history, legends and mysteries, such that of the golden bell, hidden somewhere around the Abbey of Vezzolano, whose tolls will be heard clearly on the eve of the Apocalypse … hopefully as late as possible.
Montferrat was recently included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, together with Langa, because of its inseparable union of culture, history and landscape, which is characterised, as we will see, by the highest density of Romanesque abbeys in northern Italy, with real treasures, such as Vezzolano, San Secondo di Cortazzone, Santi Nazario and Celso di Montechiaro and many more, but also charming castles, like those of Cortanze, Piea, Gabiano, Montiglio, Camino. Places wrapped in mist telling the story of a Carolingian Marquisate from the Middle Ages which survived until the modern era.
Monastero del Rul is located within a nature reserve of regional interest surprisingly preserving precious botanical, arboreal, but also faunistic finds. A land where the presence of agriculture has not eliminated the secular woods of oak and beech trees that nature has deposited on these hills, as well as rare plant species and flowers, such as the orchid of Albugnano or orange lily. The presence of a rich fauna, wild boars, foxes, badgers, squirrels, weasels and martens and some deer, as well as the presence of a rich bird life in an environment characterised by an exceptional biodiversity, offer you formidable naturalistic experiences, such as bird watching, day and night. Our family has acquired, in almost thirty years, 60 hectares of agricultural land and allocated it to a complete and radical re-naturalization that is giving, as you will see in our educational and natural itineraries, extraordinary results.
An old peasant land which is ideal for viticulture and where some old professions were born, such as that of the “vigneron”, the winemaker and the master cooper. But also woodworking and basket weaving, metal forging, and also terracotta artisans, chalk carvers and meridian painters. All this is supported by an active network of eco-museums that can be visited by anyone and that are rich in information and suggestion. Then there are many fairs and festivals with small markets in every season of the year, so that everyone can see all the beautiful treasures of this land, according to the calendar that we will provide you.
This area offers an amazing range of typical dishes, including bagna càuda, autumn and winter boiled meat and Agnolotti del Plin, eaten on a white tablecloth immediately after being taken from a broth of red wine. Not to mention the truffles, black in summer and white in autumn, prepared according to ancient and delicious recipes, and local mushrooms, vegetables and also vegan dishes. But those who love meat can try the extraordinary fassone of Piedmont, whose ribs have nothing to envy to the Tuscan Chianina. And also: pheasants, hares and pharaohs, as well as rabbits, cooked according to old recipes belonging to the Asti area. Of course, all dishes are accompanied by a collection of wines from Piedmont, including Barbera d’Asti, Freisa, Albugnano, Nebbiolo and Dolcetto, as well as a special selection of twelve wines from Piedmont offered by Monastero del Rul, each chosen to be tasted in a specific month of the year and vinified and bottled by our partners of, Carlin de Paolo in San Damiano d’Asti, who are also friends and members of our family.
It is no coincidence that this land was called “the land of the saints”, having given birth to some of the most important Christian figures in the history, such as Don Giovanni Bosco from Capriglio in Castelnuovo D’Asti, with San Domenico Savio, his beloved disciple, and Maria Mazzarello from Nizza Monferrato, the foundress of the Salesian Sisters. And then Don Bosco, San Giuseppe Cafasso Don Bosco from Castelnuovo, the redeemer of those sentenced to death, Giuseppe Allamano, the founder of the Consolata Missionaries and, not far from here, in Murialdo, Don Orione, Giuseppe Cottolengo and many others who have enriched the history of the Church and the Salvation Army with their extraordinary work. Nearby, you can visit the Colle Don Bosco with its immense sanctuary and the Becchi, the birthplace and museum of Don Bosco. But also the birthplace of Cafasso, Allamano, San Domenico Savio, and one of the most extraordinary Sacred Mountains of Northern Italy, the Sacred Mountain of Crea. Not far from here, with an extraordinary hiking pilgrimage of a few days, on the road connecting Jerusalem to the east and Santiago de Compostela to the west, to Colonia to the north and Rome to the south. And then there’s the little Lourdes of Piedmont, where Marianna appeared for the first time in the nineteenth century, with the flow of a water source, in 1803, twenty-seven years before the better-known appearance of 1830, erroneously considered by many as the first. The water source is located next to the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces in Villanova d’Asti.
This area, located 549 metres above sea level, called the “Balcony of Montferrat”, up to the banks of the Po, offers you the chance to practice all kinds of sports activities, including mountain biking and horse riding, walks through woods and vineyards, jogging, canoeing in the Po River, not far away, fit walking and social hiking. And also, if you want, archery lessons with experienced instructors and Zen Yoga classes, but also, and above all, the opportunity to experience the woods in all their forms and during all seasons of the year and at all hours of day and night, with sensory and truly unique activities. And finally, dancing, to celebrate the most significant days on the calendar of traditional farms, around the fires of St. John, at wine festivals or at Carnival.