Located between Lombardia and Liguria regions, Curone, Grue and Ossona Valley area is situated in the south-east part of Piedmont region, in the province of Alessandria. Easily reachable via the A7 – leave the motorway at Tortona or Castelnuovo Scrivia. This area wants to tempt you with well known and less known routes to be discovered. Small places to be visited, each one with its own landscape, economic potential and social structure.
Curone, Grue and Ossona Valleys are situated in a unique hilly location naturally inclined to fruit-growing and wine-growing, giving important white and red wines.
The three valleys, characterized by different histories, traditions and cultures, represent a homogeneous and natural mosaic. The mountains give place to hilly landscapes: Curone valley soft Apennine profile is Grue Valley forestage with the backs of its hills, merging with those on the right side of Scrivia river; clear geometries drawn by the vineyard decorative pattern of Curone, Grue and Ossona hills, while regular vegetable and fruit crops can be found in lower Curone Valley.
Going up towards the head of the valleys, the hills are more precipitous and the fields under crop make place for oak and chestnut woods, where the special microclimate is ideal for edible boletus and in particular for black and white truffles, wealth for this territory.
The valleys end with the massif of Giarolo Mount (1473 m), the natural symbol of this side of the Apennine range, passed through by the old “Salt Route” that goes down to the sea surrounded by an almost totally unpolluted background.
Since time immemorial, the mountains and the wide availability of water and fodder spurred, among valley dwellers, cattle, swine and sheep breeding, present still today according to ancient traditions and with due regard to nature and its balance.
Montebore cheese production recovery, a thousand-year-old valuable cheese, the real example of “gastronomic archaeology” and guarded today by slow food, is one of major assets touching off in these valleys the important project for livestock and cheese sector revival.
Woods, plains, hills, vineyards and fruit orchards are the attractive frame of an area rich in historical-artistic emergencies.
The only way down the Salt Route and its branches, throughout the centuries the three valleys were protected by castles and fortified villages and enriched also by romanesque churches, chapels, paths, sanctuaries, charitable institutions, and convents.
From a historical-cultural point of view, the valleys boast resources of great worth, thanks to the presence of illustrious men and famous artists renowned worldwide.
Important archaeological excavations were made in some areas of Curone Valley, such as Guardamonte di Gremiasco (site of paleontological interest) and in the municipalities of Brignano Frascata and Momperone.
When coming here, you can also retrace the roads of Fausto Coppi, the “Greatest Champion”. It is possible to visit the home-museum of this famous cyclist, the centre for documentation, Castellania Mausoleum (his native village) and have lunch in the restaurant dedicated to him, that is to say “Il Grande Airone”.
You can go and preach in the Fogliata Sanctuary (Casalnoceto municipality) in memory of Don Orione, the Saint renowned worldwide and born in the near village of Pontecurone, who repaired the sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin to show his gratitude for his call to the priesthood.
You can then have a relaxing break visiting Volpedo village, its “Quarto Stato” Square and the surrounding hilly landscapes once painted by the painter Giuseppe Pellizza, native of this village and today famous worldwide.
You can also take a walk through the narrow lanes of the medieval village of San Sebastiano Curone discovering the place where Felice Giani was born in, one of the most important painters of Italian Neoclassicism, after Antonio Canova. In 1997, a bas-relief was dedicated to the artist in the square of the village.
Medieval castles and remnants of fortified settlements can be found, for example, in Pozzol Groppo, Brignano Frascata, Montacuto, Dernice, Montemarzino, Fabbrica Curone, San Sebastiano Curone and Gremiasco (here, the XII century castle is today a private dwelling) in the Curone Valley and Sant’Alosio in high Ossona Valley.
In the centre of Fabbrica Curone village you can admire an interesting romanesque church, while the church of Gremiasco still shows the Romanesque apse of the old structure, transversal to the current one; it was restored in 1996 and today it guards the Blessed Sacrament.
And what about bringing back the ancient tastes of our cooking, matched with the excellent wines we produce?
This area is characterized by a “borderline cuisine”, just like dialects, habits and customs (as you can see from our ethnographic museums), that is nevertheless perfectly integrated with the food resources of this area.
The culinary traditions are strictly linked to those of Liguria, Emilia Romagna and Lombardia regions. This clearly shows that a culture, in this case the gastronomic culture, is always based on the exchange of products, on people meeting and moving. Throughout the centuries, it was just cooking that gave its important contribution to local trade, promoting the flow and the exchange of ideas and knowledge, and of local raw materials, with the introduction of new raw materials as well.