It is located between two large woods, the Selva Pallarea and the Foresto wood; the plain extends towards the Belbo valley until the main hamlet of Villa, which is characterized by its old tower, which is still silhouetted against the horizon as in stubborn defence standing among ruins of the ancient manor house in despite of its age.
The first documents about this fortification date back to the 10th Century: in 967 a document about the yearly incomes of the land churches destined to the Bishop of Savona, Bernardo, reported the presence of a fortress in this place.
It was just a small fortified house with the aim to defend the village, but it was very important for its position, since it was at the crossroads of the most important roads which connected the Piedmontese hinterland with the Ligurian Riviera, along the so called “salt road“.
In the 15th Century the ancient fortress was turned into a castle.
The building survived to one thousand years of wars, plague and cataclysms; eventually it was destroyed by the locals in 1937; only the tower was spared, and just because nobody knew how to pull it down.
From the top of the tower, at thirty metres of height, you can enjoy a wonderful landscape: the view opens to the hamlet of Villa and over the whole Bormida Valley.
Theme of the stop: “Hundreds of orchids and other flowers”
The Baroque Church of S.S. Annunziata with its precious high altar made of fine polychrome marble mosaics and the peculiar leaning bell tower is worth visiting.
The nature of the region will surprise you: the Riserva Naturale (Wildlife Sanctuary) Sorgenti del Belbo, which is located among the villages of Montezemolo, Camerana and Saliceto, is a particular, unique and uncontaminated part of Langa. The area is perfect for trekking, riding a horse or a mountain-bike, or even for cross-country skiing.
The rural ingenuity has developed a great skill in the exploitation of self-sown vegetation: herbs, shrub and trees are used for cooking, medicine, house building, tool manufacturing or ornamental purposes.
Many wild fruits grow spontaneously: chestnuts or walnuts are rich in calories and they are the basic ingredients for many typical recipes of the Langa.
Plants and herbs are often used for cooking and medicine: for instance nettles are used for the filling of agnolotti, while mallow has sedative properties.
Even if these herbs are used every day for cooking and medicine, please remember that a large number of plants are protected. A regional regulation prohibits the picking of about seventy species in the region of Langa and Roero; in particular picking wild orchids is strictly forbidden: the forty-three different species present in the Langa are a unique richness of this region, since they represent almost the half of the Italian orchid species.