THE CALL OF THE WOODSMun frà, or in other words “mattone per ferrare” (brick for shoeing). Legend tells that the Emperor Otto I granted Aleram, the Marquess of Monferrato, as much land as he could cover on horseback in three days and three nights. The Marquess rode without stopping, using the bricks he found along the way to fix the shoes his horses lost
Monferrato is the section of the vast hilly area extending from the right bank of the Po as far as the Ligurian Apennines that lies in the provinces of Asti and Alessandria. It’s a fairly varied land, whose common feature is the regular rows of vines that mark out the entire area.
Unlike the Langhe, where the effects of human habitation are everywhere, the hills of Monferrato have retained a wilder, purer dimension, with huge swathes occupied by woods, cultivated fields and natural areas of pristine beauty. The soils here originated in the Miocene era and are rich in marl, but nearer Asti they become more sandy and clay-like, rich in fossils, indicating that this was once the seashore. Further north, towards Casale Monferrato, the rock turns to sandstone: this is the famous Pietra da Cantone, used for most of the buildings in this area. Typical of this area are the infernòt: small chambers carved out of the rock to form domestic cellars; also their grown-up sisters, the Underground Cathedrals of Canelli, impressive systems of caves and tunnels beneath the hills, used for ageing great wines.