Let's allow ourselves in a weekend in the shadow of Monviso between Ostana and Chianale.
The Cuneo area offers mountains and valleys, woods and pastures but also many small villages to discover.
Ostana is located in the heart of the Po valley, Chianale is instead the highest in the Varaita valley. Both are included in the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
It is from Cuneo, a delightful city at the confluence of the Stura and Gesso rivers, the southernmost capital of Piedmont, which we leave for Ostana.
These are the extensive countryside of Cuneo to accompany us to the historic Saluzzo, after passing, between the main centers, Busca and Costigliole Saluzzo. Continue following the provincial road of the Po valley. Once in Crissolo, before entering the town, turn right and go up to Ostana.
Villa, Ciampagna, Sant’Antonio, San Bernardo, Bernardi and Serre are the numerous hamlets in which Ostana divides, lying along the gentle slopes in the shadow of Monviso, the king of the Cozie Alps.
The capital of this village linked to the Occitan culture is Villa, seat of the town hall and characterized by beautiful houses in wood and stone.
The interesting ethnographic museum should be seen in the capital, where the rooms of the past are reconstructed, such as the stable and the cellar with the objects and tools of mountain life.
We continue the tour in the hamlets including that of Sant’Antonio, 1350 meters above sea level, which rises upstream of the parish church and is dotted with beautiful houses of Occitan bill as well as presenting a small church with a facade with eighteenth-century frescoes and a large protruding cover. Then the pastures and the breathtaking view of the Monviso that dominates with its impressive shape.
Typical local dish is potato polenta and buckwheat, served hot with cheese. Another dish of the Ostanese tradition is that of anchovies with green, which are salted and boned and placed in oil, parsley, garlic and chopped chilli sauce.
We leave Ostana and the upper Po valley to return to Cuneo as evening falls in the Cozie Alps.
Second day of the weekend in Chianale, which we reach by passing again from Busca, an interesting historical town, to go up into the valley and pass through Sampeyre and Casteldelfino, where there is a portion of the Bosco dell'Alevè, the largest indigenous pine-wood pines of the 'Western Europe, an area protected by the European Union.
We then arrive at Pontechianale, a scattered municipality in the valley formed by a series of hamlets.
The old chief town, Chiesa, was the protagonist of the chronicles of the Thirties when it was submerged by the waters to give life to an artificial reservoir for the production of electricity.
The towns that today form the municipality are Castello, 1608 meters above sea level, where there is the artificial barrier that forms the homonymous lake, Maddalena, a renowned winter and summer tourist center where the town hall is located, and Chianale, at 1800 meters high, the last village of the valley, beyond which the road continues to the hill of the Agnello, a pass that combines, in good weather, the Varaita valley with the French valley of the Guil.
The village of Chianale is very interesting for its beautiful alpine architecture in stone and wood, a perfectly intact center rich in important architectural ideas including the "tetes coupèes", ancient apotropaic symbols, carved in stone, of Celtic origin, of which examples of the walls of houses can be admired.
Structure of the village centered on the axis of the ancient Chemin Royal, the ancient salt road that linked the high Varaita valley with France.
To see the fifteenth-century church of Sant’Antonio with its bell tower, and the baroque parish church of San Lorenzo of the eighteenth century. Particularly striking is the Lake of Castello, which you meet before reaching the village, a summer tourist destination, but also of great charm during the winter season.
In the Varaita valley you must absolutely taste "Les ravioles", potato gnocchi made with cheese and served with melted butter, a substantial dish that we enjoy before buying a nice piece of mountain pasture from one of the local producers, and start again vault of Cuneo, capital of this area of Piedmont rich in valleys, history and Occitan culture.