4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
The Roa Marenca starts from the centre of Mondovì, Breo district, and crosses the villages of Vicoforte, Torre Mondovì, Roatta, Serra Pamparato, Pamparato, Valcasotto, Colla di Casotto, Garessio and Trappa, ending with the arrival in Ormea. Before riding, take some time to discover the beautiful Mondovì, the Breo district and the Piazza district, at 612 m, easily reached by the panoramic funicular designed by Giugiaro.
From here you can visit the medieval village and reach the Belvedere with its clock tower from where you can see the surrounding plain and the hills of the Langhe. Then you start on the splendid Via delle Cappelle (there are seven, in the most panoramic points), always at high altitude, to reach the Sanctuary of Vicoforte, with the largest elliptical dome in the world.
Today it can be visited inside (www.magnificat-italia.com), with breathtaking views of the 6,000 square meters of frescoes, among the largest in the world.
From the roundabout in front of it, next to the healthy springs "Le Acque", begins the ancient route of the Roa Marenca that takes us to the village of Moline, a real ancient "tollbooth" of this road, which here took the two branches: for Val Casotto or Val Corsaglia. From Moline, whose name betrays the presence of these ancient instruments, one still visible on the Corsaglia stream, you reach Torre Mondovì and immediately climb towards Roata, on an ancient Roman road, Via Savinia.
A stop at the high village (550 m) of Torre Piazza will allow you to discover another viewpoint, a rare botanical garden and a jewel square.
It continues through chestnut woods on the ancient Via Savinia that will take us below the Monte Savino (1,088 m), poised between the streams Casotto and Corsaglia.
Leaving the hamlet of Roata we come across the curious Madonna del Pilone, still a resting place, with the ancient pylon of 1630, to protect against the plague, later incorporated into the church, at the back.
Once out of the wood, in the Cattini area, you will have a magnificent view of the mountains that separate you from the sea, and the more adventurous can explore (with a torch) even the Grotta dell'Orso, in the bottom of a sinkhole, that is the ancient subsidence of the karst soil.
We are at the gates of Serra di Pamparato, on the same road where the Savoys used to pass by in a carriage, heading for their hunting lodge of Valcasotto, built on an ancient abbey of the Carthusian monks.
We continue towards the village of Pamparato, a gastronomic stop where we can taste buckwheat polenta, mountain potatoes and the local speciality, the meliga biscuit.
The Roman bridge, the 23 fountains of the village and the centuries-old lime tree are worth a visit.
Continue towards the "Colla di Casotto", the lowest pass used in ancient times for the exchange of goods between Liguria and Piedmont.
It is impossible not to stop in the village of Valcasotto, where the cheese is aged, and taste the local meliga cookies, still all handmade.
This village was born from satellite homes of the Certosini estate and was one of the first places where the Partisan Resistance of Northern Italy was born.
A must for Colla Casotto (1,380 m), now a Garessio 2000 ski resort, to enjoy the first view of the Ligurian Sea.
You then descend to the beautiful old town of Garessio.
The state road 28 quickly connects to the village of Ormea (city of the elms), the gateway to the Roa Marenca towards the sea.
It runs alongside the river Tanaro and the railway (now used historically) with its tollbooths and its romantic stations.
The Val d'Inferno and the scenic Saracen tower of Barchi are stages full of ancient charm.
In Ormea you just have to get lost in the medieval heart of its "trevi" (equivalent to the Ligurian alleys) with the "Tour of the Heart", and climb to the ruins of the Castle from where you can dominate the city and the Val Tanaro.
The Roa Marenca and the streets of white gold. They were those of the transport of "salt" (necessary to preserve food), a time so precious as to be sometimes exchanged for the same value of gold! The use of the refrigerator at the beginning of the twentieth century has made these roads obsolete, but now they are to be rediscovered, with all the charge, still current, of culture, nature and flavors! 60 km of secondary asphalt roads through woods and mountains from which you can venture on dirt roads through some rings. POINTS OF INTEREST: The Tanaro Valley is the traditional bridge connecting Piedmont and the Ligurian Riviera in the nearby provinces of Imperia and Savona.
The landscape is therefore very varied and rich in contrasts.
Large spaces extend between Ceva and Garessio with its gentle hilly slopes covered with woods, while the landscape becomes rough and lively towards Ormea, where the road that runs alongside the river Tanaro touches exceptional rocky structures of quartzite that emerge from the dense vegetation.
The highest part of the valley offers tourists unforgettable mountain environments and landscapes, from Upper Brig to the villages of Viozene and Upega, from the springs of the Tanaro to Mount Mongioie. The valley has an important history, marked by the passage of populations and trade since pre-Roman times, as evidenced by the findings found in the small but picturesque Val Pennavaira. Remains of castles in Nucetto, Perlo, Priola and Ormea follow one another, alternating with those of the Saracen towers, a tangible sign of the invasion of Saracen bands that went as far as the Piedmontese valleys between the 8th and 11th centuries.
Bagnasco has a Roman bridge, while Garessio is worth a visit for its ancient medieval village, the geospeleological museum, the Sanctuary of Valsorda and the waters of the S.
Bernardo springs, which are sold all over the world.
In winter, winter sports lovers can experience the thrill of skiing while seeing the sea from the slopes of Garessio2000. Ormea is an important summer resort, surrounded by thick forests.
The historical centre, with its strong Ligurian influence, is marked by alleys called "trevi" (alleys).
The parish church of S.
Martino boasts fourteenth century Gothic frescoes, a crucifixion by Moncalvo and a precious ethnographic museum.
The ormeasco dialect, which is spoken only in Ormea, is a curious mixture of Piedmontese, Ligurian, French and Arabic phonemes, a linguistic heritage due to the passage of the Saracens.
Also from the gastronomic point of view, Ormea is a sort of enclave: fözze, tultei fritti, sc-ciancui, are just some of the local specialties that are accompanied by light wines such as sciac-trà. Bagnasco beans, Ormea potatoes, white Caprauna turnips and white and dried chestnuts, called "garessine", are some of the products of the valley's agriculture, while in the woods there are fragrant mushrooms as well as delicious blueberries and wild strawberries.
From the mountain pastures come characteristic local cheeses: from the small Sore or Tome, to the large forms of Raschera d'alpeggio, while the most typical dish is the Saracen polenta, to be accompanied with the traditional sauce of milk, leeks and mushrooms.