The trail called "Grande Traversata delle Langhe", or Gtl, (Great Langa Trail), joins the village of Saliceto to the town of Santo Stefano Belbo. It runs along the hilltops separating firstly the Bormida and Uzzone valleys and secondly the Belbo and Bormida valleys. Nearly 60 km in length, this trail is an excellent route for walkers and, in particular, mountain bike enthusiasts: a fit rider can expect to cover it in a couple of days without any great difficulty. For cyclists, we would advise the direction Saliceto-Santo Stefano as the uphill stretches are on metalled road and the downhill ones on paths.
The Great Langa Trail
A pathway to discover the Belbo, Bormida and Uzzone Valleys
Length: 12,55 km
Take the road leading out of the village towards Cortemilia from the main square, ‘Piazza del Municipio’ (389 m a.s.l), and then turn right into Via Moizo. After a few hundred metres, the road turns sharp left towards the hill above. It then winds its way up to some farmhouses, after which the tarmac comes to an end (2.4 km). Follow the gravel track along the crest of the hill, as far as the distinctive votive shrine to the “Madonnina” built on the rocky outcrops. After a few metres, leave the gravel track for a rougher section to the left, which starts out with a short climb on an unevenly-paved surface (3.3 km). A long, flat section through woodland leads to open grassland providing beautiful views. Go straight on when you reach a crossroads, continuing along the ridge on the gravel back into the wood. Carry on along the crest, following the main track (there are a large number of minor tracks made by wood-cutters) round to the left until you get back to the metalled road again. Follow this up to the right through the extensive pastures of Baraccone farm and its solitary votive shrine (5.7 km). At the next junction, take the lane off to the left. Ignoring several turnings on the way, you soon arrive at an easily-missed crossroads (6.3 km). Turn off to the left onto the path that goes gently downhill across Bricco Baraccone. Be careful over the last section (when riding a horse or a mountain bike), as there are some stony ”steps”. In a short while you’ll emerge onto the hill dominated by the votive shrine known as “Of the Four Roads” (7.05 km), where the Bormida and Uzzone valleys communicate. Pass in front of the shrine across the asphalt, and follow the gravel road, which - after a few metres downhill - climbs slightly up to a characteristic “saddle”. The trail continues through the wood to the right, and then climbs to the left at the first junction, on a section that’s often muddy until near the top. A long undulating section leads through a wood comprising beech trees, chestnuts and scattered pines - and, towards the end of the wood, Turkey and immature oaks - to a turning off on the left downhill to some farmland from which the Sanctuary can be made out to the right. Continue on the un-made road until you get to another easily-missed crossroads: here, continue to the right and, after crossing a tiny stream, turn left until you emerge into the wide-open spaces surrounding the ancient Sanctuary of the Madonna of Gottasecca. A pause to enjoy the peace and quiet is practically a must before visiting the Sanctuary, where you can also top up your water supply at the fountain (10.2 km). To reach the village, go back up to the junction on the crest of the hill, and then climb up towards the left for several hundred metres before taking a left fork. On the next bend, a track leading off to the left can be taken to avoid the tarmac (it is not signposted: at the end of a flat section it climbs up to the right, and then - following the main track - reaches a spring; continuing up a slight gradient, there are some cobbled sections before it takes you back onto the ridge near the first house in the village). If, on the other hand, you continue on the asphalt, the road goes up as far as a votive shrine, before descending into Gottasecca. Cross the road round the village to pass between two rows of houses leading into the village square (the fountain is at 710 m above sea level).
Length: 7,5 km
Length of section: 7,5 km Total distance: 20.05 km From the square in Gottasecca, take the road that climbs up to the cemetery; near its entrance, follow the cart-track leading off to the left on the level. A “Nature trail” has been created by the ‘Comunità Montana’ in this section of the Bormida Valley Trail : detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna (easily identifiable by numbered posts) help provide a greater awareness of this particular environment (there’s also a detour for history enthusiasts: a right turn at the first junction leads to the top of the hill, and the ruins of the old castle). Follow the unmade track up to a crossing near an aqueduct tank, and then along to the left into the wood. Ignore the path heading up to the top of the hill, continuing towards the right. When you reach the crest in a sparse pine-wood, descend until you come to the metalled road to Prunetto. Follow this road, which starts out on the flat and then - past the shrine - climbs steeply, as far as Bricco della Colma, a magnificent viewpoint over the upper Bormida Valley. Turn sharp right off the asphalt at the top onto a flat track heading into the Beech Wood, which is particularly pretty despite the thinning out that has taken place over recent years. A brief but rewarding detour can be made by taking a right turn at a clearly-visible fork in the path to admire a thick group of great beech trees that create a particularly picturesque setting. This is the last place in the Upper Langa where these splendid trees can still be admired: once very common, they now only grow in small groups within the damper valley areas. Returning to the trail, the wood comes to an end shortly near a small picnic area, where there is a sudden, wide-ranging view over the Uzzone Valley below, and Prunetto castle perched on the hill opposite. The track bends round to the left, dropping down to pass through the courtyard of the first farmhouse in the Piani hamlet. A road then continues down to a junction leading to more houses, before winding down to the left through some woodland as far as a sweeping right-hand bend at the head of the valley leading towards the village of Prunetto. Keep to the right at a junction near a trattoria car-park to end up opposite the parish church (fountain, 672 m a.s.l).
Length: 9,25 km
Length of section: 9.25 km Total distance: 29.3 km Take the provincial road a short way towards Levice (about 250 metres), before turning left into Via Castello, a steep, winding road leading to the entry arch of the splendid castle on top of the hill (750 m). Built by the Marchesi Del Carretto, it recently underwent a well-deserved renovation. It now belongs to the village municipality and is open to visitors (on Sundays and by arrangement). It can also be admired from the outside by climbing up to the nearby church and crossing the large lawn. Together, the castle and the church, (which possess Romanesque foundations and were dedicated originally to San Lorenzo), are among the finest monuments in the Langhe offering a truly majestic panorama. To follow the “Sentiero della Valle Bormida”, pass in front of the cemetary then descend until you reach the Levice main road at the Serra hamlet; the road runs along the broad hill crest here and cannot be avoided. At a junction immediately after a lovely picnic spot (with water fountain), take the lane in the middle up towards “Bricco”. After about 400 metres, turn left where the lane widens out, and take the track (not very easy to make out) that heads off between two groups of trees around the courtyard of a house. Continue alongside some fields until you emerge onto a gravel track. A short way down to the left lies a junction above Cascina Coste, an isolated farmhouse standing amidst vast pastures and young conifers. Ignore the road that leads off to the farm, and follow the metalled road along the side of Bricco delle Forche, right up to the top. Carry on to the left, on the road leading into the wood, staying on the ridge for a long flat section. A steep climb, followed by an undulating section, leads to a votive shrine on the panoramic Pian della Croce; avoid the roads leading off to isolated farmhouses. Take a section of metalled carriageway, which then crosses the road onto a gravel track that continues along the crest of the hill; after a junction there is a slight rise, and then a long, panoramic plain before a drop to a marked saddle, just above Levice (mountain bikers should take care over this very last section). Climb up to the right for a few metres on a made-up road, and then continue through a chestnut-grove. Keeping to the left at a fork, you will come out in an area of farmland near Bricco Massimino, which is dominated by an isolated farmhouse. The road widens and there is a fast descent on asphalt through the woods to some sports facilities and a camp site on the outskirts of the village of Bergolo. After another few metres you arrive in the village square (fountain, 616 m a.s.l).
Length: 5 km
Length of section: 5 km Total distance: 34.3 km Starting out from the village square, take the road up to the Romanesque church dedicated to San Sebastiano. Continue alongside the cemetery wall to your right, and follow the crest as far as a slight rise (wooden cross). Then go down to the left, following a footpath through the pine trees until it widens out and - to the right - there is a fork in the road leading onto a gravel track. Ignoring the steep unmetalled road leading up towards Bricco delle Forche, descend to Cascina Fontana (ex- Cascina Vicario). Continue past the entrance to the farmhouse, round a couple of bends, and then cut across a wide hollow before going down towards a characteristic hillock sparsely covered by a pine wood. A few metres before reaching a saddle, take a concealed path off to the left into a lovely wood, continuing as far as a recent unmetalled road which ends near an isolated farmhouse. Continue up for another few metres on the gravel path until, just after the fence, you get to an unmetalled path to the right. From here on, especially if you are travelling on horseback or bike, the route becomes much more demanding, with steep and stony sections. You now have to take the steep path to the right, bearing then to your left after a few metres and follow the crest of the hill skirting the woods until the end of the plateau area.The path then enters the wood, bearing to the left, and leads down to a small stream. Cross the stream, and continue alongside a lovely dry-stone wall, past some vine terraces. Then there is another descent with paved sections down to a tarmacked road. Take the road to the left for about 300 metres, and then turn off onto a track that drops down rapidly to the right towards Cortemilia: a fork off to the right - not easy to make out, and with a stony surface deeply worn by water run-off - arrives as far as the first houses on the outskirts of Cortemilia. At a crossroads, take the gravel road down to the blocks of flats and back onto the main road you left at Bergolo. Cross the road into a very narrow alley (pedestrians only), which leads into Piazza Savona square in the middle of the town (250 m a.s.l).
Length: 8,7 km
Length of section: 8.7 km Total length: 43 km From Piazza Savona square take the middle road crossing the foot bridge over the Bormida river then walk across the attractive piazza Molinari square. Turn right and take Corso Divisioni Alpine street to the left at the corner of the Town Hall. In front of the ex-convent of San Francesco take the cobbled road which rises enclosed between high walls. At the end of this road, near the impressive but ruined castle walls, turn left up a metalled road alongside wide terraces until you come to the church of San Martino. From here, turn right uphill and around some bends within the woods until you get to the top of the hill. From here, the path is unmetalled and flat. After a crossroads, carry on along the hilltop path and then descend until you reach the isolated Cà Rossa house. Here, turn right onto the metalled road which gently descends the hill to Castino. When you arrive at the crossroads where Cascina Lodola is indicated, abandon the metalled road for a path which at first is flat but then descends rapidly down to the first houses of the village. Turn left and in front of the Town Hall descend to the right along Via Negro road until you arrive in the village’s central square (567 metres a.s.l).
Length: 14,1 km
Length of section: 14.1 km Total length: 57,1 km Follow XX Settembre street in the direction of Cossano Belbo and the Scorrone hamlet. After about 600m, just after the cemetary, turn right up a steep metalled road following the signs for ‘S. Salvario’ until you come to the historical votive shrine. At the nearby crossroads carry straight on along a flat gravel path. After passing an attractive, recently-restored farm house, the path descends to the metalled road in the Località Castello hamlet. Carry on to the left for a few metres and then take a gravel path up to the right where the road branches, following the sign to Vesime. The trail passes through a lovely chestnut wood and is almost flat until it descends to a crossroads near Cascina Imperatore farm house. Here, it climbs steeply along an unmetalled path for a brief stretch until you arrive at a stone wall. To the left, here, you arrive at the top of the hill and a path with lovely views which then leads into a wood of oak and pine, subsequently descending again to a piece of metalled road (signed ‘Strada Cadacanelli’). Here, the trail takes you uphill until the the next saddle (signed ‘Strada Ghirardi’) where you keep on uphill along the middle pathway. After passing a pic-nic area and cultivated fields,(about 300m), take the metalled road signed ‘Strada Madovito’uphill to the right until you get to the top.Carry on through this cultivated area until you come to the knoll of vineyards topped with Cascina Langa Soprana farm. Turn right downhill at the first crossroads and after about 100m follow the sign for Santo Stefano Belbo to the left. This section of the trail offers a marvellous view over the Belbo Valley to the right and leads to a crossroads on the crest of the hill. Here, you leave the metalled road taking the central path which leads through a wood of immature oak to the wide stretch of vineyard suspended above the Cascina Borgna farm and the valley below. Ignore the first two left turns, which lead into the wood, and continue uphill between wood and vineyard. A stretch of well-kept pathway leads gently upwards to a small clearing at the top of the hill. Here, take the path downhill to your left until you come to a wide saddle and the panoramic metalled road which bears to the left towards the radio mast situated on the top of Bric Bertrani (621 metres a.s.l). Just before the fence, the road turns down to the left until you get to the Cascina Cà Nuova farm on its hillock and the war memorial in honour of the fallen soldiers of località Falchetto hamlet. Follow the sign to Rocchea along a flat road to the right which runs through wooded areas and vineyards which run steeply down towards the Rocchea valley floor, until you come to Frazione Monti hamlet. Just after this, turn left following the sign to Torre. At the first crossroads (sign-posted Casotto), take the middle road indicating the church of S. Libera. Once past this hamlet, you come to the second crossroads and ascend towards Santo Stefano, already visible, up the steep path on your right. This takes you past the ruins of the tower to the little town’s historical centre. Take via Marconi street and then immediately on your left you will arrive at Piazza Umberto I square, where the trail terminates (170m a.s.l).
Length: 14,1 km
From Santo Stefano’s central square, Piazza Umberto, (170 metres a.s.l), take Via Garibaldi street and turn right, following it alongside the blue building which houses Radio Belbo’s headquarters then around some steep uphill bends until you come to a medieval tower. At the crossroads in Santa Libera hamlet take the right turn in the direction of the little church and, ignoring the crossroads for Località Casotto hamlet, continue uphill – with lovely views over the Belbo Valley – until you get to Località Monti hamlet. Carry on to the right, along a flat road, following signs for Loazzolo, and facing the Rocchea Valley. When you get to the war monument in Località Cà Nuova hamlet, turn left for a few metres and then right onto a gravel path towards some water containers. The road runs along a stream and, after passing an attractive farm house, you come to the top of the hill where there is a large electricity pylon (621 metres a.s.l). Continue along the crest of the hill, descending to the right, and looking out over first the Bormida Valley with its backdrop of the Ligurian Appenines, and then over the Belbo Valley and the Alps. At the next crossroads, you leave the metalled road for a flat path to your right. Carry on along the hill crest, entering first a vineyard and then a wood. At the top of the hill you descend through thick vegetation, emerging into the open near a beautiful amphitheatre-shaped vineyard in the Bormida Valley. Take the path leading up to the top of the hill until you get to a crossroads where you follow the flat, unmetalled road until you come to another crossroads. Here you turn right, following signs to Cossano Belbo, and then almost immediately left along the Cadacanelli road. After a long, very panoramic, stretch along the hilltop, the road descends to a crossroads with Strada Madovito road, where you continue to the left. After a small pic-nic area and a couple of bends, you come to the crossroads with Strada Ghilardi road. Stay on the flat hilltop road until you arrive at the next small saddle, where, at the crossroads, you leave the metalled road again to climb up through the attractive chestnut wood that covers the hill. A well-made section of path runs along the crest and then, after a cultivated area, turns right downhill along an un-made road until you come to another saddle with a crossroads. Follow the flat gravel path which descends to a crossroads, mainly through woods. Once again on the metalled road, bear left, (sign-posted Pallarea), and continue uphill past an atractive restored farmhouse until you come to the votive shrine dedicated to San Salvario. From here, again on the metalled road, you descend until you come to the main road. Continue to the left until you arrive at the historical centre of Castino with its central square, Piazza Buenos Aires (567 metres a.s.l).
Length: 8,7 km
Length of section: 8.7 km Total length: 22.8 km From Castino’s small central square, (567 m), situated next to the Alba- Cortemilia main road, you take a short stretch of Via Negro street and then turn into Via San Rocco street. At the next junction, turn right uphill until you get to the end of the unmetalled road and, at the end of one of the cobbled sections, you get to the top of the hill and its splendid views. Follow the path through cultivated fields until you come to a small metalled road: here, you bear left following the hill crest until you get to the isolated Cà Rossa house. Bear left at the next crossroads along a gravel path which enters the woods, thereby abandoning the ‘Sentiero della Valle Belbo’ trail. At the first obvious fork in the road, keep left, along the top of Bric Castelmartina hill. Here, you are back on tarmac and, after a couple of bends, you arrive at the little church of San Martino. Follow the small metalled road downhill among terraced fields towards the impressive ruins of Cortemilia castle. Walk around the castle and, at a bend, leave the metalled road for a cobbled lane flanked by dry stone walls. You reach the metalled road again at the bottom of the valley near to the old convent of San Francesco. Turn right and, once past the Town Hall and the river Bormida, you soon arrive at Piazza Savona square.
Length: 5 km
Length of section: 5 km Total length: 27.2 km From Piazza Savona, on the corner of via Cavour (250 m), take the narrow Via Langhe up to the right. Cross the main road to Bergolo onto Via Martiri di Bologna street and continue as far as an old farmhouse. The road then goes up to the right, and after some blocks of flats carries on up to the left as a gravel track. At a crossroads, follow the path in the middle that leads on up across to a small wood. After a couple of steeper bends, there is a wider gravel track up to a made-up lane. Follow this round to the left for about 300 metres, and then turn off to the right on a track that’s not immediately evident. After some vine terraces and a lovely dry-stone wall, cross a stream and climb up steeply until you leave the wood. Continue alongside some farmland as far as the courtyard of an isolated farmhouse (hidden by some old trucks!); then turn right to come out onto the bend in a gravel road. Follow this to the left for several metres, and then take a flat track off on a bend. Take the left turning at the next junction, following the older route for a good way through the woods until you reach a more obvious track. Turn sharp right, and follow the amphitheatre round the hill which used to be a vineyard. A couple of bends later you will arrive at a lovely farmhouse, Cascina Fontana, and the track - now covered in gravel - runs along the crest of the hill. Leaving behind the first road (which climbs up towards ‘Bricco delle Forche’), continue up to the next fork, turning left into a pine-wood towards the crest of the hill (wooden cross) and the magnificent viewpoint offered by the beautiful Romanesque church dedicated to San Sebastiano. From here take the made-up road down to the square in Bergolo (fountain, 616 m a.s.l).
Length: 9,25 km
Length of section: 9.25 km Total distance: 14.25 km Follow the lane leading to the camp-site, and then continue on the metalled road heading off to the right at the entrance to the bungalows as far as an isolated house. Keep to the ridge of the hill and climb up to the right, past a votive shrine, to the top of ‘Bric Massimino’, which is dominated by an isolated farmhouse. The surface becomes gravel here and is flat, leading into a lovely chestnut-grove. Keep to the right at a couple forks in the path and carry on as far the saddle above the hamlet of Levice. After a few metres of metalled road, turn sharp left and climb up between bushes on a section of hard track. Ignore the roads off down to the right and left, following the wide ridge on a slight rise. Continue over a crossroads, and take the metalled road that climbs up gently to the panoramic ‘Pian della Croce’ (votive shrine). Keeping to the ridge on what is now a gravel track, continue climbing to the top of the hill. After a short descent, the crest of the hill will take you onto asphalt to the saddle on the slopes of ‘Bricco delle Forche’. Climb up a few metres and then, near a deposit of the mains water aqueduct, down to the right as far as a fork in the road a few dozen metres from Cascina Coste, an isolated farmhouse in the midst of fields and conifer plantations. Leave the metalled road, turning up to the left onto a rough track through the fields as far as a modern villa. Turn right after the villa onto the metalled road that leads down to the main road, then - past a nice picnic spot (fountain) - along the ridge as far as the Serra hamlet. At the next junction following the signpost to the right for the castle on top of the hill. Built by the Marchesi Del Carretto, it recently underwent a well-deserved renovation. It now belongs to the village municipalty and is open to visitors (on Sundays and by arrangement). It is well worth admiring from the outside as well though, climbing up to the nearby church and crossing the large lawn). Together the castle and the church (which possesss Romanesque foundations and were dedicated originally to San Lorenzo) are among the finest monuments in the Langhe, and offer a truly majestic panorama. Follow the wall alongside the entrance arch and then take the steep Via Castello road down to the left, through the oldest part of the village. When you reach the main road, turn right to arrive at the parish church (fountain, 672 metres a.s.l).
Length: 7,5 km
Length of section: 7.5 km Total distance: 21.75 km Take the road leading up from the crossroads (fountain) opposite the church, and - following the signs for ‘Pian Rocchetto’, ‘Bosco’ and ‘Piani’ - turn left at the first fork in the road, immediately after the trattoria car park. Continue climbing gently past farmhouses, and then take a sweeping bend round to the left, through some areas of woodland as far as the turning for the ‘Piani’ hamlet. Turn up to the right to the last, isolated farm. Enter the courtyard, and then climb up to the right towards the crest of the hill, where the last “ciabot” - or hut – looks out over both Prunetto castle and the Uzzone valley. Continue into the Beech Wood, near a small picnic area. At the first crossroads, it is worth making a detour to the left to see a particularly picturesque and abundant group of tall beeches. This is the last place in the Upper Langa where these splendid trees can still be admired: once very common, they are now only occasionally found in the damper valleys. Back on the track, carry on towards the left onto the crest as far as the crossroads on ‘Bricco della Colma’. Turn left onto the asphalt, making a rapid descent past a votive shrine and an isolated farmhouse. A final section on the flat leads to a path that climbs up to the left into the woods - first a sparse pine wood, followed by a younger chestnut grove. A “Nature Trail” has been created by the ‘Comunità Montana’ in this section of the Bormida Valley Trail : detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna (easily identifiable by numbered posts) help provide greater awareness of this special environment. Back on a more visible track, keep to the left until you reach a crossing marked by a area belonging to the Langhe aqueduct. Go downhill to the right for a few metres and then round to the left on a track across a flat piece of land (there’s also a detour for history enthusiasts: a left turn at the first junction leads to the top of the hill, and the ruins of the old castle). A short way off is the entrance to Gottasecca’s cemetery and a right turn down to the village square (fountain, 710m a.s.l).
Length: 12,55 km
Length of section: 12.55 km Total distance: 34.3 km\ From the square, take the road down past the parish church through the old part of the village. Cross the ring-road, and follow the signs for the Sanctuary. Climb up to the last house in the village (the signposted path continues on tarmac to the left, slightly uphill; on foot, however, it is possible to follow the path passing behind the house to the right; after a few metres uphill, go round to the left and descend gently below the crest; the path links up again with the trail on a bend in the metalled road). Keep to the tarmac, following the ridge past an ancient votive shrine and then dropping down steeply to the wide-open spaces surrounding the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Gottasecca. Continue round to the right near another large picnic area to reach the holy building (fountain). Return the way you came but, instead of going up to the left, continue along a track that heads to the right into the woods. A bend to the left and then another to the right lead to a small stream. Go up past the stream and turn left at the next fork near a meadow. Go up towards a chestnut-grove: here, there is a steeper climb, followed by a section alongside some meadowland. The track then goes back into the wood rich in oak trees. A final climb takes you up to the ridge, where the trail becomes flat and shady. It continues up and down until a steep drop down to the left, which is often muddy. After a right fork, carry on along a level section to a characteristic “saddle”. A drop down to the left on what is now a gravel track leads - with a short final climb - to the metalled road at the so-called “four ways” crossing (votive shrine). Cross over the asphalt and take the path a short way to the left that heads up into the wood. A few stony “steps” created by rivulets of water make this section hard work, but it’s just a short way up to the crest of the hill, where a left turn leads gently up across the slopes of ‘Bric Baraccone’ to a clearing. Keep to the right, and continue on as far as the votive shrine above the isolated Cascina Baraccone, which stands at the centre of extensive pastures. Carry on along the ridge until the surface is asphalted and there is a bend in the wood. The trail then heads off along the crest to the left, on a track leading round to the right to a crossroads in the middle of large fields. Follow the track in the middle along the crest, entering the wood again after a short way. There is a steep cobbled section before you leave the wood onto a gravel track near a characteristic rocky outcrop. Carry on to the right, past the shrine known as “della Madonnina”, as far as the end of the gravel section near some farmhouses. The road then heads down quickly round sweeping bends to the first houses on the outskirts of Saliceto. At the end of the descent, turn right alongside the village green to the main road running through the Bormida Valley. The village square - the end of the trail - lies round to the left (389 m a.s.l).