He reached the ravine and clambered up over its muddy track and was on the slopes of the gigantic, mammoth hill of Mango. The black woods which seemed to be carbonised, leant over him undulatingly, and the open, fleetingly glimpsed grassy slopes on some of which herds were grazing, appeared as high and motionless as a pile of wandering boulders stopped by a miraculous hand in the midst of the vertiginous hillsides.
(Beppe Fenoglio, Johnny the Partisan)
A first-time visitor to Mango will gaze upon the most wild and profound part of the Langhe, the hills that are consecrated by Beppe Fenoglio in his Partisan novels. Arriving from Neive or Manera, a traveler cannot be other than awed by the scenes of forests mingling with vineyards, between the steep and rugged hills and gentle slopes of geometrical perfection of the vineyards that characterize the territory of Mango.
Photos from www.ilpaesedimango.com
The first traces of human inhabitation date back to the Trajan period from Tabula alimentaria, a text that the Emperor had drawn up in the second century that mentions the name Mangiana colonia, generally attributed to be the first attestation of Mango’s existence. However, it was not until 1275 that Mango resembled what we see today: a town spread out along the crest of a hill 500 meters above sea level between the Tinella and Belbo Valleys. It was here that the three villages of Frave, Vaglio, and Vene, in the aftermath of their destruction at the hands of Asti for retaliating against Alba, decided to found a new town. They would name it Mangano, which later became Mango.
Some hold that the medieval name of Mangano comes from a war machine from that era, accentuating the impregnability of the new town’s position.
A legacy of the medieval period, the Castle of Mango dominates the ancient town with its massive, austere walls. Built in the 14th century as a defensive fortress, it was transformed in 1680 as a summer castle residence by the Marquis of Busca, who were the lords of Monferrato and Saluzzo at that period. Today, on the ground floor the castle holds the Regional Enoteca “Hills of Moscato,” most certainly an obligatory stop for anyone traveling to discover the food and wine of the region. On the second floor is the Castello di Mango Restaurant, where one may taste traditional cuisine while admiring the elegant, Baroque interior of the one-time fortress.
Walking down from the foot of the castle along small, steep Via Roma, don’t lose yourself in the town streets just yet. First, pause to admire the parish church dedicated to Saints Giacomo and Cristoforo, which has been the most important religious center in Mango since the 16th century. Even more impressive than the 18th century facade is its Baroque belltower, built in the mid-1700s on the ruins of an ancient tower.
The construction of the belltower took a solid 11 years, from 1742 to 1753. The clock itself was a gift from the Marquis of Busca.
Winding through the ancient homes of the village, you will come upon several stops of the Fenoglio itinerary. This unique route lets visitors discover famous places taken straight from the novels of the celebrated writer, Beppe Fenoglio. This panoramic series of stops invites the visitor to contemplate the countryside that unfolds around them through the eyes of characters such as Milton and Johnny, transforming the landscape into a voyage through literary memory and time.
The Casaforte Alba in Langa is an elegant place to stay, and this ancient stone building is located just steps away from the castle. Other than the castle’s afore-mentioned restaurant, not far from the city center is the Trattoria del campo, which offers traditional Piemontese cuisine and wines for excellent prices.
If you prefer the tranquility of the countryside, a few kilometers west of Mango is Casa Bardacchino, an ancient stone farmhouse that has been restructured and converted into a hotel. Or, to the north of Mango is Agriturismo Brusalino. For a cozy bread and breakfast with a breathtaking view, stop near San Donato to stay in the All’ombra del pero, whose courtyard opens up to the expansive beauty of the Langhe, over hills and vineyards until, on a clear day, the Alpine peak of Mount Viso in the distance.
What to see
Castello di Mango
Piazza XX Settembre - 12056 Mango (CN)
Parish Church and Belltower of St.s Giacomo & Cristofero
Via Roma, 2 - 12056 Mango (CN)
What to buy
Enoteca regionale colline del Moscato
Piazza XX Settembre 19 - 12056 Mango (CN)
Tel.: +39 0141-89291
Where to eat
Ristorante Castello di Mango
Piazza XX Settembre 20 - 12056 Mango (CN)
Tel.: +39 0141-89141
Trattoria del campo
Località Canove 41 - 12056 Mango (CN)
Tel.: +39 0141-89330
All’ombra del pero
Località Torretta 5 - 12056 Mango (CN)
Tel.: +39 0141-839834
Where to sleep
Casaforte Alba in Langa
Via Molinari 31 - 12056 Mango (CN)
Tel.: +39 0141-89384
Località Bardacchino 26 - 12056 Mango (CN)
Tel.: +39 0141-89559
Borgata Brusalino 43/a - 12056 Mango (CN)
Tel.: +39 0141-89326
Translated by Diana Zahuranec