If you’re in the Monferrato, take a trip to the Sanctuary of Crea to enjoy one of the most beautiful trails in the area. This walk runs along the highest hill of the territory and leads towards the Sacred Mount of Crea, or Monte Sacro. Don't forget about the pleasures of a pause to taste the local wines!
Visualizza Crea, tra sacro e profano in una mappa di dimensioni maggiori
The Sanctuary of Crea is not just a place of worship, but also one of natural beauty. Reach the Sanctuary by departing from the Bottega del Vino in Moncalvo and going along the state road towards Casale, turning for Ponzano. Upon reaching the hilltop, you'll find yourself in a piazza with a church dedicated to St. Maria. Admire the vast collection of ex voto, or saint offerings. Among the most interesting pieces is a pair of red velvet slippers and a bodice weaved of gold, used in a harem in Istanbul before the 1800s. These both come from a girl who was kidnapped by the Turks in the waters near Livorno, but was miraculously saved by her brother who, incredibly, was able to ransom her.
From the piazza, follow the winding trail towards the center of the natural park of Mount Sacred. The Ristorante di Crea will prepare a “pilgrim’s basket” for a stop during the hike in one of the picnic areas at the top. The trail, full of flora and fauna, follows 23 chapels dedicated to the life of the Mother of Jesus, culminating in the chapel of Paradise. The pleasant walk proceeds under the shade of an oak and ash forest, the forest floor bursting into bloom in the springtime with red lilies, wood anemone, and fragrant orchids.
Tradition has it that the Sanctuary was founded by St. Eusebio, bishop of Vercelli, around 350 AD. Eusebio himself brought the wooden statue of the Madonna with Child, venerated still today, and built the first oratory. To reach the Sanctuary, you may also take the shortcut, which is easier but has fewer panoramas. Happily conclude your walk with a gelato from Caffè di Crea or a slice of hazelnut cake.
If you're searching for local wines, head over to the nearby estate Tenuta La Tenaglia. Sabine Ehrmann, the friendly and outgoing owner from Germany whose father is the owner of the well-known Ehrmann Yogurt, will recount the history of the winery, zone, and cellars for aging wine.
Finish your visit with a tasting in one of the rooms dedicated to art displays, in line with the winery’s philosophy to unite the pleasure of art with that of gastronomy. It is not by chance that Sabine’s husband Giuseppe Olivieri is a painter and sculptor. He also designs the wine bottle labels, which display scenes with a provocative wine god Bacchus. If unwilling to leave this estate with its vineyards that form a natural amphitheater around the property, you may also book a stay at one of the two rooms.