Not far from Turin, easily reachable from Genoa and Milan, the territory between the beautiful and ancient cities of Asti and Alessandria encloses a wonderful landscape patrimony: Monferrato, UNESCO World Heritage site, where valleys, gentle hills, vineyards, woods, castles, small village, sanctuaries and romantic “pievi” come one after the other; on the horizon, the Langhe hills with their white arid badlands and the Roero hills. It is a land of excellent wines and truffles, of parks and naturalistic reserves, of walks in the countryside on foot, by bike or on horseback, excursions among hills and wine cellars, a land of art and culture and of many nurseries, one more special than the other. Our itinerary will guide you at the discovery of unusual shrubs and trees, collections of hortensias and flowering apple trees, Indian shot and lotus flowers, water lilies, aquatic irises and marsh plants and more.
The map indicates the nurseries and the other locations of the suggested itinerary. For each nursery, we indicate its distance from the others, in order to facilitate you in the choice of the ones to visit and their order.
Azienda agricola Val Mundoni, Castelnuovo Don Bosco (Asti): it is a very special nursery, established by Silvana Riccabone following her passion for Indian shots. It produces more than 35 varieties of Indian shot (Canna x hybrida, Canna x generalis): giant, dwarf, medium, aquatic, phytodepurative, flowering, gladiolus, orchids, with giant or small flowers, with ornamental foliage. They originate in the moist and open forests of tropical Asia and America, Indian shots conquered European gardens during the 19th Century, up to the second half of the 20th Century. These rhizomatous plants flowering in summer and easy to cultivate, yet delicate under -5°C, are now appreciated again thanks to their exotic foliage and their striking flowers that give an irresistible tropical touch to gardens and balconies. Distance from other nurseries: km 11 from Fiorella Gilli – km 28 from Valleversa – km 50,5 from Eta Beta – km 74,5 from Vivai Pennone – km 88 from Manuflor – km 96 from I Giardini e le Fronde.
Villanova d’Asti (Asti): Fiorella Gilli, graduated in Agronomy, cultivates in the Piedmontese plain, with a typical continental climate and an unfavourably clayish soil, countless trees, shrubs and vines, rare and unusual, with collections of horse chestnut, American witch-hazel, aronia, clematis, Ceanothus, Cornus, Cotoneaster, Cotinus, Euonymus, Philadelphia, Spiraea, hortensias and rose. Fiorella also produces some perennial and acid-loving herbaceous plants, designs and realises gardens. The nursery is next to its charming garden, surrounding the house, that is also a B&B. Distance from other nurseries: km 36 from Valleversa – km 11, from Val Mundoni – km 58,5 from Eta Beta – km 76 from Vivai Pennone – km 90 from Manuflor – km 100 from I Giardini e le Fronde.
Valleversa Vivai, ad Asti (AT): the nursery extends over 2 hectares of which 500 m2 are occupied by greenhouses; it cultivates annual and perennial flowering plants, trees, bearer plants, shrubs, roses, hortensias, azaleas, vines and, especially, clematises and wisterias, with interesting collections. Distance from other nurseries: km 29 from Eta Beta – km 28 from Val Mundoni – km 36 from Fiorella Gilli – km 47 from Vivai Pennone – km 54,4 from Manuflor – km 74 from I Giardini e le Fronde.
Eta Beta, Conzano Monferrato (AL): Enza Romano and Gianni Ricci’s renowned nursery is specialised in aquatic and ornamental plants, and plants typical of marshlands: rustic water lilies, big, medium and dwarf lotus flowers, oxygenating, floating and marsh plants and a collection of Chinese dwarf lotus flowers. They are also experts of the aquatic fauna and grow small fishes, frogs, tree frogs, seafood and turtles to animate water gardens. They realise ponds and small lakes and have very nice aquatic gardens in pots. Distance from other nurseries: km 29,5 from Vivai Pennone – km 50,5 from Val Mundoni – km 58,5 from Fiorella Gilli – km 29 from Valleversa – km 51 from Manuflor – km 56 from I Giardini e le Fronde.
Vivai Pennone, a Cabanette (AL): create in 1987 and family-run, they produce on more than 6 hectares ornamental plants, ever greens, bearer plants, high trunk trees, shrubs, rose bushes, hedges of various dimensions and flowering perennials. Distance from other nurseries: km 21,5 from Manuflor – km 74,5 from Val Mundoni – km 76 from Fiorella Gilli – km 47 from Valleversa – km 29,5 from Eta Beta – km 35 from I Giardini e Le Fronde.
Azienda agricola Manuflor, a Cassine (AL): established in 2010 by Emanuela Resecco, it is specialised in collections of shrubs fit for freezing cold, wisterias (21 cultivars), particular varieties of magnolias, roses created by the most important international hybridisers and the extremely scented ‘Rosa Bruna’, the most used in Liguria to prepare syrups, cakes and cosmetic products. Distance from other nurseries: km 43,5 from I Giardini e le Fronde – km 88 from Val Mundoni – km 90 from Fiorella Gilli – km 54,5 from Valleversa – km 51 from Eta Beta – km 21,5 from Vivai Pennone.
I Giardini e le Fronde, a Serravalle Scrivia (AL): this very pleasant nursery was opened by Lucia Mazzerello and Stefano Rhue, who live there with their two children a dog and several cats; it produces, in a beautiful rural context, shrubs and small trees in pots, in particular hortensias, flowering apple trees, Cornelian cherries and willows with a colourful cortex, perennial herbaceous plants and unusual annuals, forgotten vegetables. Plants are free to grow, with few prunings, natural fertilisers and very few phytosanitary treatments, in order to achieve a completely organic cultivation. The nursery also offers screens, structures, gazebos, cones and other shapes made out of woven willow or hazelnut wood from their production; panels in heather produced in the North of France; poetic fences in chestnut poles naturally broken, following the veining of the wood (a characteristic that guarantees its long lasting). At Christmas time, they sell (also online) very nice wreaths, crowns and other outdoor decorations, created with branches, fruits, berries, dry flowers, pine cones, collected in the garden or in the countryside and produced in their second nursery, in Casaleggio Boiro (Monferrato), or recovered from prunings or fellings. During the year, they offer gardening classes and, in December, free demonstrations of weaving with Christmas themes Distance from other nurseries: km 96 from Val Mundoni – km 100 from Fiorella Gilli – km 74 from Valleversa – km 56 from Eta Beta – km 35 from Vivai Pennone – km 43,5 from Manuflor.
From here you can choose three different itineraries:
Wandering nurserie: Cuneo, la “provincia Granda” (Piemonte 6), reaching the nursery Il Bolfone, 58 km away.
Wandering nurseries: South of Turin, reaching Vivaio Giani, 10,5 km away.
Wandering nurseries: the Flower Riviera, from Imperia to Pietra Ligure, reaching Il Giardino degli Ellebori, a Pietra Ligure (SV).
Gardens, castles, wine cellars, oasis, naturalistic reserves along the way
There are many places of botanical, artistic and wine interest where you can stop along this itinerary. We suggest some of them, but you can find many other here: luoghi.italianbotanicaltrips.com/piemonte/asti-at/e luoghi.italianbotanicaltrips.com/piemonte/alessandria-al/
Roseto della Sorpresa, frazione Serra Perno, Castell’Alfero (AT): in this village on a hill at the beginning of Valley Versa (where Giovan Battista De Rolandis – creator of the tricolour of the Italian flag – was born) there is a charming wooded garden and rose garden, with a collection of 500 botanical and ancient roses, created by Professor Piero Amerio over 30 years. It is listed in the official list of the historical gardens of Piedmont and has the patronage of the Region, of the Province of Asti, of the Municiplaity of Castell’Alfero and has a scientific collaboration with the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Turin. In Catell’Alfero you must also visit the 18th Century Castello dei Conti Amico, now hosting the city hall and the Museum ‘L Ciar, collecting objects, equipment and toys of the 19th and 20th Century. Chiesa SS Pietro e Paolo, the Romanic church Madonna della Neve (with 15th Century frescoes) are also interesting. In the hamlet of Callianetto you can visit Ciabot ‘d Gianduja, birthplace of the homonymous character symbolising Piedmont.
Villa Ottolenghi, ad Aqui Terme (AL): originally it was owned by the Counts Arturo and Herta Ottolenghi; it was renovated by Vittorio Invernizzi, after 30 years of abandonment. It is surrounded by a huge park design by Pietro Porcinai that won the first prize of the European Garden Award in 2011. One of the most interesting things is the Pool, with a work of art by Arturo Martini, the Wisteria Pergola and the Formal Garden on the front of the villa.
Where to stay
B&B Azienda agricola Fiorella Gilli, a Villanova d’Asti (AT):annexed to the nursery of the same name, it is surrounded by a beautiful rural garden. It offers peace and quiet.