Luigi Veronelli used to say “you have to walk the earth”. Walk to learn, to live in perpetual movement and for the joy of progressing step by step.
So that’s exactly what we did a few weeks ago, with my kids Clara, 8, and Giovanni, 7, in the village of Murazzano: 749 metres above sea level, woods, animals and an impressive medieval tower which rises 33 metres above the houses. The village is known as the “shield and key of Piedmont” due to its strategic position, and is part of the Strada Romantica of the Langhe and Roero.
Have you ever been to Alta Langa?
I’m in love with it. I love that wild feeling that the part of the Langhe where Barolo grows has lost. If I close my eyes, I feel as though I’m breathing in the sea air. This is where my I’m going to plant my new Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards, to make my Alta Langa docg.
Together with Clara and Giovanni, we walked and learned about the history of Murazzano, as though it were a fairy tale.
The village was once devoted almost exclusively to goat herding and is home to a much-loved DOP cheese named Murazzano after the village. Half way between a robiola and a toma, it’s made in small quantities using Langhe goat’s milk. It is also a Slow food presidio.
There is a legend about this cheese and I told it to the children, who like stories that are a little bit scary.
A young boy from Murazzano, called Giovannino, had been given the job of watching over some Murazzano cheeses but he became distracted and a big black crow swooped down and stole some of them. Frightened that his mother would be angry with him, Giovannino followed the crow as fare as Ceva, known as a meeting place for witches and devils. Giovannino was tired and hungry, so he decided to rest in a hut. When he entered the hut, he found a surprise: a table laden with all kinds of delicious things to eat. So the boy ate! All of a sudden the devil appeared and accused him of stealing his lunch. He ordered Giovannino to follow him to hell. The crafty young boy asked the devil to grant him a last wish: to drink some cool water from the well. Upon reaching the well, the devil leaned over it to see whether there was any water and Giovannino pushed him in. He promised to help the devil out but only if he returned the stolen Murazzano cheeses. The crow was actually the devil. And this goes to show how valuable this cheese was, so valuable that even the devil loved it (source: DOC cheeses of Italy, pp. 71-72).
Murazzano is a village known for its food and wine too.
Cafe Gianduja does excellent aperitifs (tel. +39 0173 798013): they have a list of very important and well-selected wines, including some very rare native grapes. If you want to have lunch or dinner in Murazzano, I can highly recommend Trattoria da Lele (tel. +39 0173 798016), a welcoming restaurant with a family atmosphere and a strictly Piedmontese menu. A great place to eat!
I’m going to close with some words from Veronelli: “Those who walk the earth know that the important thing is not to arrive, but to progress, step by step. Walking the earth is about expressing our lives in constant movement. Sometimes you have to stop to rest or think and to rejoice or cry, and then start walking again. Stop also to remember and relive the road you have travelled”.