A brief introduction to the beautiful “village of roses” in Alta Langa
Are you in the Langhe region and looking to explore its wild and tranquil side? Discover what to see in Bossolasco, the village of roses in Alta Langa!
Bossolasco is a charming village perched on the high peaks of the Alta Langa hills, sitting at an altitude of about 800 meters. The Alta Langa is a region of the Langhe that stretches beyond 500 meters above sea level between the Belbo and Bormida valleys, known for its breathtaking landscapes. Here, amid dense forests and steep valleys, you’ll find a more mountainous flavor than the typical vine-covered hills. The unique landscape has made Bossolasco a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat.
The village’s origins are lost in the annals of history, with some speculating that a settlement existed in Roman times under the name Buxale ad Belbum (a place covered with beech trees near the Belbo river). It later evolved into Buzzolasco during the medieval period when it first appeared in an official document in 1077. During this period, it was part of the possessions of the Del Vasto family, descendants of Aleramo of Monferrato.
Later on, through dynastic connections, Bossolasco came under the rule of the Marquises of Carretto, who expanded its importance both commercially and strategically. In the 14th century, a large castle and imposing city walls were built, and a century later, Bossolasco was elevated to the status of a marquisate. Despite its small size, the marquisate included many of the surrounding villages.
In 1735, the Imperial Fief of Bossolasco was finally assigned to Duke Carlo Emanuele III of Savoy, uniting the fate of Bossolasco with the House of Savoy until the Second World War.
After the events of September 8, 1943, Bossolasco and the Alta Langa were controlled by partisan formations resisting Nazi occupation. During this period, a group of persecuted Jews also found refuge in Bossolasco, escaping deportation.
Post-World War II and into the 1970s, Bossolasco began to emerge as a holiday destination. The first to recognize its tourism potential were some Turin-based painters, including Francesco Menzio and Enrico Paolucci. Over the years, other artists joined them, seeking tranquility and artistic inspiration that the metropolis couldn’t provide.
Now that you have a glimpse of the village’s history, let’s explore what to see in Bossolasco.
What to See in Bossolasco: The Church of San Giovanni
The first attraction that comes to mind in Bossolasco is undoubtedly the Church of San Giovanni. Located at the highest point in the village, its towering bell tower is a prominent landmark. This bell tower is the only part of the original medieval church, as the parish was rebuilt and expanded over the centuries. The last major modification occurred in 1927, where it was reconstructed in the late Gothic-Lombard style it had always had. Notably, only stones from the Belbo River’s bed were used for the construction, and the bell tower was raised by a few meters during this reconstruction.
Today, the church boasts a double-gabled façade with a preceding portico. Here, you can spot ancient stones from previous churches
The interior is quite captivating, with three naves covered by ribbed vaults richly adorned. Notable frescoes painted by Ovidio Fonti imitating the typical 15th-century painting style can be seen in the apse and presbytery.
This choice was likely made to maintain the architectural style of late Lombard Gothic.
What to See in Bossolasco: The Angel of Alta Langa
Just a few meters from the Church of San Giovanni, you’ll find one of Bossolasco’s most iconic symbols: the Angel of Alta Langa. This impressive statue was created by contemporary artist Daniele Cazzato in 2015, inspired by a story about the village’s residents. During World War II, a group of Jews fleeing Nazi persecution found refuge in Bossolasco. The artist wanted to depict the Bossolasco community as an angel, with one wing enveloping the persecuted people and the other outstretched to protect them from external threats.
This sculpture serves as a reminder that it’s possible to stand against all forms of oppression and persecution, just as the Bossolasco community did.
What to See in Bossolasco: Other Interesting Places in the Historic Center
Bossolasco’s historic center stretches along the ridge of a hill, with well-maintained stone houses. The main street, Via Umberto I, is adorned with a variety of roses, earning the village its nickname, the “Village of Roses.” In the spring months, along with the blooming balconies, this makes Bossolasco one of the most beautiful villages in the area. The passion for roses in Bossolasco extends beyond the village center. Along the Viale della Rimembranza, at the outskirts of the historic center, the Park of Rare and Antique Roses has been created. This tree-lined avenue is home to unique rose varieties that captivate with their colors and fragrances, making it a delightful stroll for visitors.
The Historic Palaces and Signs
Besides the enchanting rose atmosphere, the historic center also boasts other unique features that narrate its ancient history. The Palazzo Balestrino of the Marquises of Carretto, also known as the “Palazzone” due to its imposing size, was built in the 17th century as the residence of the marquises, replacing the old castle that had fallen into disrepair due to numerous wars. Thanks to its spacious rooms, it served various purposes over the years, including as a courthouse, a prison, a school, and an orphanage.
The nearby Town Hall, on the other hand, has a more peculiar history. It was converted from a former deconsecrated church that the residents of Bossolasco had built during the 1630 plague as a vow to the Madonna. Inside the Town Hall’s Council Chamber, you’ll find historic signs painted by artists who resided there in the post-war period. The artists wanted to express their affection and appreciation for the village that had welcomed them, creating signs for the shops in Bossolasco. These signs have become precious, so they’ve been protected from the weather. To ensure they remain visible to visitors, the municipality has created faithful copies displayed along the main street’s wall.
Another piece of the village’s history is the Pilone di San Francesco, a votive stele dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. The pillar is adorned with scenes from the life of the saint and his miracles, erected in memory of Francis’s passage through the region. He had arrived in the Langhe to preach his message of peace during a period marked by conflicts between the communes of Asti and Alba
What to See in Bossolasco: Nature Trails
As mentioned earlier, Bossolasco is a destination suited for those seeking days immersed in nature, away from the city’s chaos. Several ring-shaped nature trails have been marked, allowing visitors to discover the most interesting and scenic areas around the village. Here are the trails based on their starting locations:
- From Circonvallazione Bauzano, the White Hawthorn Trail and Orchid Trail begin. The former allows a walk along the ancient Roman road connecting the Belbo Valley to Bossolasco. The latter, a longer trail, ventures through a highly picturesque forest to reach caves where partisans hid and the Torretta del Casino.
- Starting from Fontana Azzurra, you’ll find the Dog Rose Trail, along which you can admire many natural springs and reach the Chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
- Colle della Resistenza is the starting point for the Red Poppy Trail, known for its wild orchids and broom bushes. From here, the Primrose Trail also begins, offering a shorter route with similar characteristics.
- Finally, Bicocca’s location marks the start of the Broom Trail and Periwinkle Trail. The former takes you along the Bicocca ridge, through woods and fields, providing splendid views. From here, you can admire the Belbo Valley and the Alps in the background. The latter immerses you in the most pristine areas of the Bossolasco territory. Among these is the Green Lake, a tranquil pond fed by the Belbo River’s waters. On its shores, you can enjoy a picnic in absolute relaxation.
For further information, you can visit the Bossolasco Tourist Website’s page dedicated to Nature Trails.
Now that you’re acquainted with all that Bossolasco has to offer, it’s time to pay a visit and share your thoughts with us!