Explore the Breathtaking Village Near Alba
Are you visiting Alba and looking to explore its surroundings? Read on to discover what to see in Diano d’Alba, a village with breathtaking panoramic views!
The Langhe region is renowned worldwide for its landscapes, exceptional products such as wine and truffles, and charming villages. Diano d’Alba, perched at an altitude of 500 meters, is one of the key vantage points in the Langhe
The History of the Village
Diano d’Alba, located just a few kilometers from Alba, has a rich history intertwined with its more famous neighbor. Back when Alba was one of the most significant Roman cities in the region, the hill of Diano was covered by a sacred forest dedicated to the goddess Diana. This is evident not only in the village’s name but also from various historical sources.
One even claims that an inscription dedicated to the goddess could be seen until the 1800s, situated fifty meters from the village entrance, where there’s now a chapel dedicated to Santa Lucia.
Diano’s significance grew substantially during the Middle Ages. Fearing invasions from Germanic tribes and Saracens, many people left the plains and sought refuge on the more defensible hills. With the construction of its castle, Diano evolved into a military power in the region, even surpassing Alba in importance. In fact, the Bishop of Alba made it the capital of a dominion that extended from Alba to Garessio between the 11th and 12th centuries.
Over the centuries, it was coveted by various powers of the time, first conquered by the Visconti of Milan in the 14th century, later under the Gonzaga, Dukes of Monferrato, and finally ceded to the Savoys after the peace of Cherasco in 1631. The Savoys had the castle demolished as punishment for the inhabitants who resisted their rule, significantly reducing the village’s military importance. However, without the threat of enemies, Diano d’Alba flourished agriculturally, contributing to the present success of the Langhe.
Now that you know a bit about the village’s history, let’s explore what to see in Diano d’Alba.
What to See in Diano d’Alba: San Giovanni Battista Church
The most important landmark in Diano d’Alba is the San Giovanni Battista Church. Its imposing presence stands out among all the other buildings in the village, and its steeple is easily recognizable from kilometers away. Built in the 18th century, it draws inspiration from the Piedmont Baroque style popular in the Savoy Kingdom. The church’s facade features a grand portico leading to the entrance and a tall bell tower. Despite being added later, the bell tower harmonizes perfectly with the church’s style
Inside, the church, although quite large, has a single nave adorned with golden friezes and capitals. The walls are embellished with frescoes depicting scenes from the gospel by the Turin painter Rodolfo Morgari, who had close ties to the House of Savoy. The artistic significance of the church doesn’t stop there; it also houses other noteworthy works, including Antonio Tempesta’s Exhibition of the Shroud, a gift from the House of Savoy, Carlo Francesco Beaumont’s Baptism of Jesus, and six paintings by Giovanni Claret.
What to See in Diano d’Alba: Palazzo Ruffino
Not far from the San Giovanni Battista Church stands Palazzo Ruffino. This palace was first built in the 17th century but was entirely reconstructed by the noble Ruffino family in 1730 to serve as their prestigious residence. In the early 19th century, the town of Diano acquired the palace and made it the town hall, with its offices and council chamber.
To best admire it from the outside, we recommend looking from the wall behind the church, which offers a view of the side facing Alta Langa. The main entrance, which is not elaborately designed and opens onto a narrow alley, is less interesting. From the outside, you can already notice a refined palace in the Piedmontese Baroque style that truly stands out.
The interior consists of finely decorated rooms, with the Council Chamber being a standout. Here, you’ll find beautiful friezes, antique furniture, and, most importantly, precious Napoleon-era maps. If you have the opportunity, it’s worth a visit; it’s truly beautiful.
What to See in Diano d’Alba: The Belvedere
When we decided to visit Diano d’Alba, the primary reason was to ascend its Belvedere and admire the splendid panorama. From up there, you can truly see the entire Langhe region in 360 degrees:
- To the southeast, you can see the hills of Alta Langa, where Bossolasco stands out.
- To the west, you can recognize the silhouettes of the Barolo Langhe villages (Serralunga d’Alba, Monforte d’Alba, Barolo, La Morra, etc.).
- To the north, Alba, the Tanaro Valley, and Roero are visible.
- To the east, you can see the Moscato Langhe (Santo Stefano Belbo, Canelli, etc.) and Barbaresco Langhe (Neive, Barbaresco, Treiso).
You should also know that where the Belvedere now stands, there used to be the Castle, which, as we mentioned earlier, was demolished in 1631 by order of Vittorio Amedeo I of Savoy. Only a few recently restored remnants remain, but they vividly illustrate why it was so highly coveted
What to See in Diano d’Alba: The Dolcetto Big Bench
Speaking of viewpoints, another interesting one is where the Big Bench No. 65, in ruby red Dolcetto d’Alba, is located. This bench is nestled among the vineyards of the Fratelli Almasso Agricultural Company and offers a beautiful view of the Langhe. You can easily reach the bench by car in just over five minutes, following Provincial Road 32 towards Montelupo Albese until you reach the Fratelli Almasso Company, then taking a short walk through the vineyards.
If weather conditions permit (as it can be exhausting under the summer sun), you can also reach it on foot from the center of Diano d’Alba. It’s a 2.6-kilometer walk that takes 30-40 minutes. The effort will certainly enhance your appreciation of the fantastic panorama from up there.
The Municipal Enoteca I Sörì di Diano
At the foot of Belvedere Hill and a short walk from the San Giovanni Battista Church, you’ll find the Municipal Enoteca I Sörì di Diano.
While there are numerous high-quality local restaurants and eateries in the area, this place not only offers fine products but also explains the history behind them. Each label of Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba has unique characteristics derived from the various “sörì” where the vineyards are cultivated. In the local dialect, “sörì” means “sunny,” referring to the plots of land with varying sun exposure and, consequently, different microclimates that impart special flavor nuances to the wine. Diano boasts 76 recognized “sörì,” all indicated on the label of each bottle.
In the enoteca, you can sample various types of Dolcetto, accompanied by other local gourmet products, all guided by knowledgeable staff. After the tasting, it will be hard to resist purchasing a bottle of this excellent wine.
Now that you know what to do and see in Diano d’Alba, it’s time to hop in your car and pay a visit!