Itineraries18 July 2019

Piedmont like Provence

You have always wanted to dive into the intense color and inebriating scent of a lavender field, but you have not yet had the opportunity to visit French Provence, famous throughout the world for its fantastic purple expanses of its fields?

Credit Pixabay

Credit Pixabay

Demonte and the paths of lavender ...

In the Valle Stura, and more precisely in Demonte, a small town of 2,000 inhabitants in the province of Cuneo, many fields of "isòp", as is called lavender in Occitan, have always flourished. Until the first half of the twentieth century, the lavender fields in the valley were many and constituted a very important resource for the local economy. Even today, the ancient Rocchia distillery is located in Demonte, where in the nineteenth century special distillation processes were used that exploited direct steam injection to obtain the essential oil from lavender. This procedure was used to keep the organoleptic qualities of the oil intact.

[Demonte, credit Twice25]

Today the purple fields have diminished, but continue to flourish each year and offer a unique spectacle like those that only Mother Nature can create. If you want to admire this the best point is on State Road 21 between Borgo San Dalmazzo and Colle della Maddalena and then of course there are the fields cultivated by the distillery for the production of essences.

[Andonno, credit Pampuco]

Also in the province of Cuneo, between the Maritime Alps and the Val di Gesso is Andonno, a fraction of the municipality of Valdieri where a special event is held in honor of lavender (the Lavender Festival) at the beginning of August with suggestive representations of the harvest and of the distillation process and with enchanting food and wine walks on the lavender paths. Obviously the period to admire the lavender bloom varies from year to year depending on the weather conditions. However, flowering tends towards the end of spring (mid-June to early July).

If you are looking for some places to visit in Piedmont during spring / summer weekends, head to Valle Stura to discover its churches, historic buildings, traditions and splendid views painted in purple.

[Sale San Giovanni, credit Marco Plassio]

Sale San Giovanni immersed in the lavender fields

The silvery green tufts of the hills of Sale San Giovanni, a small village of the Bassa Langa in the province of Cuneo, are transformed into many colorful bouquets of "bluette", indigo, deep violet and pink. A spectacle of nature that is never the same, that changes from hour to hour thanks to the light of the sun that is reflected on the hills where the lavender bushes, moved by the wind, look like violet / blue waves of a beautiful sea.

The small town of Sale San Giovanni (about 180 inhabitants) has managed to reinvent itself and save itself thanks to lavender and aromatic herbs, becoming a real excellence in the medicinal and herbal sector. The hills of this small Piedmontese village are not in fact covered only with lavender. Here hyssop, chamomile, achillea, sage, coriander, fennel flourish as far as the eye can see, creating a kaleidoscope of beautiful colors (sugar paper blue, sage green, ecru, violet, pink). A colorful show that Mother Nature has created and that in Sale San Giovanni have enclosed in a single territory and that can be admired by everyone.

Here, in fact, for over twenty years, "Non solo Erbe" has taken place, an important regional event dedicated to medicinal plants. During the event, guided tours are organized to the crops that allow an immersion in the wonderful colors of a unrivaled landscape: in the background the crown of the Alps and in front of an expanse of meadows cultivated with the aromas of the French Midi. To enrich this important event there are exhibitions, concerts, street artists, cultural visits to monuments, conferences and then, of course, many stands around the streets of the village with medicinal and aromatic plants, herbal products, agricultural products, cosmetics, perfumes and much else. For more information you can consult the website of the Municipality of Sale San Giovanni or you can contact the "Information Point" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, by calling 371.3878678.

Judit Neuberger

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