Noble By Nature
Capanne Di Marcarolo Natural Park
In our search for what is means to be “noble,” we have seen nobility expressed as style and composure, as was the case with the Contessa di Castiglione or as a charitable soul in the case of Juliette Colbert, the Marquess of Barolo.
In this post however, we are delving into the meaning of nobility in nature: landscapes of breathtaking beauty. We chose to explore a nobly natural site near and dear to our hearts. Situated at the gateway to the Gavi territory, a prestigious wine area where Duchessa Lia Gavi DOCG comes from, is the Parco delle Capanne di Marcarolo.
Before exploring the Parco Natural delle Capanne di Marcarolo, it is wise to spare a few words for the Gavi territory. It is a hilly area that comprises 11 municipalities in Alessandria at the border with Liguria. It extends from Pasturana to Bosio with the city of Gavi at its centre. An area with a long vocation of winemaking, the territory used to be under the control of the Republic of Genoa who relied upon its natural resources: woods, streams, fields, and above all, Cortese vineyards, the grapes used for Gavi DOCG. The territory was an important hub on communication, and so is dotted with castles and fortified homes, but it remains deeply wild, an area of outstanding nature.
THE CAPANNE DI MARCAROLO
Gavi’s crown jewel is the Parco Naturale delle Capanne di Marcarolo, located on the border of Piedmont and Liguria. The park was founded in 1979 to protect the rich yet delicate ecosystem where the Alps and the Apennines meet. It is nestled between the Lemme, Polcevere and Stura valleys, and is one of the most extensive green areas in southern Piedmont. The park can be explored through an extensive trail network. A few gems in the crown that is the park include the Lavagnina lakes, artificial basins used to produce hydroelectricity. Hikers can take a dip in the lakes’ crystalline waters, or in any of the pristine streams that criss-cross the park. Alongside the verdant flora is a rich diversity of fauna: brown trout, rare freshwater crayfish, amphiabians, wild boar, fallow deer, roe deer, hedgehogs, hares and foxes. The park’s symbol is a Harrier Eagle, an endangered bird of prey, that can sometimes be sighted in the woods.
But the park’s brilliant in the crown is the light. On sunny days, the rays paint the park with brightly colored brushstrokes: the dark green of the undergrowth, the yellow of the sunny glades, the emerald of the streams, the ocher of the Apennine rocks. In the evenings, the sunsets glimmer off the lakes, spreading an aura of peace and warmth, as if everything were wrapped in flashes of gold and copper.
Once upon a time, gold was extracted from the park in the Lavagnin area. In the 19th-century, Lyon-based organization, la Societè Anonyme des Mine d’or du Gorzente, controlled all gold mining, with dozens of mines in the park. Once they were exhausted, the mines were submerged by the resevoirs.