• Bike: trekking
  • Difficulty: ***
  • Distance: 40 km
  • Altitude difference: 225 m
  • Total ascent: 580 m
  • Total descent: 580 m

A 40 km loop through the hills of Alto Monferrato and the foothills of the Apennines, up and down minor roads running through vineyards and woods, past churches and castles, with panoramic views of a constantly changing landscape. Set off from Ovada, heading for the motorway. Start the climb to Belforte near the toll booth, at the roundabout. Pass through the village and carry on towards Tagliolo, which can be seen in the distance on the left. Before you reach it, turn right at the junction towards San Pietro. Go through the hamlet and down towards Gambina, coming back to the Tagliolo road on the left. Carry on down to the junction and turn right, heading for Lerma and Mornese. Immediately after the hamlet of Mascatagliata, you'll reach the bridge over the Piota. Continue for a few hundred metres and turn right immediately after the right-hand bend, just before the road becomes steep, onto a road that heads gently downwards. This is the start of a very scenic stretch, through a classic Apennine landscape of oak and pine woods. After a gentle 4 km climb is Casaleggio Boiro, where you'll pass below the famous castle. Continue on the provincial road from Lerma, but turn left immediately outside the village and after the cemetery, towards the Buffoni-Cascinotto area. The road turns into a track after just over 1 km. After a short gravel climb, the track carries on to the ridge, presenting captivating open views of the landscape. You can see the dome of the astronomical observatory in Lerma on your left, as well as the ruins of what is said to be an ancient abbey. Then you have the villages on the crests of the hills, Silvano d'Orba, Montaldeo and Parodi Ligure. Continue along the track for 2 km and come out onto tarmacked road at a crossroads. Ahead of you is the climb to Cascina Bellaria and Silvano. The road to Lerma is on your left. Go right and head down to Castelletto d'Orba, on the Albarola river among Dolcetto vineyards. In the village, you'll find the San Rocco, Santa Limbana and Cannon fountains, which are certainly worth stopping at to get some of your energy back. Heading off from the roundabout, climb gently to the church of the Assunta, where you turn left onto Strada per Gallaretta, heading for Silvano d'Orba. When you get to the Ovada–Novi provincial road, turn left immediately along the main road through Silvano. In the centre of the village, take the first right straight after the town hall on Strada Roccagrimalda, heading for the bridge over the Orba.
Go over it, then over the motorway overpass, and come out onto the SP 185 from Predosa to Ovada. Turn left and leave it some metres afterwards, heading for Roccagrimalda. You'll reach this at the end of a continuous but not demanding climb of about 3 km. Leave the village in the direction of the cemetery and take the road to Carpeneto. After about 3 km, turn off left onto a scenic road in the direction of the village of Villa Botteri. Having crossed the area, climb slightly to a major crossroads about 1 km further on. Turn left, towards Cremolino, but head down and left at the next crossing (after 300 m) towards the shrine of Nostra Signora della Guardia. Then comes Grillano and a steep drop to Ovada, which you'll enter by the Geirino sports centre. After the bridge over the Orba, keep right and return to the railway station. The route is 40 km in total.