The underground cathedrals are the historic wine cellars at Canelli, about 19 km from the Agriturismo. They were dug into the tufa rock in past centuries, reaching up to 32 metres underground, and run for more than 20 kilometres underneath the entire town and the surrounding hills.
They are known as cathedrals because they create striking, surreal chambers and are real masterpieces of engineering and wine-making architecture. In them, thousands of bottles of fine wine are left to ferment at the constant temperature of 12-14 degrees, acquiring the typical flavour and bouquet of Asti spumante and Canelli wine, in chambers with brick vault ceilings that date back to the early 19C.
They were recently added to the list of UNESCO Heritage Sites, as unique and not found anywhere else in the world, as part of the 50th site, the Wine-Growing Landscapes of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato.
Many of the cathedrals are open to the public, starting with the Bosca and Gancia wineries, which created Italy's first sparkling wine in 1865, as well as the Coppo Contratto wineries.
The wine-growing heritage consists not only of the cellars but also of the area's enchanting grape-producing landscapes, its pristine valleys, its vineyards in bloom, its historic wells, its look-out towers, its lovely little churches and many other rural legacy features.
CONTACTS FOR VISITS
Cantine Bosca - Via G. B. Giuliani, 23 - tel. +39 335 7996811
Cantine Contratto srl - Via G. B. Giuliani, 56 - tel. +39 0141 823349
Cantine Coppo - Via Alba, 68 - tel. +39 0141 823146
Cantine Gancia - Corso Libertà, 66 - tel. +39 0141 8301
Enoteca Regionale di Canelli e dell'Astesana - Via G. B. Giuliani, 29 - tel. +39 0141 822640