A Walk in Nizza

Exploring history, food, and culture between the Belbo river and the vineyard hills of Monferrato

A Walk in Nizza: Deep mapping the Belbo Valley


The blog is live, and I feel I should do an inauguration post.

priryerthIn the early ’90 I read abook by American author William Least Heat Moon, whose Blue Highways, a Journey into America I had loved as a first-year university student.
The new book was called PrairyErth (A Deep Map) and it was something really different.
If the early book was an exploration of America along secondary roads and off-beat tracks, PrairyErth was an exploration of a very small, limited portion of the territory – but it was an in depth exploration.
Using a set of survey maps, William Least Heath Moon explored every inch of a corner of Kansas called Flint Hills, looking at every detail of the landscape, of the ecology, of the history and society.
That was the idea behind the deep map in the title: that you can take a not-particularly-exciting, everyday place and by looking close enough discover it’s actually interesting, exciting, unique.

The expression deep map I later discovered, caught on, and is currently used to describe an integrated approach to the study of geography and social history – how landscape and inhabitants interact and shape each other.
In this sense, the idea itself connects with another interesting concept – the concept of terroir, intended as the system formed by the landscape and the human activities in wine countries.
A certain wine comes from a certain terroir – a stretch of land with a certain topography, a certain geology and meteorology, in which people worked the earth in a certain particular way, with traditions and shared practices.

Studying the terroir of a certain wine (something I actually did, as a geologist) is to deep map the vineyards and the surrounding countryside.

Now, doing a deep mapping project that in the lower Belbo valley and the Nizza Monferrato territory would be beyond our powers. But I talked this out with my brother Alex and that’s the direction we’d like to go – as stationary travellers in these hills, we will collect details, facts, stories, impressions, photographs, recipes.
And we’ll share these bits and pieces with you out there – we’ll tell you about the place we live.

We are stationary travelers, this is our travel blog.
Our deep map of Nizza Monferrato and the surrounding hills, the course of the Belbo River, the stretch of land between the Appennines and the Po Valley, between the provinces of Asti and Alessandria.
It’s going to be fun.



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