Ice cold water running impetuous on the gravel bed: the Po River in its alpine stretch is not different from many other mountain streams: a silver stream running from village to village, between Pian del Re and Saluzzo. From Ostana you have a perfect view of the “King of Stone”, the Mount Monviso, where the river rises. From there you can follow the stream past its last obstacle, the Mount Bracco and down to the valley, where the cool alpine waters slow down, flowing through the fields. In the spring, you should not miss the amazing view of the apple and peach trees in bloom. Then the river reaches the first town, Saluzzo, the ancient capital of the Marquisate of Saluzzo. The river keeps running past the town, but visitors should stop in Saluzzo to take a look at its medieval centre, with the beautiful Gothic residences of the Marquis, in particular the Castle of Manta, splendid example of local court life.
The Po River starts to swell, fed by the waters of its first tributaries. It widens in its gravel bed, then it disappears, swallowed by the permeable alluvial soil,only to reappear again with its crystal clear waters. A network of canals, called balere, brings water to the surrounding fields. The products of the land are all generated by the river and thanks to the natural environment wildlife thrives along the its banks. If you look at the sky you are likely to see a flock of storks flying by near the first meandres of the river, not far from Carmagnola. If you take the time to explore this area you will have many surprises: the Castle of Racconigi, the first of many historic residences of the Royal House of Savoy scattered around the area of Turin, the capital city, which create a “crown of royal dwellings”, mainly holiday residences, now open to the public. You can make the tour by bicycle thanks to many cycling paths and low-traffic roads. Following the Po River, you will find the Castle of Moncalieri, but you should also visit the Palace of Venaria Reale and the hunting residence of Stupinigi.
Then the river makes its grand entrance into the city of Turin, flowing placidly under its bridges and between its banks and the embankments of the landing places, called murazzi. Its still waters reflect the Castle of Valentino and its beautiful park. You should take the time to visit this first big city through which the Po flows. It is a majestic city, rich in attractions: museums, theatres and historic cafès.
Beyond Turin,the river meets one of its most important tributaries, the Dora Baltea, that feeds the Po River with its waters flowing from the Mont Blanc and the peaks of the Western Alps. Here the river flows free from embankments, through thick riparian woods. To take a look you can climb on any bridge of the area, in Crescentino, or in Trino. Then you can climb the first hills of the Montferrat, rising on the sides of the river. From the vantage point of the Castle of Verrua Savoia or Camino you can enjoy the beautiful view of the flooded rice fields in the spring.
Take one of the many cycling paths of the area and cycle among the medieval farmhouses and Benedictine Abbeys dotting the countryside. Here rises the Monte Rosa, where the River Sesia has its source. Where the Sesia meets the Po River you will find a natural environment of wild beauty. You then encouter the first banks near Casal Monferrato, where a visit is highly recommended to become familiar with the history of this ancient Marquisate. You can climb the rolling hills covered in vineyards and dotted with world famous wineries and have a taste of the unique cuisine of this area of Piedmont. Here is where the Po turns into the Great River, widening in the vastness of the plain.