Have you ever heard of giant benches? Let’s discover where to find your favourite big bench in the Langhe, Italy!
If you think you are inside a video game, I can assure you that this is not the case. The giant benches of the Langhe really do exist and if you have never heard of them… this is your chance to get to know them!
These coloured benches are part of the wine-growing landscape of lower Piedmont. Not only do they add colour to the Langhe, but also to the Roero and Monferrato areas, a trio of UNESCO World Heritage panoramas.
Their origin is rather curious, creative and in a certain sense fairytale-like. A creativity that has allowed the creation of giant coloured benches, which are now top tourist attractions in the Alta Langa for many travellers. The accentuated height of almost two and a half metres and the myriad of colours make these giant benches Instagrammable, ready to be shown off on social media with a snapshot.
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Not only giant benches in the Langhe…
The Langhe landscape, together with the Roero and Monferrato areas, can be viewed as a real painting. This landscape is outlined by gentle rolling hills, surrounded by medieval villages and covered with vineyards and fields.
So not just giant benches: Piedmont is much more! Colours in nature are at their most splendid and their combination evokes the scents and delicacies of the south of the region. After all, it is from here that the protagonists of Piedmont food and wine originate. Truffle, considered the “diamond of the Langhe”, Barolo and Barbaresco DOCG wines, Tonda Gentile delle Langhe hazelnuts. These are just some of the delicacies that characterise Piedmont cuisine. Delicacies that can be experienced and enjoyed through a complete tour of the Langhe.
In this way, you can try out not only the flavours of this amazing land, but you can also have the chance to visit Piedmont’s famous giant benches. It’s like killing two birds with one stone!
Back to childhood: the origin of the giant benches
The phenomenon of the giant benches in Piedmont was born in 2010, when the American designer Chris Bangle created the first giant red bench in Clavesana, in the province of Cuneo.
The idea was to find a way to become a child again and admire the beauty of Langhe landscape. The magic of childhood is characterised by a mix of innocence, light-heartedness and purity. These values make it possible to escape from the “adult routine” with a simple look of wonder, capable of perceiving the magnificence of simplicity.
This was Bangle’s intention, and he achieved it by making colourful benches of non-standard size to represent the desire to escape from monotony.
The project was so successful that it led to the founding of the Big Bench Community Project. The BBCP is a non-profit initiative that aims to provide support to the local area, but above all to tourism and the economy of local communities.
To date, 128 giant benches have been built! You can find them on the Big Bench Community Project website by using the “Search” function of Google Maps, provided on their website. All benches are registered on the map. Specifically, it is possible to identify single-colour benches, two-colour benches, benches under construction and “benches for all”, made for those with particular disabilities.
Of these 128, most are located in Piedmont, precisely 91!
The main giant benches in the Langhe are located at:
- Monforte d’Alba
- Diano d’Alba
- Vezza d’Alba – currently under maintenance
- La Morra
Each of these towns has one or more brightly coloured benches. Let’s discover them together, starting from Monforte d’Alba!
The giant benches of Monforte d’Alba & Diano d’Alba
Monforte d’Alba is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. We are precisely in the Langa del Barolo, in the province of Cuneo. The “first bench” of Monforte is the giant pink bench, now located in the Cascina Castelletto area. On the contrary, exactly in the centre of the village, there is the purple coloured bench n° 12, visible from the main square of this historic town.
We continue our itinerary towards Diano d’Alba, a town known for the production of Dolcetto DOCG. The town is home to the coloured bench No. 65, the so-called ” Dolcetto bench”. This name derives from the desire to pay homage to the famous wine produced in the area. For this reason, the coloured bench is characterised by a ruby red colour, which recalls the intense colour of this wine and the nuances of the raw material.
Now that you know everything about bench No. 65, find out also what to see in Diano d’Alba!
Near the river Tanaro: the benches of Alba, Vezza d’Alba and Neive
Near the banks of the Tanaro river, we arrive at Scaparone, a hamlet in the municipality of Alba. Here we encounter one of the most beautiful benches in terms of symbolic value. It is the coloured bench No. 14, dedicated to the deaf community. This dedication is even more intense due to the use of turquoise, a symbol of silence and calm. The bench is extremely symbolic thanks to the depiction of two hands on the back, as an emblem of sign language.
Further north in the region we find the municipality of Vezza d’Alba. Here we find the giant white bench No. 4, which can be reached via the Sentiero del Torion. The path winds along the plain of the river Borbore: from there, it is possible to admire the landscape and the castles overlooking the Tanaro river. The path ends with the arrival at the Torion, a hexagonal building built on the highest point of the “Castellero” hill in Vezza.
Next to it, we find the elegant white bench of Vezza d’Alba. The peculiarity of this coloured bench is the metal plaque on its back, containing a proverb in Piedmontese dialect.
To the east of the river is the municipality of Neive, also in the province of Cuneo. This municipality, whose historic centre retains a medieval layout, is home to the emerald green coloured bench No. 23. The bench is immersed in the vineyards, allowing a 360° panorama of the Langhe hills. To reach it, you must pass through Borgata Gavello.
The “triad” of Clavesana
Finally, we enter the heart of the Langhe, precisely in the area of Clavesana, where it all began.
We open the dances with the first ever coloured bench, number 1, with which Bangle started his big bench project. Called “Clavesana Borgata Gorrea”, it was the first giant bench in the Langhe. Situated near the house of its creator, from here it is possible to admire a very suggestive panorama, experiencing the same emotions that drove Bangle to start his project.
Our trip to Clavesana continues with the giant yellow bench, number 3. It is called “Clavesana Borgata Palazzetto” because it is located near the farmhouse “Il Palazzetto”. From the relaxing seat on this bench, it is possible to appreciate the view of a cultivated plot of land framed by symmetrically arranged trees.
Finally, we come to giant bench No. 4. This is the blue “Clavesana lo Sbaranzo” bench. The path to the big bench is a bit tortuous. This is because the bench is not visible from the road. It is therefore necessary to roll up one’s sleeves!
Although the view consists of simple, dense vegetation, trust me that it will be worth it! Along the stretch you will have the opportunity to admire the charm of the vineyards at the Gallo Ivan Aldo Winery, in the hamlet of Lo Sbaranzo.
The giant benches of Carrù and Farigliano
In the vicinity of Clavesana, we reach Carrù, a municipality situated at the beginning of the Langhe. The giant bench of Carrù is number 7 and is characterised by its golden colour. This colourful big bench, like the others, was made using private resources. However, its added value lies in the fact that it was the first coloured bench installed on public land. It is also the first big bench to be accompanied by four small coloured benches, creating a fun area for children.
Among all giant benches in the Langhe, the Carrù bench stands out for its colour. For example, the giant benches in Clavesana refer to the colours of bunches of grapes and nature. Carrù, on the other hand, chooses gold as a symbol of social aggregation and an urban centre of great commercial activity.
Next we pass through the small town of Farigliano. Here we find the giant bench No. 2 in purple, my favourite colour! Unlike many of the giant benches in the Langhe, the big bench in Farigliano is located in the middle of the countryside, outside the built-up areas. At this point, you are surrounded by vines. The experience becomes even more evocative if done in August, the period of ripening. In this month, the brilliant colours of the grapes decorate the landscape.
The giant benches of Dogliani and La Morra
Above Farigliano, we find Dogliani. This town, together with Diano d’Alba, is known for the production of Dolcetto wine; in this case, Dolcetto di Dogliani. Moreover, the village is known for its giant bench n° 13. Its peculiarity is its two-tone design: the back is copper blue and the base brick red. Its official colours are filled with meaning as they reflect some of the village’s best-known works. The brick red refers to the works of the architect Giovanni Battista Schellino. On the other hand, the copper blue is typical of the dome of the Church of Saints Quirico and Paolo, a work by the same artist.
We conclude our itinerary with La Morra. Before entering this beautiful village, along the road to the hamlet of Santa Maria, we find the giant bench of La Morra, bright red in colour. From there, you can admire a sensational panorama surrounded by greenery.
It must be said that this bench does not belong to the Big Bench Community Project, as certain requirements are necessary to be part of it. Nevertheless, it is important to mention it in honour of Piedmont.
Coloured giant benches are international!
These are just a few of the giant benches situated in Piedmont. Their colours and stories are interwoven throughout the rest of the region and beyond. We can discover and get to know these marvellous tourist attractions in other places in the province of Cuneo, such as Fossano and Saluzzo. There are also many coloured benches in the province of Asti and in the Monferrato area.
As mentioned above, Piedmont holds the “record” for the number of giant benches, with 91 of them! However, there are just as many in the rest of the Italian peninsula, for example in Lombardy, Aosta Valley, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Basilicata, Puglia and soon in other regions.
The giant benches of the Langhe are tourist attractions that have also spread abroad. At present, the only “foreign” bench actually registered is the coloured bench No. 56 in Arbroath, in the United Kingdom.
However, more colourful benches, which are currently under construction, will be encountered in the near future. Interesting places are Bieganow in south-western Poland, Hilvarenbeek in the Netherlands and Plasglasgwm in the UK.
Plan your trip to the Langhe, to find a big bench!
It has to be said that the Langhe’s giant benches are so spectacular that you should visit them at least once in your life! As there are so many, my advice is to plan your visit by comparing the map provided on the Big Bench Community Project website and to select the giant benches according to your itinerary, especially if you have little time available!
In addition, the project offers the possibility to make your experience even more inspiring. Through the Big Bench Community Project Passport, you can collect stamps from each bench, creating a truly personalised souvenir.
To help you while organising your trip, the tabUI app is available, as well as support from the tourist offices. This app, which can be downloaded for both iOS and Android, contains all useful information for tourists. With the geolocation tool, this app helps you locate the exact position of the benches!
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