Villar San Costanzo

History, legend and nature, a “place where you can grow”

Villar San Costanzo takes its name from the martyr of the Theban legion who, according to legend, was killed on Mount San Bernardo. A place of worship was built on the shrine of the Saint, and attracted the attention of the aristocratic Saluzzo family. Constanzo became one of the patron saints of their state. The architectural complex of the church of San Costanzo al Monte is today one of the most prestigious examples of Romanesque-Gothic architecture in Piedmont. Villar was the place chosen by the Benedictine monks to build a monastery between the 7th and 8th centuries; this place of culture was also the driving force of local agriculture. The parish church of San Pietro in Vincoli is what remains of the monastery, and preserves an 11th century crypt and the 15th century Cappella di San Giorgio.
The Parco Storico Didattico Cannetum is dedicated to this period of history. Villar San Costanzo is an excellent starting point for getting to know the Upper Maira Valley, as well as an area whose natural landscape offers extraordinary opportunities for exploration and leisure.

The Ciciu del Villar nature reserve allows visitors to discover its unique phenomena of erosion along signposted routes and a calendar of annual initiatives. Numerous trails and routes along quiet local roads are a great opportunity to explore the area. These include a circular itinerary route taking in the Maira Trail.

The ciciu del villar nature reserve

The Ciciu del Villar Nature Reserve has been a protected area within the Maritime Alps since 1989. Its landscape is unusual for Piedmont, with characteristic mushroom-shaped erosion columns that make it unique. It also offers a wide variety of fauna, which can be observed in the few hectares of the protected area. A survey carried out in 2000 revealed 479 formations, sometimes isolated, sometimes grouped. They vary in size from 50 cm to 10 m. The most common type are no larger than 2 m. The diameter of the “stem” varies between 1 and 7 m, while that of the “cap” can reach up to 8 m. The Reserve offers a series of trails, allowing visitors, depending on how much time they have and what type of visit they are interested in, to discover its various aspects.

These range from a simple walk of around 750 m to the more challenging trail of around 7 km. Dedicated to families are the short “Ciciuvagando” trails and the one along the Rio Bello Canyon to discover the local fauna. The Reserve can be visited all year round. It is equipped with toilets and picnic areas. Information is available at the Visitors’ Centre. Guided tours can also be booked.

Related trails
  • From the Maira Trail to the nature reserve car park: about 400 m - Departure from the Ciciu nature reserve
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Via Pascal, 7 - 12100 Cuneo Tel. 0171/69.62.06 - 0171/69.87.49 - Partita Iva 02063980045