View on the Rectory from the Monferrato balcony: this is Albugnano.
Albugnano dominates the Lower Monferrato from its 549 meters above sea level.
Thanks to the particular altitude and panoramic views, the Monferrato balcony is defined: from its famous Belvedere Motta, the highest point of the Monferrato territory where once stood the Castle of Albugnano, destroyed by the French in the XV century, it is possible to enjoy a splendid panorama on the Asti hills and catch a glimpse of the Basilica of Superga.
In the Belvedere garden, the trunk of an elm that became famous as Olmo del Ciabattino is still visible.
Here Don Giovanni Bosco, canonized saint in 1934, lectured for his boys and used to put his activities in a cobbler that he placed in a cavity of the tree.
The delightful village of Monferrato covers an area of 950 hectares, populated by about 500 inhabitants; it is just over 30 km from the provincial capital, Asti, and from the regional, Turin.
Ancient land of Roman domination, as evidenced by the various archaeological finds discovered in the area, the town was governed by the Marquises of Monferrato and later by the inhabitants of Asti.
In more recent times, since the seventeenth century, Albugnano was the territory of the Savoy and, until the end of 1800, fiefdom of the canons of Vezzolano before the institution was suppressed by the government of Napoleone Bonaparte.
Food and wine and typical products.
Albugnano, an agricultural and tourist centre of Monferrato, is making a niche place in the Piedmontese wine world thanks to a precious wine made from Nebbiolo grapes, the Albugnano DOC, with a very limited production (just 22 hectares of land) between the towns of Albugnano, Pino d’Asti, Castelnuovo Don Bosco and Passerano Marmorito.
In order to promote and consolidate the oenological and historical identity of the production area of Albugnano DOC, the Albugnano 549 association was founded in April 2017, which brings together 13 producers from the area.
The number 549 is not accidental: it recalls the meters above the sea level of the municipality of Albugnano. In addition to wine, the albugnanesi have handed down over the centuries some typical recipes to be tasted, including: “ciape”, slices of pears, apples and prunes desiccated in the sun or in the oven; the “sauce of the friars”, a mixture of honey, walnut oil, cider vinegar and celery juice with aphrodisiac effects; the “tincture of the friars”: an infusion of herbs used for digestive teas, as a thirst quencher and as a remedy for rheumatic pains; the “puré of the canons of Vezzolano”, made with field mushrooms and wild spinach; the “bagna cauda of friendship”, consumed in the friar's table and considered as a dish around which all discord can be smoothed out.
To be seen.
The name of Albugnano is inextricably linked to that of the Rectory of Saint Maria of Vezzolano, an imposing building built at the end of the eleventh century and a jewel of the Romanesque in Piedmont.
The Rectory has been part of an important monastic complex, of which today the church, the cloister and the chapter house remain visible.
The Permanent Exhibition of Romanesque in the province of Asti is set up in the guest house of the Abbey of Vezzolano.
Traces of Romanesque are also visible in the plan of the parish church of Saint Giacomo Maggiore, built around 1450, and in the enclosure of the cemetery of Albugnano where stands the Church of Saint Pietro, an ancient parish church built before the year one thousand in stone sandstone.
The Rectory of Saint Maria of Vezzolano is also called, inappropriately, Abbey of Vezzolano, although it has never been an abbey.
A legend tells that the construction of the Abbey was commissioned by Charlemagne: while the king was hunting in Vezzolano, the vision of three skeletons emerged from a tomb, an omen of a possible premature death.
Terrified by the image, Charlemagne asked for the intercession of the Holy Virgin and managed to overcome the disease: as a sign of gratitude, he ordered the construction of the imposing structure.