Calamandrana: between the painted hills of Barbera and Moscato, the fortress that dominates the Belbo Valley.
The Municipality of Calamandrana is divided into two areas (Calamandrana Alta and Calamandrana Bassa) and is made up of several inhabited centers: Quartino (Town hall), Bruciati, Chiesa Vecchia, Valle S. Giovanni.
From an economic point of view, although in recent times some industries of considerable production importance have settled in the Belbo plain, the hard core remains the agricultural one, with numerous nurseries in the flattest part of the territory and with many numerous wineries in that hilly area.
The town covers an area of 12.79 km² and has a population of about 1700 inhabitants.
It is about 35 km from the provincial capital, Asti.
The lands that today constitute the Municipality of Calamandrana were inhabited in antiquity, by populations of Celtic origin, the Ligurians, defeated verses 200 BC. by Romans; after the fall of the Empire they became part of the possessions of the Marquisate of Monferrato for a limited period (beginning of the 12th century)
The first mention of the name “Calamandrana” appears in a public document of the year 1129 where it refers to a “manso”, that is to a farm of this territory donated by the castellan Guglielmo, son of Amedeo, to the monastery of Saint Maria near Acqui.
It could be tempting to bring the name Calamandrana (with five “a”) to the expression “the herds fall” since the main nucleus of the inhabitants lived in the past the hill with the top of the castle and the old farmers grazing the flock "to the plain".
“Calamandrana” derives, instead, more likely from a dwarf oak that in Piedmont is called “calamandrina”, because once the hills were covered with thickets of elms and oaks. In some 18th century atlases, the name Calamandrana is clearly written “Calamandrina”.
The territory of Calamandrana was owned by Bonifacio del Vasto, who ceded it to the San Marzano di Canelli, subdued in Alessandria at the beginning of the century. XIII.
During the bloody battle for the annexation to the Alexandrian fiefdom, the inhabitants of Calamandrana temporarily abandoned the plain and sheltered near the church of Saint Giovanni in Lanerio (founded by the Queen Teodolinda) where they built the new centre of Nizza della Paglia (the current Nizza Monferrato).
The domain of Calamandrana went back to Asti in 1232 by Frederick II, then to the Marquises of Monferrato who granted it to the Marquisate of Incisa and in 1305 it passed to the Asinari family.
In the year 1657 Calamandrana was granted by the Duke of Mantua to the Marquis Giovanni Maria Piccolomini, in 1672 it passed to the count Matteo Quinciani. In 1682 Francesco Maria Cordara became Count of Calamandrana, who began the construction of the Castle (which you can see today) that included the ancient tower.
While the dominion of the Ducal House of Mantua turned to decline, the House of Savoy was affirmed throughout the Piedmont area.
Immediately after September 8, 1943, in the dissolution of the Italian army, in Calamandrana several soldiers escaped from the barracks. The people and the parish priest Don Emilio Carozzi, a courageous man, welcomed them and helped them.
In November 1943 a partisan formation took place in Calamandrana Alta with over one hundred young people.
Also, raids and searches began here. Then the partisans decided to leave the town, moving higher.
A company of fifty soldiers of the “Muti” took a stable room.
At the end of 1944, frequent clashes took place. There will also be a dead man. Once as many as 80 people were taken hostage and threatened, the houses looted.
Towards the end of 1945, the partisans returned. From there, Canelli could be controlled well and the road to Nizza Monferrato. The final action was prepared. In this dramatic situation, the town hall was also burned.
Food and wine and typical products.
Calamandrana is a land with a strong wine vocation.
The vineyards of Barbera and Moscato are very widespread; the wines can be tasted in the various cellars scattered throughout the area and in the Wine Parlor (Bottega del Vino).
To be seen.
Calamandrana “drop” a trio of architectural beauties not to be missed: the Church of Saint Giovanni alle Conche, of Romanesque period even though it underwent several transformations over time, the parish church - baroque - of the Concezione di Maria Vergine, erected in the area of the ancient village, and the Castle, destroyed in 1225 and rebuilt in the thirteenth century, the only remaining of the six existing on the surrounding hills.
Today the old manor, privately owned, is used as a dwelling.
We also recommend a visit to the other parish church, in the lower part of the village, the one dedicated to the Sacred Heart (Sacro Cuore), which stands out for its interesting stone and brick wall texture.
In Calamandrana, in 1704, Giulio Cesare Cordara a Jesuit and an Italian historian was born.
Ordained priest in 1733, he was a great attendant of salons of the highest Roman nobility (he was a close friend of the Orsini and Albani families) and a friend and advisor to Pope Benedict XIV and the Stuart princes in exile, covering several positions until the suppression of the Compagnia di Gesù.
He was also a historian, philosopher and satirical poet, much praised for his elegant and pure Latin.