Castelletto Molina: in the hills of High Monferrato the church that "escaped" from the castle walls.
The municipality of Castelletto Molina is located on the hills of High Monferrato, reaching the province of Alessandria with its southernmost borders.
Located in a natural landscape, great for those seeking peace and relaxation, it is about fifteen kilometres from the centres of Nizza Monferrato and Acqui Terme.
The town covers an area of 3.07 km² and has a population of about 160 inhabitants.
It is 40 km from Asti, the provincial capital.
The name of the municipality seems to derive from the late Latin castelletum, meaning small castle. Regarding the second part of the toponym, Molina, we can assume the adoption of the most widespread surname in the town.
The village has ancient origins, and some archaeological finds confirm the existence of settlements in the place already in Roman times.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Monferrato passed under the domination of the barbarian populations who came from Northern Europe. Towards the end of the first millennium after Christ, the Marquisate of Monferrato was established, entrusted to the Aleramo.
Later the marquisate passed to the Palaeologos, the dukes of Mantua and finally to the Savoy.
During the centuries there were many families of feudal lords including the Porta di Acqui, the Marquises of Incisa, the Marquises Agnelli, the Counts Veggi and the Thea, surname still widespread in the town.
The election of the municipality of Castelletto Molina occurred between the twelfth and thirteenth century with the creation of a parallel administration to the feudal lord, headed by mayors consuls and mayor, until after World War II when he was elected the first Republican mayor.
Thanks to its geographical position, Castelletto has always been an important crossroads, which has favoured in the past exchanges with people from other areas, facilitating the reception capacity of the native inhabitants.
Castelletto has always been a municipality with few inhabitants, the highest documented population was, according to the 1921 census, it was 549 people.
After World War II, due to the depopulation of the countryside in favour of the city, the inhabitants came under 200, making Castelletto Molina one of the smallest villages in the province of Asti.
Now there is a gradual return of individuals encouraged by the resumption of agricultural activity, especially the wine-growing area, the true engine of the area, which also characterizes the hilly landscape designed by the vineyards.
Notes: most of the information on the history and monuments of Castelletto Molina were taken from the book: “Appunti storici su Castelletto Molina” written by Gin Matteo Mecio edited by Litografia Domenicane, Alba.
Food and wine and typical products.
The territory is characterized by rolling hills (the average height is 225 meters above sea level) which, given also the excellent exposure to the Sun, are cultivated mostly in vineyards with excellent production of D.O.C. and D.O.C.G. wines (Barbera d'Asti, Barbera del Monferrato, Moscato d'Asti, Brachetto d'Acqui, Dolcetto d'Asti, Cortese dell'Alto Monferrato and Chardonnay).
To be seen.
The main places of interest overlook the main square of the village.
The Castle of Counts Veggi, of medieval origin, is characterized by the presence of five towers used for defence and as ancient prisons.
Interior space consists of two buildings, including a noble chapel, open to the public twice a year to celebrate mass.
The castle is inhabited by several co-owners families.
The Church of Saint Bartolomeo Apostolo, a parish church, was once enclosed in the walls of the castle with its façade facing east.
The era of early construction is lost in the distant centuries of the Middle Ages.
Towards the middle of the seventeenth century, the church was completely destroyed and was rebuilt and inaugurated on November 20, 1688. Opposite the church we find the elegant municipal building.
Also, worth seeing is the Oratory of Annunziata (or Church of the Castle), built between the 14th and 17th centuries, and the Sanctuary of Madonna della Neve, which becomes a summer church from June to August, leaving only the parish church of Saint Bartolomeo Apostolo events in which a greater influx of people is expected.
In via Roma there is an interesting mural painting dedicated to Don Amilcare Ruella.
The premises of the local Bottega del Vino there is also a small museum dedicated to agricultural arts.
Castelletto Molina is still one of the few centres of Asti to keep alive the practice of the “balon”: the “ball to the bracelet”, today “ball to punch”, is an ancient sport very popular in the Cuneo area and in the Ligurian Apennines.
For a few years the town played well in League A, thanks to the efforts of the passionate inhabitants and the casting of a champion like Massimo Berruti, attracting hundreds of spectators from outside, making summer Sundays a continuous party.