Cortandone, the town of wild nature that "challenges" the witches.
The territory of Cortandone, located in the north-west area of the province of Asti, lies on the Triversa stream and is characterized by very diversified land depending on the structure of the land, height, and exposure.
The lower parts are made of marine deposits, while the hills have strong clays alternating with sand.
The town covers an area of 5.02 km² and has a population of about 300 inhabitants.
It is 17 km from Asti, the provincial capital.
In the second half of the twelfth-century Cortandone belongs to some families of Lords, the Di Cortandone, small local lords probably members of a single original family, united in a noble consortium and deeply linked to the monastery of Saint Maria di Casanova near Carmagnola.
For more than a hundred years, from 1170 to 1276, they appear with a certain frequency in the documents of the Casanova abbey but at the end of the XIII century, as far as the future history of Cortandone is concerned, traces of it are lost.
At the beginning of the fourteenth century, the castle of Cortandone was owned by the Mandra, lords of the place following probable purchases from the previous Di Cortandone domains.
In 1359 half of the Castle, fiefdom and jurisdiction and other assets are sold by the Mandra to the brothers Galvagnone and Donadio Pelletta of the late Giovannone, citizens of Asti, already landowners in Cortandone and a decade of lords of half of the fief of Cortazzone.
The documentary sources of the fifteenth century relating to Cortandone are not numerous; in about ninety years, from 1359 to 1447, the Palladi (Pallio or Palio) of Asti took over from the Mandra family, that detect their last fourth part of the castle and jurisdiction while Pelletta's goods flowed into those of the Scarampi following the marriage between Diamante Solaro, widow of Bernardo Pelletta (about 1420) son of Galvagnone and Guglielmino Scarampi of the Lords of Monale. On October 16, 1445, in an arbitration award to establish the delimitation of the boundaries of the territory of Cortandone from those of Monale, we find certificates such as lords of Cortandone Antonio Pallio and Guglielmino Scarampi.
In the second half of the fifteenth century to Scarampi will succeed another family from Asti, originally from Pinerolo area and related to the Solaro, that of Di Macello, invested with the fief of Cortandone October 25, 1491. In this period the community also had its Statutes, elaborated between 1445 and 1488 by the will of Matteo Palio and Francesco Di Macello.
In 1491 the sources attested that none of the lords of Cortandone had previously had to recognize "from any Prince" the possession of the fief and the castle of the place but during the sixteenth century, with the advent of the Savoy, that reality will radically change as testify to the numerous investitures received by us.
For more than a century the lords belonged to only two families, the Di Macello and the Pallio; in 1561 the Di Macello family owned the entire castle and three quarters of the feud of Cortandone, owner of the remaining quarter is Davide Pallio "imperial and ducal public notary" that on March 24, 1561, receives the ducal investiture for the fourth part of the jurisdiction of Cortandone.
This is an investiture expressly requested by the Duke of Savoy as the Pallio declares "that he can not demonstrate his ancient Investiture, which has been lost for the past wars, but wanting to justify his title and old possession adds to hold and possess feudal goods and reasons for so long that it is not man's memory to the contrary".
Because of the succession of supplies, purchases and subdivisions of parts of the castle and jurisdiction of Cortandone from 1562 the consortium begins to expand: to benefit from the sales made by Di Macello are in the order the brothers Andrea and Odino Facelli lords of Colcavagno in Monferrato, sons of the late Bartolomeo di Cunico (1562) and Oliviero Capello, citizen and jurist of Casale Sant'Evasio (1563) to which his son Mario (1581) will take over. At the end of the century, the negotiations of further portions of the fiefdom involved other families: the Broglia di Santena and Chieri and, after more than a century and a half, the Pelletta again.
On 3 May 1582 Senator Giovanni Antonio Macello alienated the fourth part of the fief, castle, jurisdiction and feudal properties of Cortandone to Bernardino Broglia of the lords of Santena. In 1585 Bartolomeo and Isabella Palio ceded their property to Giovanni Battista Vinea (Vigna) of Asti who on 1 June 1585 also became one of the lods; however, the Lordship of the Vinea was rather short since in the early 1590s it ceded to Filippo Antoniazzi of Asti what was purchased a few years earlier by the Palio family.
Having become the owner of many properties in Cortandone but not yet invested by anyone, Antoniazzi could not satisfy the price of the various transactions completed and was forced to accept the proposals of Ottavio Pelletta who in 1592 took over his fourth part of the entire jurisdiction of Cortandone.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century the castle and the rights of jurisdiction belong to the Broglia, the Facello, the Pelletta and Mario Capello; the first lived permanently in the local castle, the Pelletta resided in the castle of Cortazzone while Mario Capello, actor of numerous economic operations that over the years proved to be bankrupt, had established himself in home of his only two subjects.
From the numerous acts of litigation dating back to the years 1599-1610 emerges a strong conflict in relations between Lords; often the discussions transcended and the threats became concrete acts of violence both towards the subjects and between the same lords to arrive at premeditated murder.
After the death of Mario Capello, which took place around 1619, the Lords of Cortandone will be reduced to three, Amedeo Broglia, Marc'Aurelio Facello and Antonio Pelletta, son of Ottavio.
On 11 April 1620, the Duke of Savoy granted the title and the dignity to Amedeo Broglia, while the Pelletta will have to wait until 1640 to also bear the same title; only time will succeed in soothing, at the Savoy court, the consequences of the tragic gesture made by Gabriele.
In September 1610 Ludovico Broglia was killed, in an ambush organized by Gabriele Pelletta, for which the Gabriele was condemned to death and the Pelletta family were seized all the goods.
A few years later, on 18 August 1654, the last significant event of the seventeenth century was completed for Cortandone: Francesco Maria Broglia sells to Pietro Francesco Facello, in his name and the two minor nephews, the whole portion of the fiefdom with rights and pre-eminences among which the title counts for the sum of two thousand double of Italy of effective gold.
From that date, and for more than a century, the Facello and Pelletta will remain the only feudal lords of Cortandone.
Source: Arturo Brunetto (Translated - Original text in Italian).
Food and wine and typical products.
At the moment agriculture, which was the main activity until the end of the Second World War, is no longer the only engine of the economy: the reasons for this change are linked to the climatic conditions, in particular to the late frosts, which have limited the cultivation of vines, and the excessive fragmentation of agricultural property which led to a progressive abandonment of land.
So viticulture survives, in the most suitable areas, the cereal farming linked to the breeding of the Piedmontese cattle, the cultivation of the hazelnut, the viticulture nursery, the horticulture, the beekeeping.
From the tourist point of view the rural territory is characterized by a particular nature, wilder than the rest of the Monferrato of Asti, which hides important naturalistic riches, appreciated by a public attentive to the conservation of the environment.
The tourist can also find typical agricultural products, traditional and bearers of a culture of the territory (wine, honey, hazelnuts, certified meat).The typical dish is the bagna cauda.
To be seen.
The Church of Saint Antonio Abate, a parish church, was rebuilt in the late seventeenth century.
From its churchyard it is possible to observe the remains of the walls of the ancient disappeared castle; the fortress was built around the year one thousand, damaged by the French troops in 1705 and finally demolished in the mid-nineteenth century.
Also, worth seeing is the Chapel of Saint Carlo (XVIII century), the Church of Saint Grato, in the hamlet of Campia, and the Sanctuary of Saint Salvatore, in late Baroque style, today a pilgrimage destination for the memory of an ancient miracle.
In the month of September in the village is celebrated the Feast of Witches (Festa delle Masche): masche are the witches in the Piedmontese language, legendary figures of the Langa and Monferrato tradition: the day is characterized by artistic performances, dinner and evening departure for a walk in the woods.