Cortazzone: the charm and the mysteries of the Romanesque “abandoned” masterpiece on the hill of Mongiglietto.
Cortazzone (in piedmontese Cortasson) is a rural village of ancient origin and example of a “diffused” town, with houses scattered throughout the territory and several very populated hamlets.
The landscape is a continuous alternation of cultivated fields and woods.
The town covers an area of 10.33 km² and has a population of about 650 inhabitants.
It is 19 km from Asti, the provincial capital.
Cortazzone is a village of ancient origin.
It is believed that as early as the tenth century it was a possession and county of Azzone - perhaps from Modena.
It was a “curtis”, that is a system of agricultural management typical of the High Middle Ages, completely autonomous in arts and crafts; all the people at the service of the "lord", who protected them, defended and nurtured them in case of need, practically they belonged to him.
The “curtis Azonis”, in the years 1094 - 1095, was donated to the church of Pavia, which enfeoffed the monks of the Red Tower of Asti.
In 1314, it passed from these to the “Pelletta”, a powerful Astese family of “casanieri” - bankers (or usurers) of the time, who also operated outside the border, especially in Savoy.
Extinct the branch of the Pelletta, heir of the fief was the countess of Favria, from which it passed to the Count of Govone who, at his death, linked the possession to the Order of the Saints Maurizio and Lazzaro who, in 1860, sold it in lots.
Thus ended the economy of the “curtis” and began the small peasant property.
Cortazzone, over the centuries had many Lords for various events of that rather turbulent period, but it was a papal dominion, starting from the years 1094 - 1095.
In fact, the rebel son of Emperor Henry IV, Corrado, in 1093 passes the part of his father's adversaries, puts himself in charge of the papal party and is crowned King of Italy.
The dominion was strenuously defended by the Popes, up to the concordat of 1741 between Benedict XIV and Charles Emmanuel III, after which it passed to the province of Asti, under the dominion of the Savoy.
Great was the regret of the population that lost all the special privileges, including the right to asylum, which made of Cortazzone a haven, for every persecuted by justice.
The town and the castle were badly damaged by the French in 1706, during the Spanish succession war (that of the sacrifice of Pietro Micca).
Of the medieval castle, (private property since the eighteenth century and always belonging to the same family or heirs) rebuilt in 700/800, there are the ancient square tower and sections of the walls, with traces of Guelph merlons.
Food and wine and typical products.
Typical dishes of the area are anchovies in a green sauce and egg noodles with truffles. The prized hypogeum mushroom is the protagonist, in December, of the Monferrato White Truffle Fair (Fiera del Tartufo Bianco del Monferrato).
To be seen.
The town is built around its medieval Castle, now privately owned, rebuilt between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as a result of serious damage suffered by the French in 1706.
Also, nearby is the Brotherhood of Saint Rocco (18th century) with its characteristic gabled façade.
In Cortazzone there is another splendid church, of Romanesque origin, dedicated to the cult of Saint Secondo: it rises on the hill of Mongiglietto, 241 meters above sea level.
It was parochial until the seventeenth century when the inhabitants decided to move on a nearby hill, leaving the building and the cemetery that surrounded it.
Fascinating are the zoomorphic and anthropomorphic sculptures visible in the façade and the symbolism reproduced on capitals and columns, which could allude to the location of the church on an ancient pagan place of worship.
The church is one of the most appreciable examples of Romanesque in the Monferrato and a national monument since 1880.
On the south side of the Romanesque Church of Saint Secondo there is a singular sculpture that, according to the study by Piero Leonardi (1984), in its primitiveness intends to refer to a sexual coupling scene, which is not common in the ornament of a church, and would find explanation in local prehistoric traditions.