Maretto: in the ancient land of apple trees the mystery of the castle disappeared without leaving a trace.
The Municipality of Maretto is located in a hilly position, to the west of Asti. In addition to the concentric, the population is distributed in some hamlets and scattered houses.
Agriculture, which has characterized the town in the past, was affected by the general phenomena of emigration and commuting.
Despite this, the agricultural landscape has maintained its character of continuity with previous eras.
The town covers an area of 4.93 km² and has a population of about 360 inhabitants.
It is 18 km from Asti, the provincial capital.
Given the scarce documentation of medieval times available concerning Maretto, we do not know what were the first lords of the place.
Probably they were exponents of an eminent local family that took its name from the feud itself. In this regard it is possible to advance the hypothesis that this family belonged to the characters Henricus Maletus, Jacobus Maletus and Bernardus de Me/eco present in various acts (1207, 1217, 1228) kept in the Codex Astensis.
As the chronicle of Ogerio Alfieri attests, Maretto during the century XIII became part of the territories subject to the City of Asti: posse astense protenditur in the valley Trivercie usque to Butiglieriam et Meletum (the territory of Asti extends in the Triversa valley up to Buttigliera and Meleto).
In the XIV century the feud of Maretto was in possession of a branch of the astese family of Troya, a family of merchants - cashiers particularly active in Switzerland. Subsequently, at the beginning of the XV century, from the Troya the feud passed for sale to the lords of Montafia.
With the acquisition of the feud by the Montafia, Maretto became part of the small town belonging to these lords and comprising the fiefs of Montafia and Varisella, Roatto, Maretto and Tigliole.
The subsequent events relating to the fief of Maretto, therefore, will not be distinguished from those relating to all the other feuds subject to the Montafia.
On June 4, 1417, the "adherence" stipulated between Antonio and Balduino Montafia and Filippo d'Orleans for the fiefs of Montafia, Roatto and Maretto held by them - is said in the document - in free and frank hatred from the power of any person and from any vassalage.
The alliance was renewed and confirmed in 1574 and 1596 by Henry III and Henry IV, King of France.
The fact that the two main fiefs of the Montafia, those of Montafia and Tigliole were episcopal fiefs, the first by the bishop of Turin and the second by the bishop of Pavia, and the fact that the Montafia tended to conceive the whole of their fiefs as an autonomous territorial unit will induce in the XVI century, the Roman pontiff, supreme guarantor of the Episcopal fiefdoms, to consider all the fiefs of the Montafia as dependent on the Apostolic Chamber.
On 8 December 1560, the nomination, by Pius IV, of Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia to apostolic vicar over the feuds, without prejudice to papal sovereignty. The appointment had been solicited by the Duke of Savoy himself, with the reason that the fiefdoms had become difficult to control from the point of view of public order due to the excessive presence of outlaws who found it easy to shelter, as they constituted a jurisdictional island in the County of Asti which, in 1532, had become part of the territories subject to the Duke of Savoy.
With the killing on 6 October 1577 in Aix, in France, of Ludovico di Montafia, the last male descendant of the first line of the Montafia, began the feudal constituents of the small county of Montafia a troubled period characterized by contrasting noble claims and conflicting legal opinions.
The Duke of Savoy, the Pope, the bishops of Turin and Pavia, the heirs of Ludovico (the widow and daughter decided to claim their rights and made more powerful for this purpose due to the close links with the royal court of France acquired by marriage) pretended to take possession of the feuds exclusively and proceeded to seizure / feuding and taking possession.
The complex question seemed to turn to solution on June 20, 1600, with the formal purchase by Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy by the widow of Ludovico di Montafia, Giovanna Coesne of the Lords of Light and Bonnestable, of all four fiefdoms at the price of 190 gold schields (120 for Montafia and Tigliole, 70 for Roatto and Maretto). But the lack of funds from the duke and the further legal complications will still delay the solution of the case.
In fact, only the Feuds of Roatto and Maretto will pass to the Duke of Savoy while on the Feuds of Montafia and Tigliole the high papal sovereignty will be recognized.
From this moment the two fiefs of Roatto and Maretto will become part of the Duchy of Savoy and will be granted to various families on the basis of the normal administration of the feuds by the State of Savoy.
On June 20, 1605, Carlo Emanuele I will transfer the two feuds to Matilde of Savoy (natural daughter of Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy and of Antonia Montafia sister of Ludovico) as marital property of Carlo di Simiana of Gordes d'Albigny.
To increase the prestige of the Simiana, the fiefs will be elevated to the honorary rank of Marquisate.
In 1716, with the death of Carlo Giovanni di Simiana, the men's lineage was extinguished
Lords of Albigny, Roatto and Maretto will pass to the daughter Irene of Simiana, wife of Prince Andrea Imperiali of Francavilla.
But already in 1725 the feuds will be sold to the "bourgeois" Marcello and Giovanni Gamba di Perosa, ennobled with the title of counts, and so the Marquisate returned to being a county.
Food and wine and typical products.
The town is characterized by the excellent production of Piedmont red wines including the Freisa and Barbera.
To be seen.
The parish church of Saints Maria e Michele, built in the first half of the eighteenth century, is characterized by its eighteenth-century brick façade. Of particular value is the major altar in painted scagliola, dating back to 1741, and the seventeenth-century statue of Saint Michele.
Also, worth seeing is the Church of Santa Croce, built in the seventeenth century and restored in 1997, with its valuable stucco altar, and the Church of Mater Dolorosa, rural, built in the eighteenth century.
On the territory we note the presence of different votive pylons: the main ones are included in the Maps section of Maretto website.
The toponym Maretto derives from the Latin Maletum / Meletum meaning apple orchard, a place characterized by the significant presence of apple trees. The oldest attestations of the toponym (1207, 1217, 1268) show the Maletum form; in the XIV century, instead, the Meletum form prevailed. The dialectal form and adaptation to Italian have then led to the current outcome.
Maletum / Meletum was a settlement of probable Roman origin, which was located in the valley located east of Maretto, in the Vatassera or San Michele region.
On the site of the ancient demic center there is a pylon dedicated to Saint Michele that recalls the ancient disappeared Church of Meletum and is still recognizable the site of the ancient cemetery that was used by the inhabitants of Maretto until 1925.
The formation of Maretto in its current location can be traced back to the 12th and 13th centuries.
Initially it had to be a simple fortified place around which, a little at a time, a part of the population of Meletum moved.
Nothing more remains of the fortified structure than the toponym "Castello" of a relief located to the east of the concentric and indicating, probably, the site where the ancient castle of Maretto stood.
There are no records of the causes and times in which the castle was abandoned or destroyed.