The guest comes, the hostile escapes: Mombercelli, the town where bread is called wine, (M)umber one of Tiglione Valley.
Mombercelli (in Piedmontese Mombërsèj), capital of the Val Tiglione, the ancient valley of the lime trees, in the heart of the Monferrato has always welcomed, with the sincerest cordiality and exquisite courtesy, the visitor in search of precious tranquillity, healthy, uncontaminated environment excellent eno-gastronomic tradition and culture that ranges from the recovery and enhancement of the ancient to the ringing juxtaposition of contemporary expressive art.
A speech, a journey that the town that has the motto “Hospes veniat, fugiat hostis" (The guest comes, the hostile escapes) proposes with enthusiasm to the attentive visitor, who is in search of detail and beauty.
The town covers an area of 14.23 km² and has a population of about 2200 inhabitants. It is about 20 km from the provincial capital, Asti.
In 1125, when for the first time it is mentioned in a document, Mombercelli was part of the county of Loreto. But we tend to believe that its foundation is to be placed in the Lombard period. Towards the year 1000, this center, which was endowed with fortified structures, also extended its dominion over the lands of Malamorte (Belveglio) and Vigliano.
In 1160 the town of Asti squeezed with Mombercelli, who had sworn loyalty, a military alliance and arranged to build its own tower in the castle enclosure.
During the fights between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, Mombercelli was the scene of bloody events: first with the conquest of the village by Martino Alfieri, then with the reconquest of Asti accompanied by looting and massacres.
In 1342 the dominion of Galeazzo Visconti was affirmed on the Asti region. But Mombercelli, with other nearby centres, was not included in the dotal properties granted to his daughter Valentina and ended up directly in the orbit of the Milanese Duchy: it had to remain there for over three centuries, until 1736 when it passed into the Savoy dominions. As an “imperial fief” it was able to benefit from some privileges which were the basis of its commercial fortune.
Also, from Milan was the family that, from 1538 and for centuries, dominated the castle of the place: the Maggiolini, in co-ownership with the Bellone and the Asinari of Bernezzo. Like all the towns of the area, even Mombercelli knew for a long time the hateful, heavy burden represented by the military lodgings, and the costs that they entailed; the constant presence of troops and stragglers was also at the origin of the smear of smuggling and of the banditism that for a long time harassed the community, literally throwing it on the pavement.
During the war between Cristina of France and her brother-in-law Princes Tommaso and Maurizio, Mombercelli was occupied by the French up to 1650 and re-visited by the Spaniards. The occupation was repeated during the war of the Spanish succession in 1736, for the sale of Austria, Mombercelli became part of the Sardinian Kingdom.
Food and wine and typical products.
Mombercelli is the town where bread is called wine.
The motto speaks about the humble, patient, careful and loving care with which its inhabitants have always dedicated themselves to the main product of the area and how from their land they know how to take the bread of their daily life with such honesty.
Today Mombercelli is a town well integrated into a working reality of an evolving society, with first-rate production activities in the wine field where, since 1900, it has boasted a notable Wine Cellar and about 40 winemakers who offer a valuable product, full of official recognition, able to satisfy every need, such as Barbera del Monferrato, Barbera d'Asti (if you say Barbera is exactly the same thing: you will still be very well served), Grignolino, Cortese, Brachetto and also Dolcetto and Chardonnay alongside real delicacies such as Dominicale, Cirivé and Ippocrasso® produced by Luigi Spertino on the basis of historical research conducted by Pierstefano Berta and Giusi Mainardi.
The ultra-selected local Grappa has in Mombercelli its absolute kingdom, the nirvana of aromas whose fame has now spread from the United States to Japan.
The wines of the territory are elegantly accompanied by the “diamonds” of the kitchen, the white truffles, which can be tasted during the Regional Fair of Truffles and Local Products, in October.
To be seen.
At Mombercelli, beauty is at home right from the town hall, housed in an elegant building built in the late nineteenth century.
In the background there is the ancient Castle, built in the eleventh century and which was the residence of the Maggiolini Counts; today the fortress is privately owned.
On the municipal territory there are two museums: MUSarMO - Civic Museum of Modern Art, in the rooms that once housed the jails of Mombercelli, with interesting works by artists of the twentieth century, and the Historical Museum of Vine and Wine (Museo Storico della Vite e del Vino), established in 2001 with the precise desire to “save” the heritage of traditions and objects of peasant culture.
A short distance from the Castle, we find the parish church of Saint Biagio, built at the beginning of the seventeenth century on the site of the ancient Oratory.
Also, worth a visit, is the lovely Sanctuary of Madonna Assunta di Fontanabuona, built in the sixteenth century and that in the seventeenth century was used as a hospital.
The massive presence of chapels and votive pylons mainly concentrated in the hamlets' territory demonstrates the deep-rooted religious cult that has accompanied the history of the mombercellesi.
Giuseppe Ivaldi (Mombercelli, 1928 - 1986), mombercellese DOC, has fixed, over time, for pure delight, situations, events and faces of his land with precise and suggestive cut, using small-scale photo / cinematographic images in various formats: 25000 meters of film, 4000 photographs from 1945 to 1986, plus a good number of magnetic sound reels and TV.
Proven radio technician, self-taught, has also travelled the streets then pioneering television with resourcefulness and genius, setting up with a spirit of discovery of novelty, animated by so much passion and at the price of sacrifices, his TV studio (TeleIvaldi-Mombercelli), radiating from the bell tower short evening programs throughout the valley to let people know the new techniques with the same humble enthusiasm with which, previously, timidly showed his films, in a corner of the square, on festive occasions, real testimonies of an era.
The homonymous cultural association is dedicated to him.