Revigliasco d'Asti, in the "living room" of the Tanaro Valley where the cherries have the taste of the sky...
Starting from Asti and along the flat road that runs at the foot of the hills and a short distance from the left bank of the Tanaro, we reach, after only 7 km from the provincial capital, to Revigliasco d'Asti.
After the two hairpin bends of the ascent that leads to the village, we see the village that develops compact on the back of the hill, dominated by the imposing size of the parish church and the elegant and at the same time robust bell tower that rises to its side.
Revigliasco is known as "the town of cherries", fruits that, paraphrasing a wonderful sentence of the book "Family Lexicon" by Natalia Ginzburg, have the taste of the sky and spring.
The spectacle that its hills reserve for the visitor, both in the period of flowering and in that of fruit ripening, is truly exceptional.
But Revigliasco is not only the town of cherries: despite the decline in agriculture, there are still companies that produce fine wines from vineyards located in areas particularly suited - since ancient times - to viticulture.
In addition to agricultural production and beautiful landscapes, the town also reserves visitors other historical, architectural and artistic surprises.
The town covers an area of 8.84 km² and has a population of about 780 inhabitants.
Characterized by a set of factors favorable to the settlement - such as the resources offered by the rivers, the fertility of the land, the soft performance of the hills - the territory between Tanaro and Borbore was inhabited since prehistoric times and was the subject of intense colonization in Roman times.
In the territory of Revigliasco, toponyms of clear Roman derivation, such as Grisane, Arpeziano and Viano, attest to the presence of agricultural companies headed by Roman settlers who settled in the area, probably in the first century before Christ.
Even the toponym Revigliasco, which in a document of 886 appears in the Ruviliasco form, could derive - according to some authors - from Rupilius, that is from the name of the owner of the place on which, already in Roman times, arose a first conglomeration of houses and in followed, in the early Middle Ages, the village developed.
Regarding the Roman era, it is important to remember that the territory of Revigliasco was crossed by the ancient road that connected Hasta (Asti) with Pollentia (Pollenzo).
The toponym ad quartum, recorded in the oldest land registry of the town of 1564 and referred to a region located at the current road Cuneo, attests the presence in that area of the cippus indicating the fourth mile from Asti.
Another important trace of the Roman presence is the funerary plaque, found in 1948 in the Grisane region, which is reminiscent of Publio Toranio, a veteran of the XIII legion, belonging to the Pollia tribe.
The plaque is now located near the apse of the parish church.
The oldest documents concerning the village date back to the 9th century.
The oldest is the one already mentioned in 886 which is kept in the Capitular Archive of Asti and which recalls a certain Samuel de Ruviliasco, witness to an act stipulated in Asti. Regarding the oldest documents concerning the town, it should be noted that they refer to the ancient settlement located near the present cemetery and near the ancient church of Saint Martino.
Only much later, towards the end of the thirteenth century, the inhabitants, along with those of other disappeared settlements of the area such as Viano and Arpeziano and, in part, Castiglione di Romano, will move inside or near the enclosure of the castle, corresponding to the site of the "villa", that is, of the current historical center.
The first memory of the existence of the castle of Revigliasco dates back to 1010. In a document written within its walls we learn that the castle is in the secular hand, while the administration of justice belongs to the Bishop and a good part of the patrimony to the Chapter of the cathedral of Asti. At the beginning of the eleventh century, the ecclesiastical presence appears dominant but not exclusive. It is flanked by the competition of some eminent local families, which are part of the heritage and military control of the territory.
In the first half of the twelfth century, Revigliasco became part of the possessions of the City Council, already existing in 1095. The dependence from Asti was recognized by Emperor Federico I Barbarossa in 1159.
This direct dependence failed in the second half of the XlV century. In 1371, in fact, Asti sold "the castle, the villa and the men" of Revigliasco to Amedeo Roero who started the Roero di Revigliasco line.
In 1561, Roberto Roero, by virtue of the will of his mother Eleonora San Severino, will take the name Roero San Severino, which will remain the family of Revigliasco until its extinction, which occurred in the mid-nineteenth century.
Because of its proximity to Asti, Revigliasco always shared the fate of the city, passing after the crisis of full municipal autonomy and the temporary Angevin prevalence, first under the Visconti - to whom the city was given in 1342 - and then, in 1387, below the dukes of Orleans by virtue of Valentina Visconti's dowry.
In 1531, by the will of Emperor Charles V, who ceded the Count of Asti to Beatrice of Portugal, wife of Duke Charles III, Revigliasco passed under the Savoy. After becoming part of the Duchy of Savoy, Revigliasco was later involved in the historical, institutional and military events of this state until the creation of the unitary state.
Food and wine and typical products.
Since 1926, the year in which the market was established, for many decades, Revigliasco has shared with Pecetto Torinese the primacy in Piedmont of cherry production.
Twenty thousand plants, crowded markets, buyers who came from afar and contended for hundreds of baskets, lined up on the square filled with juicy tamporje, as the cherries were called in the local language.
Since the post-war period the phenomenon has progressively reduced but the relationship between Revigliasco and the cherries has not failed.
Today, the cherry market no longer exists but has been replaced by the Cherry Festival (Sagra della Ciliegia), which takes place in June, thanks to the synergy between the Municipality, Pro Loco and the Confraternita della Ciliegia; through this showcase local producers continue to make known their product, scratches and blackberry from Revigliasco.
The cultivation of the cherry is accompanied by that, of very ancient origin, of the cultivation of the vine.
The vineyard is present in the hills of Revigliasco in the best positions, in the dry lands and better exposed to light and solar heat.
Sometimes, vineyards are planted carefully with the brope or the dog that seem to be monuments to the ability and the rural art. They are the historic vineyards. These are flanked, as now almost everywhere, the more rational ones of recent plant where the brope are replaced by less poetic cement poles.
In addition to the hill "the product of wine" requires another more secret space where to travel its slow, silent evolution: the cellar. This is where the long process takes place from fermentation, to bottling, to aging.
The wines produced in Revigliasco are Barbera d'Asti and Grignolino d'Asti, red wines among the most typical of Asti and Monferrato. Rustic and refined at the same time and above all genuine...
The Astigiano, no less than the Langhe, is the land of truffles.
Also in Revigliasco there is no shortage of places suitable for the formation of the Tuber Magnatum Pico, the white truffle (tuber of the rich as the botanical term indicates), as there are also fans of trifolai, which at night, when darkness and silence allow maximum concentration and confidential, scour the territory in the hope of discovery. If luck will reward their interest and their passion, the product will end up on the stands of the fairs of Alba, Moncalvo, Villafranca and Asti, where in October and November enthusiasts and experts come from all over the world.
Finally, we find the famous round hazelnut from Piedmont that supports, and sometimes replaces, the cultivation of the vine.
To be seen.
The village of San Rocco.
To welcome the visitor at the beginning of the village is the chapel of Saint Rocco.
The chapel of ancient origin, probably seventeenth-century, but which is presented today in a reconstruction of the early twentieth century, gave its name to the village and once also to the street that leads to the center of the village. The name of the street was then changed, in post-unification, in via Roma.
The chapel is much loved and cared for by the inhabitants of the village who organize the feast of the saint with a procession, blessing and distribution of the "breads of Saint Rocco" on August 16th.
Continuing along via Roma, you can stop at no. 12 and enter the courtyard to see the house where Vittorio Alfieri lived his first year of life (1749) with a local nurse.
Regarding the permanence of Alfieri at Revigliasco, it is worth mentioning a fact that Alfieri himself recounts in "Vita". Almost every day the father went on foot from Asti to Revigliasco to see his beloved son. Following one of these journeys, made at the beginning of January (1750), his father fell ill with severe lung disease that in a few days led him to death.
Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
Continuing along Via Roma, you reach Piazza Vittorio Veneto, the main square of the town. In seeing how this square is now, nobody imagines that, until the beginning of the century, it was not a square, but the "public moat".
A large pool, that is destined to receive rainwater from the "villa", ie the highest part of the town. Water used to water cattle, wash clothes and other domestic uses.
Now this large public space is the nerve center of the town, a place of meeting and socialization where there are some services (post office, bank) and shops (bar and shop).
If you do not look up to the south and you do not notice the presence of the church and the town hall (what usually happens to those who quickly cross the town), you are led to think that the town only extends along the axis of crossing in the direction of Celle Enomondo.
But it is precisely in the South that the oldest and most historically significant part of the town is located.
In the heart of the town.
From Piazza Vittorio Veneto, taking Via Bertolotti, you cross a limit that is invisible today but easily imaginable: the limit of the ancient fortified village and you enter the "villa".
A narrow space within which, in the Middle Ages, but largely still in the eighteenth century, there was a network of houses much denser than the current one.
It should be noted that in the vicinity of the parish church stands a splendid statue of the Virgin Mary on a column with a Corinthian capital.
The most typical place of the "villa" is the ancient Via dei Gatti (now Via Trento) which partly maintains its traditional urban character and which deserves to be preserved and protected in all its aspects. From this street you can admire the beautiful eighteenth-century structure of the rectory articulated in two sleeves with double loggia.
But it is easy to ignore this secondary and difficult not to suffer the attraction exerted by the imposing church and then by the open space of the square that immediately attract the visitor.
The two prestigious architectural wings constituted by the facades of the church and the town hall and the spatial regularity give the square a reserved, almost aristocratic official character.
You can end the visit of the "villa" along the last stretch of Via Bertolotti (formerly Via Arciciocchera) and then turning right into Via Ripasso. On the right side of this short stretch of road, you can see the ancient access to the rustic farmhouse of the castle which still preserves the eighteenth-century wooden door.
The castle was demolished around the middle of the nineteenth century.
The village of San Martino.
After visiting the "villa", the heart of the village and the most important monuments of Revigliasco, after having covered the short stretch of via Ripasso, you are in via Gioberti which is the name given at the beginning of the twentieth century to the second part of the director of crossing the country towards Celle Enomondo.
The urban core crossed by the street bears the name of Borgo San Martino, as it is located in the direction of the ancient parish church of the village which was located near the cemetery.
The village was particularly developed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries especially towards the south, taking advantage of a small hillside that extends in this direction and giving rise to a new way: the current via Roero.
It is this street that houses some private houses with historical and architectural value, like the Gardini house of the first half of the nineteenth century and the Orecchia house of the early twentieth century.
See you in Revigliasco.
From Piazza Vittorio Veneto, going in the direction of Celle Enomondo, past the village of San Martino, you find yourself, after having traveled a short stretch of road, in open country, on the hill of the Cemetery, in the place where once stood the town.
The hill deserves a stop for its position, perhaps the most beautiful of the municipal area, from which you can enjoy a beautiful view that, on clear days, allows you to embrace in almost a single glance the wide valley of the Tanaro, and the hills of Langa and Monferrato.
Continuing the road of the Serra, the road to Celle, you touch the houses Merlone and you pass behind the farmhouse of Castellero (also known as the villa Boero), formerly of the counts Roero di Revigliasco, then the Isnardi di Montà.
Beyond the hill of Castellero and the group of houses of Rivoira Bassa, we begin to glimpse the entire hilly area that slopes towards the valley of the Borbore, the hills of Sandamianese, Cisterna, Roero ... and, in addition to them, beautiful days, the alpine chain dominated by the unmistakable summit of Monviso.
To greet the visitor on the "ends of Revigliasco" is the graceful Chapel of Beata Vergine delle Grazie, symbol of protection and wish for a happy continuation and a welcome return... in Revigliasco.
The Municipality of Revigliasco, unlike most of the small towns of Piedmont and Italy, has the privilege of owning a historical coat of arms.
A crest, that is, chosen ab antiquo, at an unspecified moment in history, by the Revigliaschesi fathers, as an emblem, a sign of recognition of the Community.
The seat that transmitted the oldest representation of the coat of arms is not the town hall, but the parish church. The emblem, in fact, is reproduced in the center of the first arch of the vault of the church and then on three desks, placed in the church itself, originally reserved for members of the Municipal Council.
The oldest evidence of the coat of arms and 1741 is located in the context of the construction of the new parish church strongly desired by the City and in large part built with funds from the Municipality itself.
We do not know if the emblem was chosen in this context or if it was previously used by the Municipality. The one chosen by the revigliaschesi was, however, a classic coat of arms of civic heraldry, a crest rich in symbolism.
It depicts the Agnus Dei, or the Easter Lamb, symbol of the risen Christ.
On the flag (symbol of victory) supported by the lamb are inscribed the letters CDR that stand for "Community of Revigliasco".
The revigliaschesi of the past centuries chose, therefore, this symbol to express their strong attachment to the religious tradition, since in it they recognized their fundamental cultural reference and the place where their collective identity could best express themselves.