Rocchetta Tanaro: four thousand years of history and heroism among the fine rows of Barbera.
The town of Rocchetta Tanaro is located in the Alto Monferrato at 107 meters above sea level, in the province of Asti, it covers an area of 1600 hectares and has a population of about 1500 inhabitants.
The built-up area follows the right bank of the Tanaro river
It is 16 km from Asti, the provincial capital.
The first inhabitants arrived at least four millennia ago across the river Tanaro and settled in the bends and the prominences that the river formed along its course. This is witnessed by the recent findings of the Neolithic Annonese, as well as the abundance of paleontological and fossil remains in the soil (mastodon, dinosaur, shells) refers to geological eras.
The presence of imperial Rome is confirmed by the excavations carried out by the Archaeological Superintendency around the Church of the Ciappellette, where remains of roof tiles and pottery of the Roman era, already surfaced in other areas than the Via Fulvia, were found. The way marked on the tabula Peutengeriana without the indication of the name, and today commonly called Fulvia, connected Dertona with Hasta, and its path is in many points reconstructable. From Tortona, the road proceeded westward, inside a rural area, with a long straight road, which reaches San Giuliano Vecchio and Spinetta Marengo, from where it proceeded to Forum Fulvii. Near this site the road crossed the Tanaro and turned north-west, perhaps towards Felizzano. To the north of the river, the path of the Fulvia towards "Hasta" (Asti) is conceivable thanks to numerous toponyms that seem to be connected to the Roman road network, such as Quattordio (Ad quattuordecim), Castello d'Annone (Ad nonum) Quarto Valterza (Ad tertium lapidem) , Quargnento (Quadrigentum). Arrived in Asti the road perhaps turned towards Augusta Taurinorum and the Alpine passes.
The medieval events prior to 1000 are linked to the Arduinics by the "offer" by Olderico, Marquis of Turin, of the Flexo chapel at the Abbey of Pomposa.
Subsequently to the Aleramici with the marquisate of Incisa, who in 1155, to the descent in Italy of the Barbarossa extended its jurisdiction on the territory of the "Rocheta", already pertinence before the Church and then of the Commune of Asti.
"Rocheta" is mentioned for the first time in the diploma of 1041, when Emperor Henry III confirms the country as a possession of the bishop of Asti. From this document it is thus deduced that, having had the imperial confirmation, "Rocheta" belonged for a long time before to the Church of Asti.
With the advent of Federico Barbarossa in Italy, the fiefdom passed to the Marquises of Incisa.
The now documented existence of the fortress of Priamissa "ad petram missam", the cylindrical tower and remains of the walls and part of the ancient castle, still family residence, remain evidence of the centuries-old presence of the Incisa to whose knightly and feudal history was tied up to 1700 the Rocchettese affair.
After the peace of Constance the Asti citizens returned to arms and recovered Rocchetta and defended it also against the claims of the Marquis of Monferrato in 1193. Subsequently they gave it as a fief to the Marquises of Incisa, but under the dominion of the city of Asti.
With the coming of the Angevins of Charles I to Italy, the Marquis of Incisa turned the flag and, rebelling against the inhabitants of Asti, allied themselves with the French. The inhabitants of Asti defeated the Angevins and drove them back over the Alps, then named the Bertali, noble inhabitants of Asti, new lords of Rocchetta who took possession of the castle and reinforced it with men and ammunition, improving the defense of the border south of the Tanaro.
During the Guelph – Ghibelline wars, thanks to the intervention of the emperor, Rocchetta returned to the Marquis of Incisa. With the Diploma of 1355, the emperor Charles IV assigned to the Marquis of Monferrato all the past privileges and the dominion of all the lands of Monferrato, including Rocchetta. Subsequently, with the Diploma of 1359, Rocchetta's concession to the Marquis of Monferrato was denied, Rocchetta returned to the Marquises of Incisa.
At the end of the 14th century the Asti area came under the dominion of the Visconti, but unlike the neighboring Rocca and Annone, Rocchetta was not included among the lands that Giangaleazzo Visconti, in 1387 donated as a dowry to his daughter Valentina on the occasion of the marriage with the Duke of Valois, but was separated and annexed to the Duchy of Milan.
After the destruction of the Incisa Castle (26 July 1514) by William IX of Monferrato and the subsequent dismemberment of the Marquisate, the Incisa della Rocchetta received the investiture of rulers of their part of the marquisate (1535) from the Spanish Government stationed at Milan, which considered Rocchetta "feudum rectum".
The sad consequences were not lacking due to the presence of foreign armies during the Wars of Succession, which for almost a century weighed heavily on the population forced to coexist with precarious and difficult situations that nevertheless stimulated the commercial vocation of which the "golden bisante" is a symbol. "- coin minted during the Byzantine Empire - which holds the rampant lion of the Municipal Coat of Arms between the branches.
During the war of succession of the Monferrato, Rocchetta suffered several damages, in 1625 it gave lodging to the Spanish army commanded by the duke of Feria. In 1635 the town was attacked by the Savoy soldiers who, after having conquered the fortress, gave themselves to a fierce sacking. In 1643 the Spaniards, fearing that the French might take possession of Rocchetta, encircled it with embankments, restored the old walls, garrisoned them with men and ammunition but this did not prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy.
With the Treaty of Vienna of 1738, Rocchetta together with other lands, was ceded to the King of Sardinia.
Description of the territory and the country as it appears at the beginning of the 19th century.
"... in the land of Rochetta the artists of every abundant species are found, that many inhabitants come and go from the two rivieras of Genoa conducting there kinds and foodstuffs of Piedmont.
Although there is no market at Rochetta, there is nevertheless a continuous ebb and flow of people who from the next lands with those of the town trade.
The only district of the middle is passable, though unequal and muddy; a small square square stands before the parish church, on which there is the town hall that has nothing of value; the parish church is modern and has no other merit than to contain in itself the ashes of the former Jesuit Abbate Vasco, a well-known literate.
The only building that deserves some attention is the Palace of the Marquis Nicolao Incisa ... it is well distributed, it is decently mobilized and presents all the comedies of a beautiful holiday ... it has a good library ... "
The history of Rocchetta Tanaro is derived from the "Corografia Astigiana" work that the lawyer Gian Secondo De Canis wrote between 1814 and 1816. The manuscript is kept at the Astense Consortium Library.
Food and wine and typical products.
The food and wine vocation is part of the culture, history and local economy.
The cultivation of vines, production and marketing of Barbera and Grignolino also had great pioneers such as the Incisa family, which cultivated extensive vineyards and the Marquis Leopoldo Incisa experimented with 105 varieties of "indigenous and foreign" vines at the beginning of the 19th century; published in 1861 the first ampelographic collection of Piedmont.
Giacomo Bologna "Braida" in the 80s promoted and introduced Barbera outside national borders, enhancing its characteristics and ennobling it in the same way as the greatest Italian wines, one of the most famous "historical" producers of Rocchetta: the winemaking tradition continues in the activities of qualified local businesses and wineries, such as Pinbologna and others.
To be seen.
In the open countryside, once on the banks of the Tanaro, stands the small church of Saint Maria de Flexio with a Romanesque apse, formerly a dependency of the Abbey of Pomposa, to which it was given in "xenodochio" (cernobbio) by Sigfredo presbyter "professo ex natione suo lege vivere longobardorum "in 1036.
In Regione Sant'Emiliano stands the eponymous church, formerly a dependency of the Abbey of Azzano which extended its jurisdiction over farmhouses and lands in the Rocchettese territory bordering "Roca".
In the concentric, the Salone Santa Caterina, once the Church of the Brotherhood of the Most Holy Annunziata or the "Battuti", preserves a chiselled fresco being studied by the Superintendency for the artistic Heritage, columns and Romanesque shelves.
The Parish Church built in 1700 on a pre-existing medieval chapel dedicated to Saint Stefano, has a Romanesque bell tower dated MCCCCLXXIIII (1474). It preserves a marble font with engraved "Comunitas Rocheta 1476", painting attributed to the school of the Caccia, painting by Michelangelo Pittatore, ivory crucifix from the 17th century of the Provençal school.
The famous economist Battista Vasco (1733-1796), who died at the Incisa castle, was buried in the Church; a large plaque shows the learned funerary inscription dictated in Latin by his literate friend Francesco Morelli.
Another stone commemorates the Salesian Mons. Giuseppe Fagnano (1844-1916) explorer missionary of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, buried in the cathedral of Punta Arenas; the largest lake in Tierra del Fuego is linked to its name, but above all to the most significant pages of the Salesian missions in South America. His first Mission in Tierra del Fuego is now considered by the Argentine law, Historical Monument of National Interest.
Also worth seeing is Rocchetta Tanaro Natural Park, where there is the presence of the Il Frutteto della Memoria and the "big beech" (called "Faggio Emilio") of the Val du Gè (Valle del Gelo), an ultra-specimen with a height of over 25 meters and a diameter of foliage around 20 meters that grows to the minimum altitude for Piedmont (130 meters over sea level), and represents a reminder of the beech forests spread over the entire area at the end of the last glacial period, and the Integral Natural Reserve "Il Verneto", WWF oasis. Another monumental tree present in the area is the Virginia Juniper in località Cascina Sant'Emiliano.
In Rocchetta there are also two museums: Museo del Tanaro e delle Contadinerie, with the reconstruction of some typical Rocchettese rural life environments, and the Museum of wine labels, an ideal journey along the Italian Regions which, through the graphics, invites visitors to discover the best national wines;
It is still worth mentioning the Castle of the Marquises Incisa della Rocchetta, where for centuries in the cellars the production of the wines of the Marquises Incisa della Rocchetta was carried out, transferred since 1994 to "La Corte Chiusa" (ancient family property).
A cylindrical tower and parts of the building remain from the ancient medieval castle. The castle is now privately owned (not open to visitors).
Rocchetta Tanaro distinguished itself in the Italian Liberation War during the Second World War: for this it was awarded the silver medal for military valor.