Two Municipalities, two millennial stories, a magical fusion: ninety years of... San Paolo Solbrito.
The Municipality of San Paolo Solbrito was founded in 1928 by the merger of the former Municipalities of San Paolo della Valle and Solbrito.
Throughout its history, more than a thousand years, its economy has always been based on agriculture (the organic one is constantly growing), even if the craft and commercial activities, necessary to satisfy the needs of the population living in progressive and constant increase.
In fact, there are many families in Turin and the large inhabited centers of the first and second belt that choose to move to San Paolo Solbrito, a town that has grown thanks to a careful single-family residential building, balanced and respectful of nature and traditional construction offers to all citizens and tourists a peaceful environment, far from the noise, pollution and chaotic traffic of the city.
There are various opportunities for excursions both for skilled seekers of precious and fragrant "trifole", white and black truffles - with which to flavor the traditional dishes of local cuisine, and for all nature lovers who want to try their hand along the various country walking trails, on horseback or in mountain bike in a pristine environment where you can still see wild animals such as foxes, badgers, wild boars, buzzards and unusual botanical species.
Do not forget the excellent drinking water offered by three large wells, more than 100 meters deep and located in the valley of the Rio Triversola that feed a district of 6 Municipalities, with over 10,000 users.
The town covers an area of 11.87 km² and has a population of about 1200 inhabitants.
It is 24 km from Asti, the provincial capital.
A hard flint, found near Solbrito, worked to obtain a weapon, is the oldest evidence of human presence in the territory of the town. But the first historically ascertained inhabitants were the Ligurians, a proud and warlike people of Indo-European descent, coming from Asia.
The Ligurians lived by hunting, fishing and pastoralism and practiced a rudimentary agriculture; they were divided into tribes and the one that occupied the part of the Asti region towards the Po plain was the tribe of the Eburiates. Even though the Ligurians very rebelliously ended up undergoing the yoke of Rome and absorbed its civilization.
The most important trace of this civilization in the municipal territory of San Paolo Solbrito is represented by the passage of one of the main Roman roads of northern Italy: Via Fulvia, which linked Derthona (Tortona) with Augusta Taurinorum (Turin), and crossed Hasta (Asti). This road, after entering the valley of the Rio Triversola, earned the plan between Duodecimum (Dusino) and Sulbericum (Solbrito), not far from the La Fabbrica farmstead; it then pointed to Mercurolium (near Buttigliera) and, through Ripae Oppidum (Riva near Chieri), Carrea Potentia (Chieri) and Testona, reached its final destination.
In the Augustan period the village was part of the Regio IX - Liguria, one of the eleven regions in which the Italian peninsula had been divided. And we are at the advent of Christianity, which was preached in Piedmont if not directly from one of the Apostles (some traditions even speak of Peter or Andrew), certainly by their Roman disciples.
The fact is that in the middle of the second century, the land of Asti bathed with his blood, under the accusation of having buried a Christian martyr, a young Roman soldier who converted to the gospel: Saint Secondo, patron of the Diocese of Asti.
A local tradition, still alive in the last century, said it existed in Roman times, in the valley of the Rio Triversola, between Valleossera and the Molino d'an Casà, a town called Ferrabusa.
This city would have been destroyed, for unspecified events, and abandoned, until a group of persecuted Christians, arrived in this devastated and deserted place, decided to settle there; hoping not to be surprised and tormented because of their faith, they formed at the foot of the hill currently called the Castle, using the rubble found on the spot, the modest houses and a chapel, which they dedicated to the Apostle St. Paul, who he had converted to the faith.
But we leave the traditions and return to the documented history: at the fall of the Roman Empire, in the fifth century,the establishment of the Lombard Kingdom, the advent of the Franks and the reconstruction in the 19th century, with Charlemagne, of the Holy Roman Empir, kept behind the barbarian invasion.
Here begins a long period (both troubled in the facts, as poor in the documents) in which the feudal society is affirmed, which will prosper until the dominance of the great European Monarchies of the XV and XVI century, and will survive, though in ever more limited forms, until to the French revolution. In this period the formal power is of the Emperor, but the real one is managed by the feudal lords who gradually succeed, by inheritance, purchase or armed conquest, in possession of the feud.
The villages and the respective castles of San Paolo and Solbrito pass under the authority of several powerful families; we will mention the main ones: the Supponidi, descended from Suppone, count of Turin in the Carolingian period (the name Supponito, the land between San Paolo and Villanova d'Asti reminds us of its name); the Anscaridi, descendants of Ascario, Count of Asti; the lords of Stoerda; the counts of Biandrate; the lords De Saja; the lords of Gorzano; the lords of Serralunga (the current Cantarana).
In the 13th century appeared the families Malabayla, Montafia and, above all, Ricci or De Ricciis, more modernly called Riccio.
The Riccio family was a family that since 1095 were part of the aristocracy that dominated the noble town of Asti. They were closely linked to the history of San Paolo and Solbrito for at least five centuries. Already in the mid-thirteenth century, with Bartolomeo Riccio, they appear as lords of San Paolo. Their dominions extend to include, in the fifteenth century, the lands of Solbrito, Cellarengo, Corveglia, Curia, Dusino, San Michele, Ferrere, Menabò, Stoerda and Triversola.
Among the offsprings of this noble lineage the unfortunate Davide Riccio assumes the splendor of universal fame; he was already a family member of the Duke of Savoy, Emanuele Filiberto, and was minister and adviser to Maria Stuart, queen of Scotland. Envious of the prestige that the Riccio enjoyed with the Queen and jealous of the favors that she dispensed, her husband, Lord Darnley, had him murdered in the castle of Holyrood, in Edinburgh, in 1566.
Count Carlo Aurelio Riccio was still a feudal lord in the land registry of the Community of San Paolo in 1778. At his death he was buried in the current parish church, in the chapel of the Holy Rosary, which was then the noble chapel of the Counts Gay of Montariolo and of the Counts Gianazzo of Pamparato.
The castle and the territory of Solbrito belonged to the already mentioned Riccio, to the Montafia, to the Blancardi, to the Ramelli, to the Losa-Calusio, to the Gentile.
The last owners of the fiefdom of Solbrito were the Colli, Marquis of Felizzano. Colli family became extinct with the Marquis Vittorio, who died on 22 February 1943 and was buried in the family's burial chapel, in front of the Solbrito cemetery.
The Colli gave honor to the homeland with many valiant officers, the most famous of which was the general Luigi, commander of a regiment of hunters of the Army of the Kingdom of Sardinia in the war campaigns against republican France (1792-1796).
In 1798, after the abdication of Charles Emmanuel IV, King of Sardinia, the general Luigi Colli, dissolved from the oath of loyalty to the sovereign, passed like other officers in the weapon of Napoleon and his name figure, next to that of his colleagues from beyond the Alps, in the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
From a more general point of view, the historical events of San Paolo and Solbrito follow, together with that of the nearby Villanova, the fate of the Asti County.
From 1312 to 1342 these lands passed under the rule of Robert of Anjou, King of Naples, then from 1342 they belonged to the Visconti, Lords of Milan.
In 1389, following the marriage of Valentina Visconti, daughter of Gian Galeazzo, with Luigi Di Valois, Duke of Orleans, brother of the King of France, the Asti region became French dominion, and as such remained throughout the fifteenth century.
In 1500 the long and hard quarrels between the Kingdom of France on the one hand, and the Holy Roman Empire (which included, in addition to the German dominions, also Spain and Flanders) on the other, led, in addition to ruins and looting, also to a continuous alternation of masters. These wars ended with the victory of the Empire and decisive was the famous battle of Saint Quintino, in the north of France, in which the imperial army, commanded by Emanuele Filiberto, Duke of Savoy (that of the "Caval 'd brons" of Piazza San Carlo in Turin, just to forbid), routed the French, even threatening Paris.
With the peace treaty that followed (Cateau - Cambresis, 1559), the Duke of Savoy, who had been ousted by the French, returned to possession of his dominions; indeed, these returned to him magnified, at the expense of defeated France.
Thus, the Asti region passed under the House of Savoy and, except for the brief Napoleonic period between 1798 and 1814, remained there.
Food and wine and typical products.
San Paolo Solbrito has maintained a clear agricultural vocation and is proud of the typical local products: hazelnuts, wine, meat from Piedmontese calves and poultry products.
The tradition of gastronomic specialties is still felt.
Among these we should mention the anchovies in green sauce (anchovies soaked in a tasty sauce made with oil, parsley, garlic and breadcrumbs soaked in vinegar), which are always included in the menu of local festivals.
To be seen.
It was built at the end of the seventeenth century and underwent some changes in the following three centuries.
Originally the sacred building was dedicated to Saint Sebastiano and belonged to a lay brotherhood.
The parish church of Solbrito, dedicated to Saint Pietro in Vincoli, was built in the eighteenth century on the site of an ancient chapel also dedicated to Saint Sebastiano.
San Paolo Solbrito had two fortresses of which only one is still visible: it is the Solbrito Castle (Castello di Solbrito), whose first traces date back to the twelfth century, now privately owned.
Of San Paolo Castle (Castello di San Paolo), however, no traces remain: it is known only that it stood in the Valle del Traversola together with the parish church and the shelter.
In truth, in the village there is also a third "manor" (privately owned), the splendid Palace of Counts Gay di Montariolo (Palazzo dei Conti Gay di Montariolo), a building built between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, called "the castle" by anyone.
About two kilometers north of the town of San Paolo, stands the Sanctuary dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Vico, known as Madonna di Serra.
It was built in 1753 in the same spot where, previously, there was a votive pillar that contained a reproduction of the painting of Madonna di Vicoforte.
It should also be noted that in the hall of the Municipal Council of San Paolo Solbrito. the jaw of a mastodon (prehistoric animal) is kept.
The story of San Paolo Solbrito tells a truce event that occurred around the year 900 of the Christian Era: at that time the Saracens, peoples of Arab origin, settled firmly in Provence, often swarmed, with raids, massacres and destruction, on this side of the Alps.
In one of these incursions, as the Saracens found themselves passing through the districts of San Paolo Solbrito, they were attracted by a stratagem in a valley with steep slopes and covered by dense vegetation; here the ferocious invaders had the worst because the inhabitants of the place, aware that if they were defeated would have been exterminated with their families, with extreme daring, at first they stormed them with the throwing of arrows and stones, finally, come out from the bottom of the bush, slaughtered them with axes and pitchforks.
The ground was covered by the unburied corpses of the vanquished enemies, so much so that, even in recent times, the floods or the tilling for the usual rural works, brought to light a large copy of human bones.
For this reason the place was called Valle delle Ossa (Valley of the Bones) or, as it is still used today, Valossera.