Between the tenth and eleventh century there was a vast commercial network belonging to Asti.
For the defense of one of these trade routes (perhaps at the behest of Ottone III) arose, presumably at the beginning of the eleventh century. a Castrum in Canelli with the task of protecting the roads that, going up the Valle Belbo, led to the ports of Savona and Vado.
The castle was built on top of the hill then called “Villanuova”, dominating the ancient Ottonian court. The great Castrum, towards the end of the thirteenth century, underwent profound changes: the noble buildings that characterized it declined due to the extinction or emigration of noble families from the Consortiile of Canelli.
Around 1330, the Castrum was transformed into “Villaforte” then called “Villanuova” because recently the element of the people had occupied the spaces left free by the nobles.
Until the 12th century, the ancient complex remained the "palatium veterum” with the tower housing the castle and the garrisons.
The walls of the Castrum possessed two doors: that of Mezzo, buried at the end of the seventeenth century. to build the parvis of the new church of S. Leonardo, and the door of the Anitra, under the castle towards the opposite valley.
The Asinari bought the fief of Canelli in 1335 without modifying the Castle, but their successors, the Scarampi, brought important improvements and upgrades between the fifteenth and the sixteenth century. of which there are sculptural and architectural fragments.
The castle with its fortifications was largely dismantled in 1617 by the Spaniards during the war of succession of the Monferrato, destroying what was the pride and admiration of the visitors.
The reconstruction work began in 1626 restoring the fortifications; the Castle was rebuilt starting from 1676 by the last Marquises Scarampi Crivelli, even if in reduced forms and with the character of a palazzotto.
Interior seems to have been designed by Amedeo di Castellamonte, a ducal architect.
In 1706, when the Scarampi-Crivelli family was extinct, the complex was subdued to the Galleani counts. In 1803, it was bought by the Alfieri of Asti, well inserted in the Napoleonic establishment.
The feudal lordships were abolished by revolutionary France (1810) and the castle was bought by Count Bellini as a private citizen, then passed to the Parone and then to Gaspare Sardi and then again to Avv. Vincenzo Bertolini, senator of the Kingdom whose heirs gave it to the Great Officer Camillo Gancia who entrusted to the architect. Arturo Midana (1929-1930) the restoration and renovation of the building.
The intentions of the Midana were to give the Castle the style of the late 600 even for the interiors, where careful research of the period gave the premises a harmonious variety of furnishings.
The decorations of the Canellese painter Giovanni Olindo, and the numerous polychrome stuccos, recall the Baroque current. Externally two wings were added making the building more imposing. Angular and medial pilasters break the compactness of the construction, the simpler the sides and the protruding bodies.
The windows of the mezzanine floor and those of the first floor are soberly decorated. Above the portal, which is accessed by two side staircases, there is a balcony whose window-door stands out with greater width than ornamental motifs.
Between the two flights of stairs, an opening leads to the small chapel.
The arrangement of the surrounding areas was also significant; the creation of the Italian garden brings the Castle back to the splendor of the 17th century; the porter's lodge obtained from the steep ground towards the road and harmoniously connected to a small preexisting Chapel.
On the opposite side, an old building, was adapted from the Midana to use a garage.
The Castle, so restored, still dominates the inhabited area from the top of the hill and is a panoramic landmark and symbol of Canelli. Interesting: setting; interior; grandiose and elegant atrium with spatial rhythms that recall the Juvarra.
• Availability: private property | not open to visitors