In Frazione S. Antonio, on the top of the Vulpilio hill, stands the small Romanesque chapel of the Madonna della Neve.
It was originally the church of the then vanished village of Vulpilio, already attested at the beginning of the twelfth century under the rule of the bishop of Asti, and then it probably dependent on the parish church of Musanza; dedicated to St. Mary, it first appears for the first time in a document of 1228 and returns at the beginning of the fourteenth century as a commendation of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Asti.
Toward the beginning of the 17th century, the chapel became the exclusive property of the Goria family, to which Giacomo belonged, the bishop of Vercelli, founder in Villafranca of the Opera Pia Sant'Elena. The title of “Our Lady of the Snows” probably spread in the early years of the 18th century: it is in fact defined by the pastoral visitor Monsignor Todone in 1729.
In 1828 the Goria were succeeded, as patrons,by the counts Canalis di Cumiana.
About the building, the shape of the basement, pilasters, and the single-lancet windows would seem to indicate that the apse of the church preserves the Romanic masonry under the plaster and throughout the height of the semi-columns.
The façade is a gable and the portal is flanked and surmounted by rectangular openings.
The bell tower, with a double-arched bell cell and a pavilion roof, is from the Baroque period.
A starry sky is painted on the barrel vault of the interior.
The small building on the south side is divided into two floors: on the ground floor, there is the sacristy, and on the first floor two statues, a Holy Archangel and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
According to tradition, those killed in the violent battle here in 1554 during the wars between the French and Spanish are buried near it.
BeWeb - Beni Ecclesiastici in WEB
- Chiesa della Madonna di Volpiglio
GAL BMA - Gruppo di Azione Locale del Basso Monferrato Astigiano
- Comune di Villafranca d’Asti (AT)