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titolo

Between Asti and Vezzolano

The first proposal follows the principal route taken by the medieval pilgrimages. One of these Via Francigena routes passed through our area from Chieri and had the rectory of S. Maria di Vezzolano, symbolic Romanesque monument of Piedmont, and the town of Asti. Here is the route. Leave Asti following signs for the district of Viatosto. The church of Viatosto is the fourteenth-century rebuilding of the Romanesque Santa Maria di Riparupta (11th century). The interior, with three naves with groin vaults supported by pillars with capitals sculpted in sandstone, is very harmonious and recent restorations highlight beautiful frescoes that date from the 13th to the 16th century featuring predominantly the nursing Madonna.
From Viatosto we reach the SS 458 road towards Chivasso, the ancient road to the Roman settlement named Industria. After a few kilometres, (precisely ad septimum milium) we turn for Settime where in the cemetery you can visit the little church dedicated to San Nicolao, at one time a parish of the area.
A few kilometres separate Settime from Cinaglio. Here, at the cemetery, we find the Romanesque church of San Felice that rises on the hill of the same name, in a position that dominates the area. Its construction goes back to the 12th / 13th century.
From Cinaglio a deviation towards Chiusano is possible. Along the road named Santa Maria we come across a church of the same name, whose apse shows the Romanesque Lombard bands supported by consoles in sculpted terracotta. (external visits only ).
Continue, following directions for Camerano, then for Soglio and finally Cortazzone where we meet one of the jewels of Romanesque Asti. Passing through the built up area we arrive at the hill of Mongiglietto. Here the splendid church of San Secondo (11th – 12th century) merits a long rest in order to admire the exceptional decorative symbolic systems featured both inside and outside of the small building. The facade is austere, but on the cornice above the portal we find a sea shell decoration, which is a symbol used by the pilgrims that would indicate the church as a resting place of the Via Francigena.
Leaving Cortazzone continue towards Montafia. Here, in the cemetery, is the small church of San Martino. Still around Montafia in the small cemetery in the district of Bagnasco is the remarkable parish church of San Giorgio. The basilical plan in three naves and three imposing apses seem to be suspended on the steep slope of the hill on which it is sited From Bagnasco proceed on the SP 10 road until Gallareto then climb towards Piovà Massaia: entering the village the ruins of the church of San Giorgio are visible on a volcanic ash spur.
The next stop is a short distance away in the municipality of Cerreto. Here, follow the signs for the village of Casaglio, where you find the church of Sant’ Andrea whose earliest history dates from the 11th century. Positioned on a small hill, in a well cared for grassy area and in a pleasant environmental context, it dominates the roofs of the small village perhaps, in the past, buildings pertinent to the church, that was dependant on the monastery of S. Anastasio of Asti.
Continuing on the SP10 road towards Aramengo you find the signs for the church of San Giorgio in the village of Masio. Situated in a fine rural context near to a farm house, the small church has an 18th century facade but a very simple Romanesque apse, subdivided in three areas with three windows (external visits only ). We climb then towards Albugnano. The road rises more than 500 metres above sea level. Before climbing to the panoramic viewpoint at the parish boundary, a stop in the cemetery for the small church of San Pietro is obligatory.
Here we are at the most important stage of our itinerary; 1 km from the boundary is the splendid and not-to-be missed complex of S. Maria di Vezzolano, the most representative Romanesque monument of the Asti area currently at the centre of the Transromanica project. Visits from Tuesday to Sunday 9.00-12.30 14.00-18.30 (summer ) / 9.00-12.30 14.00-18.00 (winter) Tel. 011 9920607.
Continue towards Berzano San Pietro, where, passing through the built-up area, you continue on to the cemetery and then by foot on the path to reach the restored church of San Giovanni among the trees: the Romanesque traces are in the stone apse. (external visits only).
From Berzano we descend towards the municipality of Castelnuovo Don Bosco. Past the village of Bardella, we climb (on foot, but it is worth while doing so to enjoy the splendid panorama) towards the small parish church of Santa Maria di Cornareto, isolated between the vineyards and singularly oriented towards the north. Arriving in Castelnuovo you find the church of Sant’ Eusebio (that formerly belonged to the diocese of Vercelli): here, looking for Romanesque remains in the apse, you will see that it is lower than the surrounding ground. The original building, which collapsed due to a landslide, served as a base for the subsequent reconstruction.
In the village of Mondonio (birth place of San Domenico Savio), in the direction of Capriglio (hamlet of Garesio), you find the church of Santa Maria di Rasetto, with a covered entrance porch, located in a delightful landscape on the edge of a small wood.
Descending towards Villanova, we arrive in Buttigliera d’Asti: in the cemetery we find the church of San Martino – the ancient parish of the area, which has an apse entirely built in brick.
Arriving at Villanova D'Asti in the hamlet of Corveglia (along the road to Poirino), one can admire the splendid square Romanesque tower of 5 floors bordered by decorations with Lombard bands in which single, double and triple light windows are sited. .
Continuing in the direction of Asti you cross Villafranca d'Asti, where the sole evidence of the lost settlement of Volpilio is the church of the Madonna della Neve, (private property and the interior cannot be visited), which is sited between the cypresses.
Then follow the directions for Tigliole where, before reaching the village, among the vineyards, we find the church of San Lorenzo that welcomes us with the fine portal in sandstone set in the facade of bricks, some of which bear a herring bone pattern scratched into the surface. Finally the last stage of this first proposed tour of the Romanesque area of Asti is in the municipality of San Damiano d'Asti where there are two bell towers visible. The first is in the village of San Giulio. The second tower is in the village of San Pietro: here the parish church bell tower features a base in sandstone and brick and small arches and saw tooth decoration in the lower part.