Valfenera

At the gates of the Low Monferrato the "city of the seven towers", the severed bell tower and Tinca Gobba Dorata: Valfenera to discover.


Landscape.

Valfenera rises to the extreme western limit of the province of Asti, to the borders with the Cuneese and the Torinese, and represents one of the doors of the Lower Monferrato; also its ancient name, Vallis Finaria, is due to the border location between the Turin plain and the Asti hills.

It covers an area of 22.04 km² and has a population of about 2400 inhabitants.

Valfenera is 24 km from the provincial capital, Asti.


History.

The territory was inhabited already in Roman times and, previously, by Celtic-Ligurian people as evidenced by the numerous archaeological finds discovered in the area.

Valfenera was the scene of bloody battles during the period of passage of domination over the Po Valley from the Longobards to the Franks; fief of Sigiberto in the tenth century, around the year one thousand passed to the abbey of Nonantola.

In 1041 the territory was donated to the Emperor Henry III who gave it as a gift to the Bishop of Asti; then it passed to the Gorzano family, who, under the guidance of the Marquises of Saluzzo, erected a defensive castle around 1200 - destroyed in 1557 - where today stands the Piazza Tommaso Villa with the town hall.

The inhabited area, the extreme bulwark of the Marquisate, was then transferred for defensive reasons to the West, in the location that it still maintains, following the foundation desired by the Astesi of the fortified center of Villanova (1248).

The fief of Valfenera was supported by the most influential families of the Asti region: from the Brizio (1135) to the Cavazzoni (1280), from the Isnardi de Castello (1325) to the Mazzetti (1437), who first boasted the title of "Conti" of Valfenera.

In more recent times Valfenera was governed by the Muratore (1545), Giulio Cesare Benso (1600), ancestor of the great statesman Camillo, the Nomis (1630), donors to the community of the current parish church, and the Morozzo della Rocca (1773), the whose lineage became extinct only in 1912 with the death of Marquise Carolina.

Valfenera was at the center of bloody battles between the French and the Spanish; in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was subjected to violent looting and completely razed to the ground in 1557 by the troops of General Brissac.

The economic development of Valfenera reached its peak in the nineteenth century thanks to the impulse of the agricultural and artisan sector; significant was the activity of silk spinning mill and the commitment of illustrious Valfeneresi such as Tommaso Villa (1833-1915) and the count Giovanni Quirico (1859-1946), personal physician of Umberto I and Vittorio Emanuele III.

Villa, deputy for 44 years, was President of the Chamber of Deputies, Minister of State and Senator of the Kingdom.

In the second world war Valfenera gave an important contribution of its fallen sons, among whom we remember Gino Berardi, gold medal for military valor, the pilot Natale Fiorito, silver medalist, and Lisa Melchiorre, decorated with the war cross, which, however, are dedicated three ways.

After September 8, the town was the site of clashes between the German army and partisan groups; in the hamlet of Villata the GL Brigade "Domenico Tamietti" was installed, one of the first partisan units, led by the commander Giovanni Scagliola, called "Piero".


Administration.


Food and wine and typical products.

The tinca gobba dorata del Pianalto is among the symbols of Valfenera.

The fish, a variant of the common tench, is characterized by the predominantly yellow-reddish livery and the presence of a humpiness at the height of the first cervical vertebrae that makes it, in fact, "hump".

The golden tench, served fried and soused, can be tasted in the first weekend of June, during the festival dedicated to it.

The village is also characterized by the breeding of Piedmontese cattle, at the base of the typical local dish, the mixed boiled meat: an opportunity to taste it is during the Fair of Saint Orsola (Fiera di Sant'Orsola) scheduled for the month of October.

Meat salad is also excellent, dressed with oil, salt and garlic. This last ingredient is the protagonist of the Fair of Saint Bartolomeo (Fiera di San Bartolomeo), dedicated to garlic and to "pitu", the turkey.

Among the typical recipes we mention finally the peppers with the bagna cauda and the hazelnut cake, often accompanied by zabaione. The characteristic wines of the area are Barbera and Freisa.


To be seen.

The historic center of Valfenera is full of artistic remains dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including the building of spinning mill and Villa Scanagatti (now Fassini).

In via N. Fiorito (formerly Umberto I) are the villa of the notary Beltramo, now owned by Comm. Lagorio, and the ancient arsenal.

On Piazza T. Villa there are two buildings of considerable architectural importance: the Palazzo Villa that houses the Town Hall and the primary schools, and the building with the offices of the surveyor and architect Morocco (formerly the Municipality of Valfenera).

In via A. Diaz you can instead admire Villa Toso and the building of Regina Margherita maternal school, interested in important restoration work in the summer of 2008.

Particular attention was given to the painting works; in-depth color analysis.

The stratigraphic essays conducted by expert personnel made it possible to reproduce original colors and combinations, characteristic of the eclectic taste of the second half of the 19th century.

The works were completed with the installation of the entrance gate similar to the original nineteenth century and the redevelopment of the garden.

Remarkable value, both from the historical and architectural point of view, is attributed to the sacred buildings among which the parish church dedicated to Saints Bartolomeo and Giovanni Battista stands out in Piazza Roma; next we find the confraternity of the Holy Spirit (Confraternita dello Spirito Santo), today deconsecrated and without furniture, which has been recently restored; not far away is the bell tower of the Ciuchè Mocc in piazza T. Villa.

There are many churches scattered throughout the area including the church of the Madonna degli Angeli dating back to 1600 and that of the Santissima Trinità built around 1820.

On the territory of Valfenera there is also a Sanctuary named after Saint Andrea.

Also in this context must be remembered the churches of Saint Antonio Abate, in the locality of Bricco Visconti, Saint Sebastiano in the homonymous hamlet, Saint Rocco, used as a lazaretto during the pestilent pandemic of the seventeenth century must be remembered.

Finally, the eighteenth-century parish church dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in the hamlet of Villata is worthy of note.

For nature lovers we recommend La Rocca, a park with an equipped and educational area.


Curiosity.

Valfenera is also known as the "city of the seven towers" because of the complex defensive system of the ancient castle, consisting of seven towers, erected in the thirteenth century and destroyed in 1557 by French troops led by the Duke of Brissac.

Toponymy recalled the presence of the fortress and the walls with via Giovanni XXIII, once via del Fossato.