Monferrato: religion and paganism
11/07/2018 - 30/12/2018
Arrival at a charming family-run farmstay with a cellar inside.
Check in and departure for Cortazzone, about 15 minutes from the hotel, and tour of the church of San Secondo, a national monument. The church is located on a hill whose name refers to a sacred place even before Christianity: Mongiglietto (Latin Mons Jovis, Mount Jupiter or Mons Iubili). This Romanesque church is a small gem in which the physical and telluric characteristics and enery of the place have been exploited with the greatest mastery. Everything is contained and essential, but the energy that is particular to much larger places of worship is also present.
The three water veins intersect at two points, creating a healing path. The point where the ancient baptismal font was, is still consecrated and rich in energy.
The symbology of the sculptures on the outside and on the capitals of the inside columns, is exceptionally interesting. Some of these symbols represent bifid sirens (with two tails), snakes, griffins and Lamias. This symbolism is clearly Templar, and suggests the presence of underground water veins marked by these artifacts and thus accentuates the geological and biological importance of this site, corroborating the hypothesis of a decorative intervention by the Order after the year 1100.
Return to the hotel.
Guided tasting of the wines produced on-site.
Dinner and overnight stay.
Breakfast at the hotel and departure for Montiglio Monferrato.
Visit to the Romanesque parish church of San Lorenzo.
Like many other churches in the Monferrato region, this church is situated at the top of a hill, overlooking the beautiful rural landscape. The various restoration works over the years have unearthed funerary gravestones from Roman times. These findings suggest that where the church stands today, there was once a pagan altar (supposedly dedicated to the god Mercury because of a particular votive inscription that was found). In all probability, the Celts, who once lived in these areas, also benefited from this force of the land.
In this place, the ancient art of seeking the special energy of the earth has been respected. They built a building on it with the appropriate methods and finally made it sacred. They ensured the population had contact and a dialogue with the gods as well as a constant and continuous connection with the other points of force of the earth. The church is crossed by three water veins and is cut horizontally by a synchronic line that connects it to other Romanesque churches in the area (such as San Secondo di Cortazzone) and to the most important places of worship.
Transfer to a location at at the foot of the Santuario Di Crea Natural Park. In the Seventeenth Century, the founder of the Estate, then Governor of Moncalvo, famous captain of fortune, and enterprising patron who boasted a great passion for Barbera wine, wanted to create a wine-growing oasis retreat to meditate before and after his battles.
Tour of the cellar and guided tasting of the best wines, accompanied by cheese, sausages, quiches and more.
After the tasting, tour of the Sanctuary of Crea.
Located on one of the highest hills of the Monferrato region, it is part of the Sacred Mounts of Piedmont and is recognized as one of the UNESCO heritage sites. According to tradition, it was Saint Eusebius who brought the statue of the Virgin and Child, still venerated today. He spread Christianity and Marian devotion among the villagers of Monferrato and the Piedmontese valleys, which at that time were still completely pagan. His commitment to eliminating paganism was remarkable, especially in very old worship centers like Oropa and Crea. He replaced the cult of the Celtic female gods with the worship of the Mother of God, Mary, and thus replaced the symbol of the healing of the Goddesses with the miracles of the Virgin. The second chapel, dedicated to St. Eusebius, is located in the middle of the steep path in front of an imposing rock wall, several meters long and several meters high. On this rock there is an old seat; some legends call it "The healing stone".
Dinner at leisure.
Breakfast and departure for Vezzolano.
Tour of the Abbey of Vezzolano, the territory’s Romanesque monument par excellence.
The rectory of Santa Maria of Vezzolano was part of an important monastic complex which was documented in 1095. Of all the buildings that made up the monastery, the church, the cloister and the chapter house have been preserved to this day.
At the end of the tour, transfer to the town of Grana for a tasting of God Bacchus’ gifts.
Arrival in a small famly-run winery, established several generations ago. Guests will be accompanied on a tour of the cellar and of the vineyards where they will discover all the secrets of the production of Ruchè, Grignolino and Barbera d'Asti.
Tasting of the wines produced onsite accompanied by charcuterie boards and cheeses.
In the afternoon, guests will have the opportunity to see one of the territory’s symbolic magic stones. They are so dear to popular tradition that they’ve dedicated a mural to it.
“It’s name is Pietramurales and represents "La Culiëta" or the stone that predicted weather. What I had always ignored was its original position, and especially the fact that the church that was above it was dedicated to Saint Eusebius. The rock was a big rock that, when bad weather was about to arrive, would start to get wet, thus predicting the weather; a sort of ancient weather service. This is another example of pre-Christian pagan lithic cults deeply rooted in this region. There is no written evidence, but it seems that the stone has disappeared and has been replaced by a madonnina (a little statue of Virgin Mary). Some villagers say that the stone was located just below the side of the main church and that one day it was walled in (we do not know exactly when) and replaced with a madonnina, as it often happens in these cases.”
Villa del Foro is a few kilometers from Alessandria, one of the first Celtic and Roman centers and, once, the most important in the region before the founding of the regional capital.
The church dedicated to Santa Varena is in the small village’s square. On the left side, at the bottom, there’s a rock emerging from the plaster. This too is one of the many Healing Stones found in these regions. Even nowadays, those who have a backache climb up the ladder, lean with their back against the stone and repeat three times: "Santa Varena, Santa Varena, make my backache go away”.
Dinner at leisure.
Breakfast and check out.More info
The price includes:
- 3 nights at a farmstay in a double room with breakfast
- 2 dinners (beverages not included)
- 1 light lunch with tasting in a cellar
- tour and tasting in a cellar in Grana
The price doesn’t include:
· Transfer, possible tourist tax, extras and all that is not included under “the price includes"
Consorzio Operatori Turistici Asti e Monferrato - Sistema Monferrato & StileDivino Italy
Grana, Serralunga di Crea, Cortazzone
Information and contacts
- 14026 Montiglio Monferrato (Asti)