The Monteu Roero castle

The Monteu Roero castle was called Monte Acuto – from the Latin Mons Acutus – in the ancient age due to its strategic position. High-placed, on the top of a steep hill, the Mount Acuto, even then ensuring a splendid view of the magnificent Roero, the surrounding territory, it guaranteed the strategic supremacy, the safety of the fort and of its inhabitants. That is the reason why many emperors and queens have exploited the beauty and the protection of this incomparable position.

The year when the history of the castle began is 1041, when Enrico III concedes Mount Acuto to the bishop of Asti. This cession is the starting point, because even if the true construction will arrive only a century after, the gears started to mesh and the destiny prepares itself along with the history that is written.

The Bishop of Asti will be the man who concedes the soil to Guido Biandrate, the builder of the Castle. The possession will be officially awarded to him with a certificate in 1152 by the emperor Federico Barbarossa – who took refuge in this place for subtracting to the contagion when the epidemic pest decimated his troops – and by Federico II in 1238 that restated the previous concession. The Biandrate family has been the owner of the Mount Acuto Castle for three centuries, up to 1299 when it was sold to Roero – Rotari – family for an amount of over 48000 florins. The purchase, acknowledged and approved by the Bishop of Asti, has conferred to Roero family the feuds of Santo Stefano and Mount Acuto that initially took the name of Mons Acutus Rotarium, for later becoming the Monteu Roero Castle. Under the dominion of this family, the Castle was reconstructed leaving in inheritance some constructive details of that era with an incredible value and beauty. Particularly outstanding is the capital, in the portico of the internal garden, representing the heraldry shield with three wheels, the sign of the Roero stock, and being supported by angle figures with lineaments and vests typical of page boys, young servers of the noble family. This, together with others of which some fragments of decoration can be seen, probably constituted the joining element between the upper part of a pillar and an architrave. The Castle was partially reconstructed between the 1570 and 1575 and is precisely in that form that has arrived up today. Of particular importance are the two salons with frescos of Sixteenth and Seventeenth century, depicting the Myth of Daedalus and Icarus, the Myth of Fetonte, the Myth of the Hours, the Allegories of the Day and the Night, a chimney engraved in Renaissance style and a statue of Ebe of Canova school. In the adjacent living room, close to the central salon, is then represented the protection of the Virgin in the liberation of Bonifacio Roero from the prison during the Crusades. Fascinating and discrete is the small sacred church inside the Castle, a place of purification and prayer, that seems extrapolated from time. The library, a pearl of culture, contains books of medicine, literature and philosophy dating back to the Sixteenth century. It contains the history inside the history.

The Castle is linked, then, to a curious episode told in the book “Storia e leggenda dei tesori nascosti nei castelli piemontesi” (“History and legend of treasures hidden in Piedmont castles”) by Alberto Fenoglio. Here it is told that, some years ago, the librarian of baron Winterman, while organizing some books, noticed that the upper cover of the rebinding of a volume was double thick than its lower part. Thus, he decided to cut the leather to unveil the mystery, and from that hiding a parchment paper came out upon which unknown signs were traced. With the permission of the baron and the aid of a university professor, he ascertained that those signs could be deciphered through the indications coming from the texts of occult philosophies. It was discovered, then, that some Spanish people, while retiring from Monferrato, once arrived on a small hill in view of the river Po had to search for a refuge in the woods to hide the loot they brought with themselves. It was a real treasure that should have been buried among four oaks, a tower and antique walls, on a small hill over a village. The librarian and the professor understood that they should find that place.

They studied the itinerary of these people, and considering that some objects in the loot were sacred, they concluded that it could not arrive elsewhere than in an abbey in Monferrato; then, following the hills and the course of the river Po, the researchers caught sight of the tower of Monteu that remembered the one cited in the document. The excavations then started but soon were interrupted, because the Baron ought to move away for business and so the means to finance such a difficult venture faulted. In this way nowadays, the mystery of the hidden treasure is still not unveiled. In order to try to understand what is the Castle, close your eyes and imagine to walk through its rooms, in the living rooms, in the gardens; admire the fresco, the statues, the antique books. Lights get on and the music starts to play, the ancient owners revive. We go back to the times of Barbarossa.

We are back in the Middle Ages. Between legend and reality, this is the Castle of Monteu Roero, its history, its life. A centuries-long life, a living history, to remember, to be told. The fascination of mystery, the beauty of reality.

Between myth and reality, this is the Monteu Roero Castle, its history, its life. A life centuries long, a living story, to remember and to tell. The charm of its mystery, the beauty of its reality.

It is this that, in 2012, led the Berta family to buy the castle: the love of history, of beautiful things of value, the love for the area. Lovers of the challenges and continual growth, Gianfranco and Enrico have no doubt about purchasing this wonderful piece of history. Aware that change is the only constant factor, they have decided to use the Castle as a museum, thus creating a Museum within the Museum. The rooms are painted, returned to their original splendour; for the first time they are open to the public, they are revealed, they are shown as never before, and timidly boast of their beauty.

Subsequently the Berta family decided to dedicate a collection of products, as tradition will have it, to the new arrival: a way of including it in the Grappa Family. The “Monte Acuto” was therefore created: a grappa aged in small barrels of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Arneis; the “Mito delle Ore” the grape distillate, and the “Favola Mia” absinthe. Three surprises: surprises for Christmas 2012.