The area that surrounds the old medieval tower is probably the first place in which people started living: the Liguri before and then the Romans. The presence of the Romans is witnessed in the relics of some foundations of a temple dedicated to Jupiter Capitoline, where, in medieval times, was erected the San Gaudenzio abbey. The Benedictine Monks introduced the vine cultivation in their properties of about 2000 giornate (700 hectars). They were all in the Santo Stefano Belbo county, at the feet of the Moncucco hill, whose name derives from the old celtic and it means “rounded top”. On this panoramic and suggestive hill there’s the “Madonna della neve” sanctuary.
From this viewpoint you can see the Valdivilla hill and, on the way going, you can spot the San Maurizio monastery, which later became the residence of Incisa Beccaria family.
The political and religious centre of the town in medieval times was instead at the bottom of S. Libera hill. Here you can see the Santi Giacomo e Cristoforo church from the XIV century, that was at the beginning the Centro Studi and now the Cesare Pavese Foundation seat. After the XI century, Santo Stefano Belbo was part of the Loreto committee, of Aleramic ancestry. The fief became a Monferrato marquees possession and in 1311 was given to Manfredo IV, Saluzzo marquees, who in 1337 passed it to the Scarampi family, noble patricians from Asti. Actually the municipal statutes date back to this period.
In 15151 the fief was given to the Incisa and Corti merquees by Guglielmo IX di Monferrato marquees, validated by Carlo V emperor on the 21st june 1536. After that it was Beccaria Grattarola Incisa family property, as a donation on the 20th june 1717, confirmed by king Vittorio Amedeo II di Savoia in the month of October of the same year.
The ruins of the ancient castle, that is the tower dominating the town, remind its destruction, in 1635, by the Spanish and the Austrians, who fought for the possession of the area.
The village was theatre of many bloody fights because of its strategic position and its important commercial resourcefulness. After the Cherasco treaty in 1631, Santo Stefano Belbo, like the majority of the Piedmont territory, becomes part of the Regno di Sardegna, until the declaration of the Italian Republic.Visit the website of Santo Stefano Belbo town hall.
Some pictures of Santo Stefano Belbo
Pierluigi Vaccaneo’s pictures.