According to some theories, Cortemilia’s origins could date back to Roman times. Archaeological discoveries in the surrounding area include interesting funerary epigraphs, now preserved in the “F. Eusebio” municipal museum in Alba.
Cortemilia, considered the “hazelnut capital”, is one of the Langhe’s most important agricultural and economic hubs.
Date: 12th-13th centuries.
The current urban layout is divided in two by the Bormida di Millesimo river. The town offers various cultural sights, but by crossing the bridge over the Uzzone river and turning left, you will reach one of the most prized architectural gems in the Langa around Alba, the old pieve (parish church) of Cortemilia, dedicated to St Mary. The church is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by vineyards and stillness.
The building can be dated to between the 12th and 13th centuries. During the 17th and 18th centuries, some modifications were made: the elimination of a side nave, which reduced the space, and the elevation of the apse.
The church still preserves very interesting Romanesque architectural elements, in particular the bell tower, the apse and a double-lancet window in the façade. The bell tower has single-lancet windows, and is divided into five levels by rather irregular orders of Lombard bands.
The semi-circular apse was built in the early 13th century, though its elevation at a later date is evident. The quality of the construction is good, the stones are arranged in a uniform and orderly way and the demarcation line between the two parts is represented by a series of blind arches. Lastly, the entrance side has a lunette above the portal containing a marble high relief depicting the Virgin Mary Crowned. Further up is a double-lancet window with stone friezes, already leaning towards the Gothic style.
The terraces behind the church represent one of the most interesting aspects of Cortemilia’s landscape. Promoted and preserved by the Ecomuseum of Terraces and Vines, they are the result of centuries of integration between people and nature, reflecting the wise use of natural resources.