Cortemilia, upstream from the confluence of the Uzzone and Bormida di Millesimo rivers, is an important Upper Langa hub and commercial crossroads. The picturesque porticoed central streets still reflect the medieval layout.
Cortemilia is positioned within a splendid natural amphitheatre formed by the hills, which show the signs of human intervention with their famous terraces made of Langa stone. These terraces define the landscape and allow the cultivation of grapevines up the slopes.
The remains of the medieval fortifications are very scenic. The tall circular tower that rises up majestically can be seen from any point in the town. The fortified complex, located on a hill near the built-up area, can be reached via a little road that climbs up from the houses. Built in the 12th century, Cortemilia’s castle is one of the most significant examples of a fortified structure that uses the original model of an enclosure with a tower.
The quality of the construction is exceptional, and it was already mentioned as a castrum (fortified structure) in certain documents from the 12th century, but the most significant modifications from a defensive point of view were made in the 13th century, like the outer stone wall with a continuous walkway on top of a series of arches.
Dating the tower is more problematic. The technique and organization seem to place it in the 12th century, but this would be incompatible with the period when cylindrical towers were common in the Cuneo area (mid 13th century). The theory tends to be that an archaized architectural language was adopted for the tower.
The last modifications were made to the structure in the 14th century; the complex was then gradually abandoned, and suffered serious damage during the 16th-century wars.