On the left bank of the Bormida river, picturesquely surrounded by trees, lies the pieve (parish church) of Santa Maria dell’Acqua Dolce (St Mary of the Fresh Water). Commonly known by the name of “Madonna di San Biagio”, the sanctuary, very dear to the hearts of Monesiglio’s inhabitants, was built between the 10th and 11th centuries. More than once it is cited in Ottonian documents as “plebs de Langa”.
Date: late 10th-early 11th century.
The construction style is archaic Romanesque and the building is in an excellent state of preservation, especially following recent restoration works. The façade is gabled, with Lombard bands alternated with pilaster strips, which extend into the top section of the clerestory.
The end of the building has three semi-circular apses, also decorated with Lombard bands: the central one also has a series of blind arches. The interior has three naves, supported by pillars, remoulded in the baroque period.
The restoration works have also brought to light valuable Romanesque-Byzantine frescoes in the central apse, probably dating back to the 12th century and depicting a Christ Pantocrator surrounded by the symbols of the four Evangelists. On the right wall you can see a Madonna with Child surrounded by St John the Baptist and St Anthony the Abbot (probably dating from the 15th century).
Thanks to its architectural and artistic qualities, the Monesiglio church is one of the most significant Romanesque buildings in the area. So harmoniously and picturesquely positioned within this part of the valley, it contributes to creating a landscape of exceptional beauty.