This scenically positioned Roero castle is one of Piedmont’s most representative medieval buildings, both as an architectural model and because of its perfectly preserved state.
The exact date when the castle was founded is unclear, but it is known that a fortification existed here prior to the year 1000.
The bishops of Asti ruled Monticello until 1372, and under their dominion the feud was governed by vassals. The Bishop of Asti had installed the vassal Ludovico Malabalia in the castle, but he became arrogant and tyrannical. In 1372 the angry bishop asked for help from the Roero counts, Asti nobles and lords of Monteu and among the most illustrious and powerful feudal lords of the time. The Roeros rushed to his aid with their troops. They laid siege to the castle and conquered it, freeing the people from Malabalia’s violence.
After the victory, the bishop gave the Monticello feud to the Roeros, its saviours, out of gratitude.
The imposing four-sided stronghold rises on bastions, once surrounded by a moat. The façade is defined by two towers, a round tower on the right corner and a square tower. Built in exposed brick (using 5 million bricks), the castle consists of a ground floor and two higher floors with the upper part topped by Ghibelline battlements protecting the guards’ walkway, which runs along the whole perimeter of the castle.
Major renovations to the castle were carried out at the end of the 14th century by Percivalle Roero, who provided it with new defences.
Later, in 1785, Count Francesco Gennaro Roero, Viceroy of Sardinia, made some modifications to the castle on the occasion of his marriage to Paola del Carretto: the drawbridge was removed, the level of the embankment was lowered, beautiful gardens replaced the bastions and moats and the interior was redecorated.
Monticello castle has had the good fortune of being owned and inhabited by the family of the Roero counts for 600 years.
Visitors first pass through the Italian-style gardens around the building. Designed by Kurten, the Savoy court architect, they still have their original snail-shaped layout. The ground floor is then accessed via a monumental stone staircase.
Ancient medieval armour can be found in the armoury, as well as a valuable collection of weapons from different historical periods. The underground vaults, the servants’ domain, have in the past been used as both cellars and prisons.
After passing in front of the family chapel, the round tower’s double flight of stairs leads to the magnificent gallery lined with family portraits.
The family’s historic archive is kept in the billiards room. On the walls hang two silk tapestries which belonged to crusaders from the Roero family.
The adjacent small drawing room is finely furnished in typically baroque style. Having remained unchanged since 1300, the internal courtyard is of particular interest, with its arched windows, arched arcade and octagonal tower.
Local sights: Natività di Maria Vergine, Immacolata Concezione, SS. Antonio e Lorenzo, S. Grato, Maria Ausiliatrice, San Bernardino, San Ponzio frescoes, ethnographic museum
In the area: Alba, Bra, Cherasco, Langhe and Roero castles, wineries
Typical products: wines (Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC and Roero DOCG, Barbera d’Alba DOC, Dolcetto d’Alba DOC, Bonarda DOC, Roero Arneis DOCG, Favorita DOC), Robiola d’Alba cheese, white Alba truffles, fruit and vegetables
Event rental, guest-rooms and Conti Roero restaurant.