San Marzano Oliveto
|San Marzano Oliveto|
|Comune di San Marzano Oliveto|
|Frazioni||Corte, Italiana, Leiso, Saline|
|• Mayor||Giovanni Giorgio Scagliola|
|• Total||9.7 km2 (3.7 sq mi)|
|Elevation||300 m (1,000 ft)|
|Population (31 May 2007)|
|• Density||110/km2 (290/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Saint Mary Magdalene|
|Saint day||July 22|
San Marzano Oliveto is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Asti in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) southeast of Turin and about 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast of Asti.
- 1 Geography
- 2 Demographic evolution
- 3 History
- 4 Heraldry
- 5 Main sights
- 6 Economy
- 7 Tourism
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The landscape of San Marzano Oliveto is reminiscent of the hilltop villages of Tuscany and Umbria with its almost mystical calm, an irresistible attraction for foreigners, many of whom live here for at least part of the year.
Among these is the German painter Viktor Müllerstaedt, whose works, exhibited in various local exhibitions, are landscapes heavily influenced by 15th-century Italian art.
San Marzano was named after St. Marcian of Tortona, the first Bishop of Tortona (or perhaps a bishop of Ravenna), who was martyred in 2nd century by the Roman emperor Hadrian.
The suffix "Oliveto" was added in 1862 because olives were said to have prospered there in ancient times. This hypothesis is supported by the existence of an ancient olive press in nearby Santo Stefano Belbo, and by the fact that olives continue to thrive there, although not in any great quantity, to the present day.
The first human settlers to the area came from Liguria, but the first extant buildings and documentary evidence of settlement date from Roman times.
Tradition has it that the four towers, now collapsed, of the present castle were built by the Romans.
The Middle Ages
In 1280 Bonifacio Asinari, a rich merchant from Asti, left his wealth to his children, Bonifacio and Tommaso, who subsequently became the owners of San Marzano.
A legacy of the Asinari family can be found in the name of one of San Marzano Oliveto's valleys - the valle Asinari.
In 1771, Philip Valentino Asinari became the first Marquis of San Marzano and Caraglio; his son Filippo Maria Antonio became a State Councilor, sent by Napoleon Bonaparte as ambassador to Berlin. In 1808 he became a Count of the Empire, and then in 1813 a senator and regent of Piedmont.
On 24 and 25 December 1943, arriving first from Nizza Monferrato and later from Asti, soldiers of the Republic of Salò combed the area, searching every house for partisans. No partisans were found, but four hostages were taken and sent to Asti.
The old emblem of the municipality is formed by a crenellated tower, topped by a crown (gold on blue) with the motto "Virtus addidit". It incorporates the coat of arms of the Asinari family, lords of San Marzano between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Cited by Alfieri as "San Marzano of Acquosana", the first documents that mention the castle date from the birth of the Contado of Acquosana - the ancient territory of Acqui Terme.
The castle, probably of Roman origin, has a square tower that was added by the Asinari family. The tower has four square crenellations, one in each corner: the embrasures of one of them can still be seen today.
After the Spanish occupation of 1655, the castle returned to Asinari control. It was subsequently transformed into a country residence.
The town hall dates from 1889. It is a multipurpose building that houses local government offices, a primary school, and the post office.
Parish Church of San Marziano
The most notable place of worship is the church of San Marziano, built in classic Renaissance style with a neoclassical nave, presbytery and choir. Located in front of the castle, it was founded in the thirteenth century, enlarged from 1758 to 1763, and restored in 1843.
The paintings within date mainly from the nineteenth century, and are attributed to the school of Lorenzo Ivaldi, who was active in Piedmont at that time.
Built under the stables of the castle, the former church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, now deconsecrated, was built at the beginning of the eighteenth century. After the middle of the eighteenth century it was expanded, and a sacristy was added.
Funded by an EU grant in 2003, the building was restored and reconstructed under the guidance on the architect Maurizio Testa. It is now the home of the All-Purpose Cultural Center (Centro Culturale Polivalente), opened 22 October 2005 that also houses the town library.
The Evangelical Methodist Church
The San Marzano Oliveto Methodist Church was founded with the assistance of Methodists from America, who gained their first followers in the region in 1886. The large building features spacious cellars, recently restored, and an impressive bell tower; at one time it also housed a library and an elementary school.
On a side wall of the hall of worship, a marble plaque commemorates the inauguration of the church with the following words (in translation):
"This Methodist Episcopal Church was built with the generous help of the brothers of America and San Marzano, under the auspices of the former president Dr. William Burt and the direction of pastors G. Pons, P. Gay and P. Innocenti, and dedicated to the Glory of God, September 20 1897"
Other places of worship
San Marzano has five other churches of historical significance:
- San Rocco, in the Chierina region
- Santissima Annunziata, in the Corte region
- Santa Libera, in the Marziano region, which takes its name from an earlier seventeenth century construction on Monte Oliveto that no longer exists.
The economy of San Marzano Oliveto is based on agriculture.
The arable land constitutes 75% of the total area; about 300 people are engaged in agricultural work. 220 hectares are dedicated to fruit production - particularly apples and grapes, for which the mild climate, the topology and the soil composition are especially favourable.
After a period of crisis due to competition from the north eastern regions of Italy, apple production has recovered well. The annual production of apples is about 40 thousand quintals, 80% of which are of the Golden Delicious variety.
A few years ago, a group of San Marzano producers formed a consortium to promote apples with the "Divina" brand.
San Marzano is also in the following wine-producing zones:
- Moscato d'Asti DOC
- Barbera d'Asti DOC
- Barbera del Monferrato DOC
- Cortese dell'Alto Monferrato DOC
- Freisa d'Asti DOC
The quality of the Barbera produced in the region is particularly noteworthy.
San Marzano Oliveto pays a significant role in the promotion of wine tourism in the Piedmont region. Tourists are attracted to the many wineries and vineyards in the region, many of which offer tasting facilities for visitors, and to the many restaurants that offer rare local vintages in addition to the highly renowned Piedmontese cuisine.
- All demographics and other statistics: Italian statistical institute Istat.