Fossano and its imposing castle

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It owes its popularity and traces of its past to its castle. It presents itself with a fascinating historic centre full of historical buildings and churches, but what characterised. above all, by its positioning on a natural terrace, which gives you the possibility of excursions into the green of the surrounding countryside.

Among the evocative traditions that enrich the history of the city of Fossano, the “Giostra of the Goose” certainly stands out for its originality. Every year, six villages of Fossano, and more precisely the Borgo Vecchio, the Borgo Salice, the Borgo Piazza, the Borgo S. Antonio, the Borgo San Bernardo and the Borgo Nuovo, each distinguished by an animal-symbol, take part in a competition that includes ancient characteristic games, including the bow shooting and the cutting of the goose head by a running rider. The fascinating representation is accompanied by a parade, strictly in costume, and by the flag-wavers that populate the streets of Fossano.

The castle

A castle that appears from afar with its tall and linear towers, it is an open page of a history  accessible to everyone, in the evening and in the morning, in summer and in winter. With the passing of time many have been constructed, which are increasingly radiating into the greenery of the countryside.

This city has in its castle an imposing symbol and was once called “Fons Sana”, in Italian Fonte Sana, from which the name of Fossano was formed by abbreviation.

In the nineteenth century, Fossano was a substantial agglomeration, which had fertile fields and produced in the industrial sector, just like today, making due proportions.

The origin of Fossano is very ancient: it was founded at the end of August 1236, on a hill overlooking the Stura stream, not far from Cuneo and Mondovì, in an area where a modest sized fortified building, dating back to the 12th century, already stood. In December of the same year it was already defended by walls and ditches. The villages that together with their inhabitants contributed to its foundation were: Romanisio, Salmorre, Ricrosio, soon followed by other neighbours.

Fortified from the beginning the town of Fossano sided with the league of Alba, Cuneo, Mondovì, Bene and Savigliano against Asti in 1240, but, defeated, it had to swear allegiance to the enemy. Like Cuneo, in 1259, it opened its doors to the Angioini but its possession interested to Asti and the Saluzzo, that took advantage of the weakness of the adversary to take it back. Carlo Il d’Angiò seized it again, but Fossano, a rebel against the Angevins, gave himself to the Marquis of Saluzzo, who could not defend the place and soon returned it to the Prince of Achaia: it was May 5, 1314. Ten years later the Acaja, to consolidate their dominion, demolished the old castle and started a new one. At the end of the works, which lasted until 1332, the construction was in the shape of a quadrilateral, with three floors, with four towers at the sides, around a deep moat with a drawbridge, and beyond the moat, for further protection, walls and ramparts .

In 1418, after the death of Ludovico, the branch of the Acaia was extinguished: castle and town passed to Amedeo VIII of Savoy, who every year or two appointed a ducal vicar with the task of collecting taxes and administering justice. In 1500 Duke Filiberto of Savoy assigned the castle to Aunt Bona, widow of Galeazzo Sforza, who died there in 1503: the fortification thus returned under the direct rule of the Savoy. In 1536, during the siege of the French, the Fossanesi, barricaded in the castle, under the command of Obertino Tesauro, resisted until the arrival of the reinforcements, that is, of the Spanish troops under the command of Antonio De Leiva. In 1562 the duke Emanuele Filiberto moved there in a critical moment with his wife Margherita di Valois, with his son Carlo Emanuele I and with the whole court, because he considered the fortification solid and able to offer safe protection. Here he signed in November of the same year the famous treaty with the King of France, passed into history as «Treaty of Fossano», with which he regained Turin and other fortified towns. Actually the agreement had already been reached on August 8, only that the evacuation of the French troops was delayed under the pretext that for several months the soldiers had not been paid and their dismissal would have caused serious disorders. The French garrison from Turin came out on December 12, Emanuele Filiberto returned to it and, in 1566, he gave Fossano the title of City as a loyalty prize. Meanwhile, in the castle, refurbishment works were carried out, which continued in 1585 and in 1594 with the presence of the Fossano architect Alessandro Tesauro. In 1600 and in the following years Carlo Emanuele lived there; then between 1643 and 1645 the Duchess Cristina with her son Carlo Emanuele II. During this time the castle lived its period of worldliness.

Once the social and cultural interlude had ended, the castle was used as a Waldensian prison and, at the end of the 18th century, became a barracks: to better adapt it to this function, the construction of a large building  was added. Later, part of the castle’s premises were used as the headquarters of the veterinary high school. The various functions, which were assigned to it in the course of the centuries, had required the erection of partitions in vast salons, the creation of superstructures, while the double lancet windows were quietly sacrificed, furniture was destroyed and paintings were hidden under the plaster . To remind him of the current aspect, that is to say, to bring it back to the primitive lines, the Superintendence of Monuments worked for a long time, overcoming many difficulties. Today the restoration allows us to admire a castle of an imposing beauty, sober and severe of the past.

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