Municipalities of the Alta Langa: Cissone

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Situato all’estremità occidentale della dorsale collinare che s’innalza sino a Serravalle Langhe, il paese domina una piccola valle coperta di boschi e scavata dal torrente Riavolo.

Cissone rises at 661 meters above sea level, on the road that climbs from Dogliani to Serravalle Langhe. The territory of the municipality is between 417 and 682 meters above sea level.

The Roman origins of the town which seem to be confirmed by the finding, in the local cemetery, of a funerary stele now preserved in the premises of the Town Hall, suggest that the name of Cissone derives from the Roman surname Civicius or Civicionis.

What to see

The parish church of Santa Lucia

The parish church of Cissone has been under the religious  lead of Saluzzo until 1817. On 17th July 1817,  Pope Pius VII issued with a papal bull the change of ownership in favour of the diocese of Alba. Anciently the parish church was dedicated to the Sant’Anastasio, but we do not know exactly where it was located. The current church has three naves, no lateral apses  and three spans. The apse is preceded by a long presbytery and covered by a lowered dome. The three naves have a cross vault, except in the first span from the entrance. On the left wall from the major altar there are two hanging painting without frames; the first one represents the Virgin with Santa Maria Maddalena and Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, holding a bed sheet portraying San Domenica De Soriano with a brother; the second one portrays the two Saints and it is signed  “Geovosius Rodes / Venetus Fecit”. On the right wall of the major altar, instead, a big ex voto represents the village invested by a catastrophe and saved by Santa Lucia. Particularly precious is the pipe organ of the parish church, constructed in 1879

The former church of the Confraternita dei Disciplinati

The church is located in the historical centre of Cissone, just next to the parish church of Santa Lucia. We do not know exactly when it was built, but approximately it was between XV and XVI century. The only certain date is 1771, when it was completely restored, the year is still visible on the façade, over the portal. The archpriest Carlo Manera, in his review, written on 4th November 1828, sustains that in the district of the parsonage there are three churches and a the Oratorio of the Confraternity of White Disciplinants. About this, the document states the presence of an altar dedicated to the beheading of San Giovanni Battista. Moreover it underlines the presence of five companies, founded in the parsonage of Cissone, among those there is the one of the White Disciplinants. The church was donated to the municipality of Cissone, under permission of the bishop of Alba on 24th February 1984: at the time the roof was partly destroyed as the perimeter walls. The first restoration saved the building, which was then destined to host events and exhibitions. A new restoration is in progress to make the church a perfect place to move the municipal library and the council chamber.

The Romanic tombstone

Lapide romanica

The Roman origins of the village seem to be confirmed by the finding, in the local cemetery, of a funeral stele, today conserved in the city hall. This let us think that the name Cissone comes  from the Roman surname Civicius or Civicionis. 

The cippus is made of sandstone, 1.40 metres high, 0.64 metres large and 0.31 metres thick; over the tympanum there are two cornucopias; in the middle a rosette with four petals, alternating by many others smaller. The letters of the incision are 3-5 centimetres high: the epigraphists date it to the II century B.C. The first one who mentioned the tombstone was the Count Baldassarre Vassallo di Castiglione Falletto, he saw it in 1788 and described it in his manuscript “Memorie storiche del borgo di Dogliani” (Historical Memories of Dogliani). In 1869 Giovanni Francesco Muratori included it at n. 49 of his book about the Roman inscriptions of the Vagienni. He gave also a new interpretations of the stele and wrote: «Simple and loving inscription, unpublished before, it was found near a chapel in the cemetery of Cissone, near Dogliani..». The tombstone is a memorial stone dedicated to Quinto Virio Quieto, by his father Quinto Virio Valente. In the 80s the archaeological superintendence of Piedmont established the transfer from the chapel to the city hall to guarantee a better conservation. The aim of the municipality is to put the stele in the church of the Disciplined after the restoration.  

The chapel of Pianezza (chapel of the Madonna della Neve)

The first document about this chapel is conserved by the curia of Alba, the document is a review of the priest don Carlo Manera, sent to the bishop on 4th November 1828. The chapel of the Madonna della Neve, named chapel of Pianezza and Borgata Boeri, is half and one kilometre from the parish church; to reach it there are only some tortuous paths. Here are celebrated the “masses of the cross”: eighteen read and the others of the novena. It is not dedicated to any Saints in particular.  

The cemetery church “Natività di Maria Vergine”

The cemetery church (it was the parish church and it is mentioned as “cemetery church” only after 1644), is dedicated to the nativity of Mary, previously it was entitled to Santa Maria di Loreto. On the portal there is still a sandstone monogram (written in gothic, “IHS”) to remember the passage of San Bernardo da Siena and, inside, there is a painting realised at the end of 1400 by Antonio Bianchetti da Cherasco (known as “Bianchetto”). The fresco of the cemetery church of Cissone, even if it is incomplete in the higher part, is very important because it is the only figurative document signed by the artist, who probably realised also the Madonna and child in the parish church of Murazzano.

The building, with only one nave, has two wide spans, a third area which is a sort of raised apse, it has not a real one: the wall at the bottom has a votive stucco shrine in the middle with two columns framing the fresco by Bianchetti. The altar is in masonry, with some stucco decorations and a dry painting with faux marbles; it is still possible to see also some flower decorations and trop l’oeil windows. The exterior has recently been restored and it has been improved also the static of the walls.

The cemetery church preserved the Roman age tombstone, which seems to have been found in Villa.

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