Its ancient historic centre, full of houses and medieval arcades, is divided into two villages by the passage of the Bormida river. The main product is hazelnut, to which an event is dedicated the last week of August.
Traditionally the name derives from Marco Emilio Scauro’s Cohors Aemilia who set up camps here in 118 BC, but the most probable origin is from “Curtismilium” from “curtis”, a vast self-sufficient agricultural property of the early Middle Ages; in fact, Roman finds have been found. In the Middle Ages, under the lordship of the Del Carretto family, it was an independent marquisate until the beginning of the 13th century, an era to which the castle dates, which was largely destroyed by the Spanish in 1635. Cortemilia, the main commercial center of the upper Langa and Val Bormida then passed to the municipality of Asti, subsequently to the Marquis of Saluzzo who gave it to the Scarampi as a fief. In 1615 it became Savoy’s territory.
Cortemilia consists of two villages: San Michele, with the castle, and San Pantaleo, with the Madonna della Pieve.
The castle still has a long stretch of walls, a keep at the north-west end of the city walls and an imposing circular tower in a dominant position. It is built in stone, from the 13th century, marked by six bands, with some small openings.
Borgo San Michele
In Borgo San Michele there are some medieval buildings, albeit with modifications: at the bottom of Piazza Molinari, on the left, a building with ogive mullioned window and, on the right, another building with two portals, one with an architrave carved with one Annunciation and the other with a Madonna frescoed in the lunette. In Corso Einaudi, the premises of the former convent of San Francesco, founded in 1213 in memory of the Saint’s passage, are the site of conferences and shows and retain the remains of Gothic frescoes.
The hazelnut festival
One of the most loved and important typical products of Piedmont, the Piedmont Hazelnut PGI, is enhanced by an event which is enriched every year by events conquering new attendance records. Like every summer, the traditional Hazelnut Festival has been held in Cortemilia for over 60 years.
Over the course of time, this event, created to celebrate a princely product of the Langhe, has been enriched with folkloric, spectacular and cultural moments that have made it a point of reference for a very large audience, which goes beyond the borders of Piedmont.
The entire historic center is festively dressed and embellished with large installations that will stimulate the photographic shots of visitors: a wonderful hazelnut coach, a portal of sacks of hazelnuts, luminescent silhouettes of seductive fairies will peep out the windows of ancient buildings .
Some historic shop windows host bizarre artistic creations.