Lower and middle valley

Media e Bassa Valle - profilo

Lower and middle valley

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BALANGERO

Balangero’s territory (440 m) is situated between the Stura left bank, Monte Giovetto and Bric Forcola, this being the watershed between the Corio and Coassolo villages. From a morphological point of view, Balangero has a flat area and a very rich in mineral foothill area.

The name has not a sure origin. Some scholars think it derives from “Balantum Geruli”. Others believe it originates from “Berengario II”, Marquise of Ivrea and later King of Italy, who established here a military camp (Castrum Berengarii), mentioned in some 1151 documents. Celts at first inhabited the Balangero territory.  Nevertheless, finds from a Regione Murassi’s burial, now preserved in the Turin Museum of Greek-Roman antiquities, show evidence of Roman influence. Also the commemorative stone walled in on the Parish church stairs is another proof of Roman presence.

In Roman times, Balangero was a part of Germagnano municipality that was dismantled in the Middle Age by the Longobards. The already mentioned King Berengario II of Ivrea had a castle built as military protection against Hungarian invasion. During the fourteenth century Balangero was besieged four times. The last siege was won by Amedeo VII of Savoy, “Conte Rosso” (the Red Count). During the XVIIth century, the feud passed on to the Provana of Leinì. In the next century, it became state councilor Lelio Cauda’s country house and, during the  “principisti” e “madamisti” (Prince or Lady followers) Civil War, it was destroyed.

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CAFASSE

Cafasse (408 m) is situated on the mount Basso and mount Corno slopes. The Torino-Lanzo county road crosses its territory and it is an obligated passage for people coming from Venaria and wanting to enter the Lanzo Valleys. The village is split in two areas: a flat one, spreading along the old Lanzo road, including the administrative center and another, mainly on the plateau, including the Monasterolo hamlet.

The name etymology could be the Latin word “cafaxie”, meaning a scattered group of houses built on territories gained to the Stura. Cafasse history is almost unknown up to the eleventh century. The Corrado II Salico’s (1026) and Arrigo III’s (1046) imperial certificates are the first documents in which the village is mentioned.

The first settlers probably arrived in those years, during the Mathi Benedictines’ ruling. Up to 1742, year in which Cafasse became an independent municipality, its history intertwined with Mathi’s and Balangero’s. Monasterolo had a different history. The oldest document in which it is mentioned is by the bishop Majnardi. He includes the Santa Maria church of Monasterolo as one of the Turin San Solutore Abbey properties. Frederick II, successor to Frederick I (Babarossa), granted Monasterolo as feud to the Baratonia Viscounts. In the XIVth century the feud passed on the Acaja Princes and, in the XVth century, to the Arcourt family. In the XVIth century, Monasterolo became an independent municipality until 1928, year in which it was joined to Cafasse.

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GERMAGNANO

The origin of the village’s name could be from the words (glarea magna), suggesting the large gravel ground on Monte Basso slopes, or from the noble Roman name “Germanius”. Given the Roman artifacts found, the place could be identified with the Roman Forum Germanorum settlement. A second theory is that of a village along the ancient road to the Autaret and Arnas mountain passes on the way to Gaul. The name Germagnano is mentioned for the first time in some 1304 documents. As from the XIth century onward, Germagnano’s history is bound to the Baratonia Viscounts’ and the Lanzo Lords’. San Mauro di Pulcherada Abbey and Giacomo of Stura granted several Lanzo Valleys territories to both above-mentioned families. Nevertheless, it seems that Germagnano, although belonging to Lanzo’s Lords, as from the XIIth or XIIIth centuries, was an independent municipality. In 1622 a fire almost completely destroyed the village and Duke Carlo Emanuele I relieved the inhabitants from all taxes. This event is represented in the village banner by the lion carrying a flame. In 1725 the Lanzo Marquise’s territory was taken apart and King Vittorio Amedeo II granted Germagnano’s “countship” to lieutenant colonel Luigi Ignazio Faussone, governor of the Bard Fortress.

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LANZO

Lanzo (515 m) is a characteristic medieval town, located on Monte Buriasco, at the confluence of two rivers, Stura and Tesso. Its position has always made it, and still is, a forced passage for whoever wants to move from the homonymous Valleys to the plain and vice versa.

Margherita of Savoy, Amedeo V’s daughter, in 1296 married to Giovanni of Monferrato had a very important role in Lanzo’s history.  She was the Landlady of Lanzo, Ciriè and Caselle territories. During her ruling, the Lanzo Castle was reinforced. Her edicts were famous for their liberalism.  At Margherita’s death, the nephew Amedeo VI, «Conte Verde» (the Green Count), inherited Lanzo. In the sixteenth century, the French attacked and destroyed the Lanzo castle. When Emanuele Filiberto regained Piedmont, he granted Lanzo as feud to Filippo d’Este. Following the civil war between “principisti” e “madamisti” (Prince or Lady followers), Vittorio Amedeo II split and sold the Lanzo Marquise territory in several counties, so as to restore duchy finances. Lanzo was sold to Giuseppe Ottaviano Chacherano della Rocca, who owned it until 1792. During the Napoleonic period, Lanzo became subprefecture county seat.  From then onwards, Lanzo’s history coincided with Italy’s.

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MEZZENILE

Mezzenile is situated on the Stura right bank, on a lush plateau reaching out to the foot of Rocca Moross and Uja Calcante.

The name may originate from the late Medieval Latin word “mansionile” meaning farmhouse with a plot of land; this could suggest a medieval settlement. In the XIth century, Mezzenile, Balangero, Monastero, Ceres, Ala, Chialamberto, Cantoira, Monasterolo were properties of the Benedictine monks of the San Mauro Pulcherada Abbey. A Mathi priory managed these territories. The same monks founded or rebuilt many of these villages. The oldest document concerning Mezzenile is the Guglielmo VII of Monferrato’s mining claim for local mines exploitation. In those days Mezzenile already was an important village. It had a parish church and was seat for many handcrafts linked to mining, such as nail production. As a matter of fact, in old times Mezzenile, Pessinetto and Traves were well known for their nail production. In the XIVth century the Savoy Family replaced the Santa Maria di Pulcherada Monastery in the management of the territory. After Vittorio Amedeo II splitted the Lanzo Marquise territories, Mezzenile passed on to the Beltramo of Monastrolo family and, in the XVIIIth century, to the Counts Francesetti. Count Luigi Francesetti is remembered for having written a travel through the Lanzo Valleys journal.

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PESSINETTO

Pessinetto is on the slopes of mount Orasco, on the Stura left bank.

The name probably originates from “piscina”, rich stream fishing pool. The first official document mentioning Pessinetto is the allocation act of the territory to some valley inhabitants by the Guglielmo VII Marquise of Monferrato, at the time Lord of Lanzo, provided they would build a melting forge. The hamlet was therefore named Forno di Pessinetto. In 1437, Ludovico Prince of the Savoy renewed the grant in his father Amedeo’s name and in 1507, Carlo III Duke of Savoy renewed it again. During the XVIIIth century Pessinetto was granted as feud to the titled Craveri of Bra family. When the territories of the Lanzo Marquise were split, the feud passed on to Beltramo of Monasterolo and then to the Francesetti family. The village kept growing due to metallurgy: at first hosting forge and later on side activity workers’ homes. Forging and particularly nails production lasted through centuries. At the end of the XIXth century thirty, five forges were present on Pesinetto’s territory. At the beginning of the XXth century, the industrialization development brought the centennial handcrafting forging activity to an end. In 1896, a new manufacturing activity was born along the Stura stream: the Lanzo Valley’s Cotton Mill. The mill was then closed between the late sixties and early seventies.

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TRAVES

Traves (628 m) is a small village on the slopes of Monte Calcante, at the confluence of the two Stura branches, one coming from Val Grande – Val d’Ala and the other from Val di Viù. The village’s name could have originated from the word “entraives” (between waters – confluence) or “travi” (logs originally used to cross the river).

From the beginning of the XVIIth century, Traves was part of the Lanzo municipality. It was then incorporated in the Germagnano municipality for a few years. At last it became an independent municipality. In 1724, as consequence of splitting up of the Lanzo Marquises territories, Traves was granted as feud to the lawyer Michele Rebuffo of Villafranca. In 1865, eight years after the opening of the Germagnano – Pessinetto county road, a two irregular arches bridge was built over the stream. This put an end to the many problems Traves had to face for centuries. Proof of this fact is a document which clearly states that Traves inhabitants were dispensed with night watch duties to Lanzo fortress and castle since there was not a safe bridge or gangway to cross the Stura stream.  Traves is well known for iron craftsmanship which was brought on until World War II. At the beginning of the path dedicated to Piergiorgio Frassati a nail forge is still visible.

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