Castana, the medieval village and its history

The ancient medieval village in the Oltrepò hills: hints of history, art, landscape and wine tradition.

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In that geographical part of Oltrepò Pavese, properly called "Eastern", on a strip of territory between the Versa Valley to the east and the Scuropasso Valley to the west, where the hilly landscape is dominated by long rows of vineyards, lies the municipality of Castana.
The name Castana, which in its etymology is similar to that of Castagnara, that is, the first from castanea/chestnut, the second from chestnut wood, acquired importance in the thirteenth century and prevailed over that of the ancient Figaria. It can be assumed, as Cerioli affirms, to have proved that the place of Castana or Castanea was already mentioned in the map of the region compiled by the nineteenth-century historian Severino Capsoni and corresponds to a place of Roman origin with the term "ad Castaneam".
It is worth visiting Castana, a small but charming village, made up of scattered hamlets and blocks, especially to admire the ancient and charming medieval village.
In the past, the medieval castle was of great value, strategically positioned on a hill that dominated the entire valley. The village underwent ups and downs over the centuries.
It was built by the monks of S. Bartolomeo in Strada of Pavia. 
It belonged to the Piacenza countryside, but Federico Barbarossa took Castana from Piacenza and gave it to Pavia. Don Antonio Dellafiore, a native of Castana, writes that in 1200 the feudal lord imposed a too high tax on his subjects and they rebelled supported by the monks of Pavia.
At that time Castana consisted of the imposing castle covered with tiles and 16 houses with thatched roofs.
In 1290 Castana was pillaged and burned during the bloody clashes that saw the Marquis of Monferrato, the Cremonesi and the Piacentini facing each other. Castana was part of the fief of Broni, ruled by the Beccaria; with the death of Pietro Beccaria in 1531 and the extinction of the family, one of whom erected the oratory dedicated to San Carlo in the castle was given and, since San Carlo was canonized in 1610, it would appear that in that year Castana it was still a possession of the Borromeo. Later it passed to the Arrigoni and, later, to the Pallavicino, the Arrigoni-Casati, the Pessina, the Cardoli and, finally, to the baron De Ghislanzoni.

Very little remains of the original structure of the castle: only the lower part and the surrounding walls to the east since it was almost entirely rebuilt in the 1700s and transformed into a noble palace at the behest of those who were then the owners, the Pallavicino Triulzi, as it reads in the stone walled up in the castle.
The interior features valuable structures such as barrel vaults in exposed brick and decorated coffered ceilings from the 18th century.
Today it is a private residence.
It should be noted that in the vicinity of the castle there is one of the deepest wells in the area: over 80 meters.
Also worth mentioning are the beautiful Town Hall which dates back to 1880 and the Parish Church of S. Andrea which must be counted among the oldest in Oltrepò: it seems to have been built before 1000 by the monks of S. Colombano of Bobbio.
It must certainly have been redone because while before 1840 it had a single nave it later became three-aisled.
Until 1927 a characteristic crooked bell tower stood next to the church which was demolished and replaced with a straight one. The paintings placed inside are valuable. The organ built by the Serassi Brothers of Bergamo in 1864 is also very beautiful.

Castana has long been synonymous with excellent red wines such as Barbera, Bonarda, Buttafuoco, Sangue di Giuda and white wines such as Pinot and Riesling obtained from vineyards that grow generously on the hilly ridge that divides the two valleys. But among these wines only the Buttafuoco is the exclusive product of a very restricted sub-area, delimited to the territories of some municipalities viticultural of Oltrepò Pavese: Castana, Canneto Pavese, Montescano, Pietra de' Giorgi, Cigognola, Broni and Stradella precisely because the Buttafuoco is a peculiarity of some vineyards traditionally suited for exposure, position, soil and microclimate.
The name "Buttafuoco" is written in official notarial deeds of 1861 still available today.
In her house in Castana, built towards the end of the 1700s, lived the “Bianchina Alberici”, historic producer of Buttafuoco.
Her friend Macario, the well-known Turin comedian, had crowned her "queen of the Buttafuoco", but she considered herself only a simple winegrower; meanwhile his wine, with a solid red color on a purple background, a vinous bouquet and, nevertheless, subtle and consistent, a dry and frank flavor that opens in the mouth with unexpected generosity, as the well-known gastronome and oenologist Veronelli described it, after maturing in oak barrels (which was then unusual in the Oltrepò) was requested in every part of Italy and also in the world.

Pro Loco Castana
Municipality of Castana

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