The ancient castle of Saliceto is located along the old “Via del Sale”, the salt road that once linked Piedmont and Liguria. The existence of a settlement on the hill, known as the Rosa, is documented to before the 10th century. It was divided into Borgovero and Borgoforte, both destroyed in the middle of the 10th century during a Saracen raid.
It belonged first to the Bishop of Savona, then the city of Asti and from 1251 to 1532 to the Del Carretto family. Charles V then gave it to the Savoys, who enfeoffed it to the Damiani family of Priocca.
In 1689 the castle was besieged by the Spanish army. When their commander, Don Martino of Aragon, was shot and killed, and the Spanish razed the building to the ground as revenge. Rebuilt once again by the Del Carrettos, in 1796 Napoleon had his headquarters here for some time.
Built as a fortress between the 12th and 13th centuries, it is currently an impressive residential structure with a trapezoid plan, reinforced by three towers at the corners. A fourth tower, traces of which can be seen on the wall, was levelled during the Spanish siege.
Though the current structure is the result of successive rebuildings, the typical features of fortified architecture can still be identified.
The castle, formerly surrounded by a moat and accessible by a drawbridge, can now be reached by the brick ramp which leads to the imposing entrance gate.
An ancient passageway, now walled up, can be seen in the south tower; it is believed to have connected the fort to the Margarita fortification, now destroyed.
The courtyard’s open gallery contains the remains of a small chapel.
The frescoes in the “Sala delle armi”, the hall of weapons, depict scenes from the life of Christ. A pictorial cycle was recently discovered in the deep niche: an Agnus Dei on the vault, with a large jewelled cross on top. Alongside are two monochrome medallions of women and, below them, the Del Carretto coat of arms. Stylistic and iconographic analysis dates it to the last decade of the 14th century.
Local sights: monumental church of S. Lorenzo with sandstone façade attributed to the school of Bramante, church of S. Martino in Lignera, Belbo Springs protected nature area
In the area: Alba, Alta Langa castles, wineries, artisan confectioners, artisan cheesemakers and cured meat producers (see Saliceto slaughterhouse)
Typical products: wines (Dolcetto d’Alba, Dolcetto dei Terrazzamenti, Alta Langa DOC), white Alba truffles, Tonda Gentile delle Langhe hazelnuts, Langa polenta cornmeal, Langhe Bianco di Spagna beans, cheeses (Murazzano DOP, Tuma Piemontese DOP, Robiola d’Alba, Langhe sheep’s tuma), nougat, hazelnut cake
Events: patron saint’s festivities dedicated to S. Lorenzo (usually between 2-10 August). During the “Notte Brava” evening the whole historical centre of the town is opened up, with the sale of local products and music in all the squares around the medieval village