Millesimo Travel Guide

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The main town in the upper Val Bormida, on the right branch of the Bormida from which it takes its name. It partly retains its medieval aspect and is dominated by the ruins of the castle. Already inhabited in the Roman era, the name of Millesimo appeared in tenth-century diplomas, but it then went into decline as a consequence of frequent raids by the Saracens. In 1206 special privileges and exemptions granted by the Del Carretto led to the economic revival of the settlement, which was fortified and ringed with walls. It became a possession of the Asti in 1260 and was occupied by the Visconti of Milan in the fifteenth century. Later (1659) it came under Spanish rule. The Savoy took possession of it on two occasions, in 1713 and 1736. After the battle of Montenotte in 1796, Napoleon’s troops defeated the Austrian and Piedmontese forces here, opening the way to Piedmont. Surviving structures from the medieval period include the ruins of the Del Carretto castle and, incorporated into the Villa Centurione, the remains of the Romanesque cloister that was originally part of the Benedictine abbey of Santo Stefano, founded in 1216. The parish church of Santa Maria extra Muros still presents Romanesque forms: dating from the eleventh century with fifteenth century alterations, it has a four-story campanile and an interior divided into a nave and two aisles. The medieval bridge over the Bormida is of great interest. It has a span attributable to the twelfth century on which stands a battlemented tower with two archways built in the fourteenth century. The palace of the Del Carretto, now the town hall, is of sixteenth-century origin. The shrine of the Madonna del Deserto (http://digilander.libero.it/desertodimillesimo), on a central plan with a tall dome, dates from 1726 but was rebuilt a century later. The nature reserve of Bric Tana is located near Millesimo. A center of mechanical engineering, it concentrates its cultural and sporting activities in July, with the concerts, theatrical performances, contests and shows of the “Luglio Millesimese.”
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