MONTICELLO D’ALBA, Chapel Saint Pontius


A little over a kilometre from the old town centre of Monticello, in a dominant position, overlooking the plain is the Chapel of Saint Pontius. Before the year one thousand, the chapel was much larger than what remains today and it was the Parish to the surrounding town. Around the twelfth century, after the continuous barbarian invasions, the population moved to the foot of the castle and the area, despite remaining guarded by monks, was destined to a graveyard. The building underwent many changes over the centuries; the most consistent one shortened the width of it, laying a new facade over the ancient body. On the sides of the building however, there are still visible parts of masonry that alternate with the courses of bricks to courses of cobblestones, arranged in a herringbone pattern, probably dating back to a phase of the end of the tenth century.

The Crucifixion

Inside the chapel, you can admire the most ancient frescoes in the area of Alba. The crucifixion is in a central position, painted in the fourteenth century by an artist influenced by the Gothic-Lombard style. The scene is essential and the characters are striking for their composure with which they face pain and the elegance of the gestures. In the fresco, the three figures, static, almost petrified, are portrayed with mainly cool colours, also for the incarnated ones: the Madonna cries sorrowfully, but with her hands in silent prayer. Even the pain of Saint John is clear as he holds his head with a distraught expression on his face. The altar below is the result of recent restoration, as indicated by the inscription on the right side.

The Fresco Of Saint Pontius

Saint Pontius, to the right of the altar, is the dedicatee of the chapel. It is Saint Pontius of Carthage, who died after 260 A.D. and was a disciple of Saint Cyprian. The fresco can be dated between late tenth and early eleventh century and, despite the minimum use of the colour palette, it shows good decorative skill in the upper part. The saint is depicted with dark skin, while showing a consecrated host and a closed book; he wears a gold edged red cope. Beside him on the left, the figure of a monk with the letter “B” can be seen that has been identified with Saint Benedict. This shows exactly how the Benedictine monks were among the first architects of the revival of many lands in the Tanaro valley and in Roero in the last decades of the tenth century.

The Fresco Of Saint Eligius

Another fresco, ascribable to the first half of the eleventh century is located to the left of the altar. You can see the figure of a saint whose initials (AL LO) suggest he is Eligius. Considered the patron saint of metalworkers, watchmakers and blacksmiths, he is represented here with the usual work tools of these categories: hammer, box for nails, horseshoe. The widespread staking, the result of a none too orthodox restoration that took place in 1935, has not ruined the overall painting, which remains fascinating. Always on the same side of the wall, we can see the remains of a Madonna with Child, now rather evanescent.


Direction: Paolo Ansaldi
Post-Production: VDEA Produzioni
Translations: Europa 92
Copywriter and research: Laura Marino


ROTARY CLUB Canale Roero


Gianpiero Artusio