The History of Manta Castle
In the province of Cuneo, a few kilometers from Saluzzo, an ancient fortification rises on a hill: the Manta Castle.
The original building is no longer recognizable due to the many renovations it had over the years, however the three large Palaces that formed the castle structure can still be identified: the one built by Valerano Saluzzo della Manta in 1416, the one erected by Michele Antonio Saluzzo after half of it of the sixteenth century and that of Valerio Saluzzo of the late sixteenth century.
With the extinction of the Saluzzo della Manta family, at the end of the eighteenth century, the castle became the first military hospital for the Austro-Savoy troops and then purchased by the Radicati of Marmorito and restructured in the nineteenth century before being donated to the FAI (Italian Environment Fund) in 1983 by Countess Elisabetta Provana del Sabbione and by her husband Count Francesco De Re Thesauro di Donato.
Check out the rest of my travels here.
The Church of Saint Mary at the Castle
Adjacent to the Castello della Manta is the Church of Saint Mary which I recommend you visit. Although the date of foundation is ignored, the church is dedicated to the Virgin and was built for the village of Manta. As you enter, on the right, the Chapel of the Risen Christ opens, commissioned by Michele Antonio di Saluzzo as his own funerary chapel. Its small size conceals, in the part of the choir, splendid frescoes that tell, without any interruption, the Passion of Christ.
The Baronial Salon
Among the most memorable rooms in the Manta Castle is the Baronial Hall which contains frescoes dated around 1420. These perfectly preserved frescoes are a very rare case in that most of them have been erased, destroyed or covered with the centuries go by.
THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
On the wall opposite the one with the Prodi and the Heroines is depicted the myth of the Fountain of Youth which in this case is told in three moments: the race to the source, the bathers, the rejuvenated. The gothic theme of the comic emphasizes the erotic aspect of love and next to grotesque scenes images of courtly life follow one another.
THE NINE STALWARTS AND HEROINES
This iconic fresco of the castle represents characters from the autobiographical novel “Le Chevalier Errant”, composed by Tommaso III of Saluzzo, father of Valerano.
– Pagans: Hector of Troy (with the face of Thomas III), Alexander The Great (with the face of Valerano), Julius Caesar;
– Jews: Joshua, David, Judas Maccabeus;
– Christians: Arthur, Charlemagne, Godfrey of Bouillon.
– Delfile, mother of the hero Diomedes;
– the Amazons Sinope and Hyppolita;
– Semiramide, the Queen of Assyria;
– Ethiopian, conqueror of India:
– Lampeto, queen of the Amazons;
– Tamiris, Queen of the Scythians,
– Teuca, Queen of the Illyrians (with the face of Valerano’s wife)
– Pentesilea, Regina elle Amazzoni (with the face of Tommaso’s wife).
The guided tour of the Castle costs $ 12,35, while the free visit costs $ 10. Inside it is possible to take pictures without the use of flash.
Entry is free at Manta Castle for holders of the FAI, National Trust and Société des Amis du Louvre card.
If you are looking for a nice place to eat, I recommend Antica Locanda del Monvisio in Saluzzo. Average price for a bottle of wine, water, two dishes and dessert is $ 33,65 each.
The pretty town of Moncalieri also deserves a note where we stopped for an aperitif and enjoyed its small, but lovely, historic center.