Church of Madonna della Neve (or from Vulpilio)
The church was built between the 12th and 13th centuries.
Romanesque traces are still visible today in the semicircular apse.
Availability: private property | not open to visitors.
In the hamlet of S. Antonio, on the top of the Vulpilio hill, stands the small Romanesque chapel of the Madonna della Neve.
It was originally the church of the then disappeared village of Vulpilio, already attested at the beginning of the twelfth century under the rule of the bishop of Asti, and then it probably depended on the parish church of Musanza; dedicated to Santa Maria, it appears for the first time in a document of 1228 and returns to the beginning of the fourteenth century as a commend of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Asti.
Towards the beginning of the 17th century the chapel became the exclusive property of the Goria family, to which Giacomo belonged, the bishop of Vercelli, founder in Villafranca of the Opera Pia Sant'Elena. The title of “Madonna della Neve” probably spread in the early years of the 18th century: it is in fact defined by the pastoral visitor Monsignor Todone in 1729.
In 1828 the Gorias succeeded, as patrons, the counts Canalis di Cumiana.
About the building, the shape of the basement, the pilasters and the single-lancet windows would seem to indicate that the apse of the church preserves the Romanic masonry under the plaster and throughout the height of the semi-columns.
The façade is a gable and the portal is flanked and surmounted by rectangular openings. The bell tower, with a double-arched bell cell and a pavilion roof, is from the Baroque period. On the vaulted ceiling of the interior a starry sky is painted.
The small building on the south side is divided into two floors: on the ground floor there is the sacristy, on the first floor two statues, a Holy Archangel and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
According to tradition, the fallen victims of the violent battle here in 1554 during the wars between the French and the Spanish were buried nearby.