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Pius V, Napoleon I, Vittorio Emanuele II, Casalcermelli and cabbage

Rural genius, exquisite irony, diplomacy, greediness: this enriches the delightful anecdote lapped by King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy and the inheritance transferred to Alexandrian soil by Pope Pius V and then by the leader Napoleon Bonaparte to immortalize the memory.

The story was born on the outskirts of Casalcermelli at the friars farm inhabited by the community of Dominican monks aggregated to the basilica of Holy Cross a Bosco (the convent was also set up the hospice for veterans of the Napoleonic battles) and invincible to citizens clinging to the privilege granted by the three indigenous landowners (Cermelli, Straneo, Trotti) and intimidated by the amount of resources already donated to the monks. The wine delighted the Parish Council (that is, the priest and four Dominican friars) gathered on Friday at the rectory and stimulated to violate the strict monastic rules: the risky approach by the team of monks high on married women crossed to the journey back to the rural home was the prelude to the banquet arranged by Bishop Giuseppe Capecci (Diocese of Alexandria) to reconcile the municipal representation of Casalcermelli to the blacksmiths (here the irony was the forge for the subtle association ”among’ glasses’) enrolled in the parish council.

The epilogue to the successful peace mission moved the community of friars to propose to the three latifondiste families to allocate to citizens the exclusive income on the harvest following the first annual harvest performed on the soil of Casalcermelli (80% of land under vines, that is, perennial crops and little water: the irrigation network crossed only the right bank of the Orba stream). Around the feast of Saint John the Baptist (24 June) on the residual stubble from the wheat harvest (here the cereal growing is the only alternating specialty) grew the most flavorful cabbage variety and, since 1950, relegated to the home garden because threatened by the exchange of hybrid types. The seed, out of the market, has risen from the will of five farmers decisive to bring the community Cabbage San Giovanni to the fair of San Baudolino. Today the vegetable is registered at the Slow Food Ark and awarded a municipal designation of origin (deco).
King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy, who took part in the hunting trip in Casalcermelli, saw the huge cavolaia and, thus, united the formula ”Country of cabbages”, to the municipal area of Casalcermelli lying on the left bank of the river Orba.