Land of Erbaluce. Passion for the earth.

Legend of Erbaluce of Caluso

Erbaluce is one of the seven Italian vineyards whose name is tied to the territory and it is produced only in the Canavese. The white wine is surprisingly deep, capable of reaching remarkable complexeties and it was one of the first Italian wines to obtain the DOC in 1967.

Its fascinating name is derived from the fable of Albaluce. The legend narrates that once upon a time, these valleys were populated by nymphs and gods who were revered by men. Dawn and the Sun were lovers but never destined to meet, but thanks to a lunar eclipse, Albaluce was born. Her beauty and grace forced men to offer any possible gift. Men looked for fertile ground around the lake but to no avail, everything died. The pain was so deep that from Albaluce’s tears that fell to the ground, vineyards were born and these were the white grapes of Erbaluce.

The first news of the vineyard of Erbaluce is in 1606, when Giovan Battista Croce, a jeweler working for the Duke Carlo Emanuele I, mentioned it in his book. The name of the vineyard is from the colour that the grapes have in the autumn – the pink and gold highlights are more intense, amber like in the parts more exposed to the sun. There are various types of this DOC, in addition to the still wine, there is also sparkling wine and passito.

History and battle of Caluso

Caluso’s ancient origins date back to the Celtic populations called Salassi, in the pre Roman era. The Romans made Caluso a fortified town and for this reason called it OPPIDUM CLAUSUM, that is “closed strong town”, presumably to safeguard the road to Eporedia (now Ivrea) as it was strategically positioned, dominating the Canavese flatlands southwards up to Torino and northwards up to Ivrea.

Battaglia di Caluso

Caluso was strategically very important in the Middle Ages, 1300, as it became the apex of the wars in the Canavese, as they were narrated at the time by Pietro Azario in “De Bello Canepiciano”. The Canavese was at the time an area whose domination was divided and sought after between the Counts of San Martino, in part Guelfa, and the Counts of Valperga, of Ghibellina tradition, who in turn were allied with the Marquise of Monferrato. Caluso, as Azario defined it, was “vast and potent”, belonged to the Counts of Biandrate, who were ghibellini. As they expanded, they soon came into conflict and wars started between the Guelfi and the Ghibellini. Caluso was one of the first towns to be taken over by the Counts of San Martino and they invaded other towns and castles in the area.
Giovanni II Paleologo, Marquise of Monferrato intervened, and as his capital was Chivasso which bodered Caluso, he wanted to expand his territories and bring back the town under ghibellino control. After devastating the surrounding countryside of Caluso, to weaken it, the Marquise conquered various towns and castles in the vicinity and went back to Caluso to lay siege.

Meanwhile, the political heads of Guelfo rushed into town, amongst them the Count of San Martino. They were so sure of their military superiority and of victory that they decided to open the main doors of the fortified town, lower the bridge and not to defend the entrance. This was the start of the battle. The Ghibellini, who were spread out outside the town walls, decided to enter along the straight open road and not use the main entrance. They marched uphill, passing tall buildings and went directly to the main square where they were taken by surprise and attacked and suffered great losses. They were pushed towards the outside and seeing the main door open, the ghibellini entered the town for the second time, but were forced to fold.

Occupation of the town became imperative. Giovanni II Paleologo had a clever plan: the first group took control of the bastions, while the troops that advanced along the main street, set the houses alight. While the town was burning, the Guelfi found refuse in the Citadel, the highest part of the town. During the night, however, they managed to escape through an opening in the external wall of the fortress. Caluso, therefore, passed to the Marquise of Monferrato. They also managed to have control of Ivrea, following a pact stipulated by Savoia.

The war of the Canavese ended with the battle of Caluso and it was such an important event that Dante Alighieri wrote about it in his Divine Comedy, chapter 7 of the Purgatory :”At last the spirit that sits amongst them but in a lower position and looks upwards is Guglielmo, Marquise of Monferrato who caused through his wars pain and tears towards the city of Alessandria in the Monferrato and the Canavese”

In 1500 Caluso was again in the middle of bloody battle this time between the French and the Spaniards, who took apart and neutralized the citadel, and which it was never rebuilt. Ruins of the ancient fortress are still visible today. The French won, and left General Carlo Cossè de Prissac in charge of the town. He built the canal that flows through the town from the Torrent Orco, near Castellamonte, to water the fields and energise the mill. With the peace treaty of Cateau-Cambrèsis in April 1559, it went back to the Duke of Savoy.

Between 1700 and 1800, the Valpergas, feudal lords of Savoy, extended the gardens of the palace, demolishing the whole area south of the palace up to the south wall that was used as a retaining wall. Today, it is a botanical garden, rich in particular species. From 1927 to 1945 Caluso was part of the Aosta province.