Pont Canavese lies where the Orco and Soana valleys meet in a position that, in the past, made it strategic from the point of view of defense, commerce and the use of natural energy. It is a very old settlement which the Romans called “ad duos pontes” because to reach the village one had to cross the bridges built over two torrents, the Orco and the Soana. The two valleys that correspond to these two torrents, and go by the same names, connected to the Canavese region to the Vanoise area and Val d’Isère in Dauphiné on one side and to Val di Cogne and Aosta on the other side. Before the railroad and freeways were built, Pont was the crossroads of an important transalpine road network, an area for trade and a place of encounter for different cultures. For this reason, around the year 1000 the Marquis of Ivrea, Arduino, first King of Italy (1002), fortified Pont to resist the siege of the Emperor Henry II. The towers and defense ramparts date back to that era and are still standing to form the town’s suggestive skyline against the mountains in the background. In 1110 the Emperor Henry V assigned the village and valleys to the counts of the Canavese, descendants of Arduino, whose family tree was divided between the two rival families of San Martino and Valperga, both of whom boasted feudal rights over Pont. The inhabitants of the village thus found themselves in the middle of the long fight with impositions from one side or the other. Their exasperation induced them to join the anti-nobility revolt which spread throughout the Canavese at the end of the fourteenth century. In 1389 in accordance with an arbritation award of the Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the community came under the jurisdiction of Amedeo VII of Savoy, the “Red Count”, who had already inherited the rest of the Canavese region from his father. During that period the village had become rather well-to-do as a result of its artisan activities; for this reason as well it was the prey of raids by plunderers. Savoy politics in the European theater in the 16th and 17th centuries made Pont the theater of violent battles between French and Spanish troops due to its strategic position. They devastated its castles, saving only the two towers that are still standing today. In the early 18th century commerce grew and regular fairs and markets were established, to which merchants rode on mules from Savoy and Dauphiné, Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont and Liguria. Until 1789 the present day Romanesque parish of Santa Maria in Doblazio, perched on Mount Uliveto, was the parish church of Pont, built on what was probably a place of pagan cult worship, restored by Arduino after the withdrawal of Emperor Henry II and reconstructed in the 18th century to the form it has today. The trapeziform plan and two front arches of the presbytery make it a unique specimen of ecclesiastic architecture, which is certainly due to the shape and small size of the place. The medieval heart of Pont has fortunately remained intact with the long Via del Commercio (now called Via Caviglione) which winds through the historical district like its backbone, with low, protective porticoes under which the old workshops of the coppersmiths, blacksmiths and woodworkers stood. This was also where the markets and fairs were held.

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