The history of Neive
Neive owes its name to an illustrious, noble Roman family, "Gens Naevia", or "Naevii", established there in ancient times.
When the Roman Empire fell, the Huns swept through the area, to be followed by the Saracens. It was during this period that the first fortified castle was built on the hilltop.
Neive was liberated along with the Alba district by Otto I of Saxony at the end of the 10th century.
During the same period, the monastery of Santa Maria del Piano was built in the valley below the town; over time it grew powerful, acquiring vast estates.
In the 11th century and again in the 13th, Neive was carved up among various local nobles, most notably the De Revello family, and went on to become a municipality in 1190.
Because of its position equidistant from both Alba and Asti, Neive was often the site of confrontations between the two towns and in 1274 the old castle was destroyed in a battle between them, along with others in the vicinity.
From 1387, Neive flew Asti’s banner under the Visconti, then successively declared allegiance to the Duke of Orléans, Francis I, Charles V of Spain, and Charles III of Savoy. Neive acquiesced once again to the French before submitting to the Savoys.
In 1618 Neive became a fief and was awarded to Count Vittorio Amedeo Dal Pozzo, who styled himself as first Count of Neive.
Around the historical ricetto, (small fortified area in Italian villages for protection of the residents in case of attack) grew a small community of noble and wealthy families, giving Neive its title of “pajs dj Sgnuret” (town of nobles).
These included the: Counts Doglio di Torre Uzzone, the Counts Cocito, Cissone, and Bongiovanni, along with the Cotto Counts of Ceres and the Demaria Counts. In addition to these were added the men in the service of each.
The village was encircled by walls with just two openings, the San Rocco and San Sebastiano gates, allowing it to bar entry to local farmers and herders.
These local peasants could take refuge only by digging caves under the town walls from the exterior towards the centre of the hill.:
these excavations were called infernotti and many are still visible outside the town walls and under the Castle itself.
Within the walls there are ancient passages under some of the buildings, which seem to lead to the site of the old Castle.
By the 18th century, as Napoleonic troops crossed lower Neive, it seems that only a single farm and a mill existed, close to the river.
This is now called the “Borgonuovo” part of Neive, developed more recently between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. It is situated close to the railway line built to link Neive with Asti, Alessandria, Alba and Cuneo, and put Turin, Milan and Genoa within easy reach for delivering the area’s products to market.
Transport gave a foothold to small businesses, artisans and wine producers bringing Neive the worldwide renown it still enjoys today.