Chiese medievali scomparse
The first documents on the existence of churches in the area of Piea appear in 1153, when the Bishop Anselm appears as beneficiary of a bill from Pope Eugenio III, confirming the property of the church of Asti. The document states that amongst the church’s property in the north-west was ”Caprile cum her Comitatu castro et Plage” Capriglio, along with its committee and the castle of Piea. The ‘committee’ cited is intended to indicate a shared jurisdiction with the Domini, lords of Capriglio and a little later the Domini De Playa, the lords of Piea, rural aristocracy of the time.
In the papal bill of 1154, which is more specific, two churches appear: San Secondo and Santa Maria Maddalena. The first is described as a country chapel belonging to the Canons of Asti cathedral. Over the centuries the fate of the church of San Secondo was troubled. Described as being in ruins, the church reappeared in documents in 1780, when it was rebuilt and reopened for worship. Later, in 1818, after some legendary happenings including the discovery of a den of snakes in the church, it was abandoned and fell into disrepair before disappearing completely. Only the name of the church survives today: San Secondo is located around half a kilometre south of the present-day town, a short distance from the motorway 458.
The church of Santa Maria Maddalena is mentioned in 1182 in an act in which Bishop Guiglielmo of Asti granted to the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie of Asti a church with adjoining shelter for travellers and a spedale (hospital) located on the main road, iusta rivum Plage in strata publica. With this in mind it is worth remembering the importance of Piea with regard to ancient communication routes: in fact through Piea’s territory passed the Roman road that linked the important town of Industria (Monteu da Po) and to Hasta Pompeia (Asti). It is also likely that, in correspondence with the valley of Cortazzone, there was a branch from Piea to the via Fulvia, which, further south, linked Asti with Turin.
In 1247, cited by the Bishop of Asti, the church of San Filippo appears, located about a kilometre and a half south of the centre of Piea, near Viale, so as to be called “de Playa” and “de Viallo”.
Towards the middle of the fourteenth century in the Registrum Ecclesiarum dioecesis Astensis, the church of Santa Maria Maddalena was no longer recorded, but two churches in Piea were accounted for: the ecclesia Sancti Philipi de Playa and the ecclesia Sancte Marie de Playa, taxable respectively, at 20 and 12 Asti lira. They are recorded as being dependent upon, amongst many other churhces, the Pisenzana parish of Montechiaro. San Filippo remained a parish church until 1585 when, as stated in the pastoral visit, having been ruined and deconsecrated due to a murder that was committed there, the church was destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1597, in another location near the castle, taking on the title of San Giacomo.
FARINA M. C., Piea d’Asti. Vita e storia del secondo millennio,Parrocchia di Piea, 1993, pp. 7-191.
BATTISTONI M. ,LOMBARDINI S., a cura di, Comune di Piea, Schede storiche-territoriali dei comuni del Piemonte, 2001.
CAPPELLINO M., Piea Chiesa dei Santi Filippo e Giacomo, in CROCE V. a cura di, Tra gotico e neogotico. Le chiesa parrocchiali astigiane, Asti, Cassa di Risparmio di Asti, 2012, pp. 292-293.