Aleramo, founder of the Marquis of Monferrato, has always been surrounded by a shroud of legend and romanticism.
This character really existed in the 10th century and historic documents regarding him can be found.
The Dominican Jacopo d’Acqui (mid 14th century) narrates that in the year 934, a Noble German man called Aldeprando was travelling to Rome on a pilgrimage as a voting offering with his pregnant bride, and they found themselves passing through Piedmont. When they reached Sezzadio, the women started to have labour pains and was welcomed by the Lords of the village in their castle. Shortly afterwards, a beautiful baby boy was born, baptized with the name Aleramo. A few months later the couple set off on their journey to Rome, leaving the little boy with the lords in the village, but sadly on their return journey home they passed away.
The young Aleramo was brought up by the lords of the castle in Sezzadio, and when he reached the age of 15, he was made esquire by a noble man from Monferrato.
In the meantime, the Emperor Ottone was in the region of Lombardy to suppress a rebellion, and had requested the local nobleman and his faithful to send him a number of esquires for court. So Sezzadio sent him Aleramo, who was very much liked by the Emperor so much that he “named him Sir and of his family”. The young Aleramo, was handsome and polite, and soon caught the admiration of all the noble women, in particular of the Emperor’s daughter, Adelasia or Alasia “the most bewildered damsel in the world”. They fell madly in love and the girl suggested that they run away to a far away place, foreseeing her father’s reaction. So one night, the couple left the court and escaped on two horses, but were immediately followed by the Emperor’s men.
After many days, they stopped in the Apennines on the border with the region of Liguria, near the city of Alassio. This city once known as Lamio, was renamed as it is known today in honour of Alasia or Adelasia.
Life for the two was immediately difficult with no food, and no shelter to live. Aleramo built a refuge and started working as a coal-man. He sold coal at the local market in Albenga, whereas his lover was good at embroidery and sold her work, earning some money to get by.
One day, Aleramo went to sell his coal to the Bishop of Albenga, who instantly noticed his polite manners and made him his esquire. One day, the Emperor requested again more men for his battles and the bishop sent his pageboy to court, to help the cooks, but basically to be a dishwasher. The moment of revenge arrived for Aleramo when Ottone’s nephew was kidnapped by the rebellious Bresciani and everyone feared for his life; the young man did and said so much that he eventually managed to get him released without any harm being done.
Aleramo was led to the Emperor, and that poor humble dishwasher, all black and dirty had to reveal his true identity and wait for the man to explode. But the Emperor was rather touched by his story and with “great gentleness went to gather his daughter, his son-in-law and his four grand-children (in the meantime the couple had become parents of four children, 3 boys, and one girl).
Ottone conferred his son-in-law and his grandchildren the title of knight, and granted them as a distinctive sign “the red and white coat of arms that represented faith and value for all Aleramo’s heirs.”
As a matter of fact the red and white (silver) will become from then onwards the colours that represent the Monferrato territory up until our days. As a sign of esteem and reconciliation, Ottone conferred him with the title of Marquis, rewarding him with as much land as he could possibly cover on horseback in three days and three nights.
And from this legend the so-called “Aleramica horseback” was born, destined to circumscribe parts of the regions of Piedmont and Liguria included in the Marquisate that was founded the 21st March of the year 967.
A remarkable horseback ride that a thousand years or so marked the borders of the Monferrato territory.
Text take from www.monferrini.com
Translated in English by the IAT Tourist Information Centre Acqui Terme