Via Vittorio Emanuele, 120 – 12062 Cherasco (CN)

Mentone Family

Among the families that had a central role in the local history of Cherasco for five centuries, starting from its foundation in 1243, the Mentones had a particular significance.

Ancient origins. The family, originally named Numentono, in the 1200 was already part of the managing group of the new hamlet. Even before Cherasco was founded, in 1235 Enrico Numentono was mentioned as a witness in a deed edited in Pollenzo, for a suit between the Breme monastery and the de Braidas. Enrico was a council member in 1259 and 1277, and in this last year he represents the community in the first peace signed in Cherasco with Asti, Alba and Chieri.

The hegemony in town. The importance of the Numentono – de Mentono family grows in time, as confirmed by some documents of the following century: in the deliberations in the period 1372-1410 the de Mentonos have more public roles than any other family. Majors, stanciatores, rationatores, sapientes, ambassadors, capitulatores (the ones who used to modify the rules of the hamlet), the de Mentonos were called to fulfil all these roles. In these forty years, the members of the family were mentioned 138 times, while the second ones are the Lunellos (64 times, less than half).  And the Mentones have also the major number of presence in the private council, the most important power that helped the chief magistrate managing the town. At the end of 1300 the family was pronged and in the chiefs council there were fifteen of its members. Its power was also demonstrated by the many real estate properties. On November 22nd 1447, one of the two Cherasco counsellors who were called to Asti to pledge loyalty to the duke Carlo of Orléans, was a member of the Mentones.

A wine merchant. From some documents of the city of Bra of 1372, it is possible to deduce that the Mentones were involved in commerce, also of oenological products. The dominus Lanzarotus,  of the lords of Santa Vittoria, had a person of Bra arrested as a reprisal because he believed that the toll persons in Bra asked him too much money for some wine that he carried. The client was Henricus de Mentono of Cherasco, who bought around 2000 litres of wine, a quantity that assumes a commercial activity.

Biagio, the heroic commander. In 1557 Cherasco was besieged by the French leaded by de Brissac, Giovanni Francesco Mentone guided the opposition, but the walls collapsed, the city was occupied and the French sacked for three days with robberies, rapes and killings. Giovanni Francesco in 1558 went to France with Francesco Fremondo, representing the city of Cherasco, to pledge loyalty to king Henry II.
In the meantime, Biagio, another member of the Mentones and probably the most celebrated, was also fighting against the French with Emanuele Filiberto of Savoia, allied with the Spanish. Biagio Mentone, who was supposedly the strategist of the San Quintino battle in the Flanders, was one of the major partners of the duke of Savoia. A career that continued as governor of fortified military areas or fortified castles (Cuneo, Cherasco, Bene). Emanuele Filiberto in 1569 decided to reward his “magnificent counsellor”, offering him the Santo Stefano castle (today Castelrosso) situated on the border Cherasco, with all the land, fields, vineyards and woods that are part of it, with a motivation that seemed to come from a form of friendship: “in all the roles that we gave you both during war and after the peace was signed, you pleased us and we do not only appreciate your services but we also think that you are worthy our recognition for your sacrifices”.
In the 1500 another member of the family leaves an important mark in the history of the city: in 1587 Carlo Mentone, with minister Giovenale Balbo, is granted the permission to found the confraternity of the Santissimo Crocifisso (Holy Cross) or of Misericordia (Battuti neri), that for centuries managed the Monte di Pietà, the Ospice of the fools and the assistance to the convicted to death.

1631, the last ditch duell. While the Sabaudis were in Cherasco for the treaty of peace that would have ended the Monferrato war, the duchess of Savoia organized a party on the carnival Sunday of 1631. Baldassarre Mentone was placed at the entry of Lunelli palace to control because he was a good swordsman. While on his duty, he argued with colonel Gobò of Liegi, also an excellent swordsman and they ended up in a duel. It took place the day after, outside the city and beyond the Tanaro River, and the colonel got pierced from side to side by the blade of Mentone.

Candles against the Turks. Also in the XVII century the Mentones were involved in the government of Cherasco and in 1661, when the Turks still were a threat for Europe, the mayor Bernardo Mentone donated 7 lires and a half to the convent of the Dominicans for them to buy many candles for the exposition of the Holy, “so that our Lord protects us from the Turks army”.

The family extinguished but the name is still alive. With the death of count Ermenegildo, who left no heirs, in 1776the Mentones extinguished. The Ratti family was given the right to add the surname Mentone to its own, but at the end of 1800s, the last member of the Ratti Mentone died, so king Umberto I allowed the Fracassi family to add to its own surname also Ratti Mentone.