Our project started from the remains of an old farmstead already indicated in the reliefs of the Teresian Cadastre of 1723 as the “Cascina detta Eugenia”, located on the hills of Pratolungo in Pettenasco, on the heights that descend from Mottarone towards Lake Orta. Opposite there is the island of San Giulio with its mysteries.
In 2002, when Laura and I arrived there, the original activity that included the wine production and the fruit cultivation, had been abandoned for several decades, both the buildings and the land were abandoned and most of the area had grown wild.
From research at the State Archives of Turin, it was found that the complex comprising the old farmhouse and the villa, in its recent configuration, dated back probably to the mid-1800s: as can be seen from the Rabbini Cadastre of 1864; at the time the property was of the Fortis, a very common surname in the area of Orta. The consistency of the buildings was the same that we found on our arrival, the land of the property was larger than the current area which corresponds today to approximately 5 hectares.
Continuing in our research it was later found in the reliefs of the Teresian Cadastre of 1723 a seventeenth century pre-existence identified as the “Cascina detta Eugenia”, which was later incorporated into the current buildings. The figure of Eugenia Fortis intrigued me a great deal: she must have been quite a character to have her name given to the farm, and what a name, of noble mould, in these forlorn lands …
Eugenia Fortis appears for the first time in the Book of Baptisms of the Parish of Pettenasco in 1641, in an act of baptism of Giacomina, presumably her farmers’ daughter, and is registered in the State of Souls up to 1683, the year after which no more news of her is found. Another family of local landowners, the Martelli, lived there between 1683 and 1838. According to the researcher of local history, Cesare Codegone (BSPN, Year LXIX, 1978), Architect Giovanni Antonio Martelli of Miasino, canon of San Giulio and creator of, among other things, the little church of the Oratory of Our Lady of Pratolungo, with which the land borders, planned in the early decades of the eighteenth century a villa in addition to the farmstead. Since 1840 it was owned by another Fortis family, which made a substantial enlargement of the eighteenth-century villa. In the early 1900s the property passed on to the Maulini family of Agrano that remained there until 2001, the year when we bought it.