The origins of human settlements in the Bra area are very ancient: on our hills the presence of man is already ascertained during the Neolithic age. In the Roman period the city of was founded at the end of the XNUMXnd century BC along the Tanaro valley Pollentia (the current Pollenzo), an important commercial and military traffic center between the Ligurian ports and the Piedmontese plain. Its relevance in the imperial world is due above all to its strategic location along two important routes of communication, the Aemilia Scauri and Via Fulvia.
It was quoted by Pliny among the oppressive nobility of ancient Liguria as the famous city for the production of fine wool and fine pottery. The testimony of the ancient Pollentia today is clearly only perceptible to the amphitheater, whose structures have been exploited for the foundations of the houses of the modern village of Pollenzo. Numerous archaeological finds have been found and are now kept at the Civic Museum, which is located in Palazzo Traversa.
The Medieval Bra
The origin of the villa of Bra is probably due to a group of monks of the Abbey of San Colombano di Bobbio who, constituted in a priory around the Church of S. Antonino, gave rise, in the 1082 to a village that was formed and expanded in the locality of Veneria, extending over the lands assigned to them by Adelaide di Susa, most of which was represented by the "braida", a vast farm with a considerable extension of land used for grazing, downstream of the hill (in the Lombard language) Brayda means precisely "rural house with farm"). Shortly after the year one thousand, the Region became a rich family of military extraction, which took the name of De Brayda.
Gradually, downstream of the castle erected in the highest part of the hill, a new urban conglomeration was developed thanks to the migration of the inhabitants of Pollenzo (geographically less defensible from the possible raids of the armies) towards the hilly lands. Protected in the most ancient times by simple ditches and palancate, the new villa went more and more strengthened with powerful defensive works. The availability of the family allowed the De Brayda to extend their territory considerably and to conquer strategic military positions.Bra became free Commune in the second half of the twelfth century although this event was the cause of continued disputes and confrontations with the communal powers of Asti and Alba, who looked at Bra with particular interest: the subjugation of the village would have guaranteed the possession of one of the most controversial caposalds of all southwestern Piedmont. But, for the same reason, they were not just the two free communes near her to establish their independence. Bra became also the subject of attention by the Counts of Savoy, the Marquis of Saluzzo and the Marches of the Monferrato.
But the real difficulties for the noble family De Brayda began in the middle of the 13th century: with the acquisition of various land property by more local families, the braid feudalists lost to the population the authority that had dominated it so much that they had to depart from the city. In particular, in the 1224, Bra was sold to the Commune of Asti, one of the most flourishing and powerful municipalities in northern Italy and always struggling with Alba. Just to counter the power the Aachen City was taking in the area, Alba decided to found a city to collect the treacherous exiles that would easily tolerate the alternation of powers between the De Brayda and the astigues. In this way 1243 was born in Cherasco City.
By the middle of the thirteenth century small disputes between the cities of Cuneo ceased for higher state reasons. Carlo d'Angiò, brother of the King of France Louis IX, became Count of Provence marrying the heir of these lands and immediately sought to expand into the Alps by imposing on Bra, as in Cuneo, Alba, Cherasco, Mondovi ' , Acqui and Alessandria to recognize the Angolan lordship with which the most powerful Turin and Asti had to come to terms.
After the brief period of the Angevin domination (ended with the defeat of Roccavione of 1275) and the subsequent passage to the Acaja (cadet branch of the Savoy), Bra became in 1341 an integral part of the Asti County controlled by the Visconti of Milan who gave the city the new Statutes. It is in this period that the old castle, placed on the top of the highest hill, Monte Guglielmo, was restored and strengthened; to it are then added defensive coverage works.
If during the first Middle Ages the village was reduced to a modest rural community, in the 1385 Pollenzo was also interested in important reconstructions of the erected castle in the early times. The castle thus assumed the current shape with quadrangular plan with moat and tower. The advent of the Porro in the feud of Santa Vittoria still led to new quarrels for the dominion of the Pollen area: to their fall, Bra lost half of the territory, erected in the county in favor of a branch of the Romagnano of Santa Vittoria.
Bra in the modern age
In 1515 Bra was helplessly assisted by the fall of the French King Francis I who, in his dispute with the emperor Charles V, forced the city to surrender. This was not enough for the commander of the French troops, the famous Milanese condottiere Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, who, instead of appeasing the contest, did not save Bra from the looting and the laying down of its fortifications to prevent them from becoming ramparts for the imperial troops.
The same ones are then replaced by the same Frenchmen, who again occupied Bra in 1531, so that in 1552 the same ones were expanded to defend the city from imperial troops stationed in nearby Cherasco. That same year Prince Emanuele Filiberto, son of Charles II of Savoy, made himself available to the emperor in the extreme attempt to prevent his ducat from being completely in the hands of the French. The gratitude of imperial power was such as to entrust to the same savage prince and to Ferrante Gonzaga the command of the troops who, even in 1552, besieged and conquered the castle and the inhabited wreath in a cruel way. According to Emanuele Filiberto's order, all the defenders of the city were swept away and Piedmontese prisoners were hanged as rebels.
The merits of the young savvy Prince were such that the imperial troops led by him gained important and decisive successes against the French armies so as to reach the signing of the Cateau-Cambresis peace treaty. Following this stretch, Bra's territory was permanently annexed to the Savoy Duchy.
The Bra Sabauda
Bra assures the rank of town in 1760 by decree of Carlo Emanuele III, which included it in the personal applause of his son Maurizio, Duke of Chiablese. Meanwhile Pollenzo Castle became part of the Savoy heritage, becoming the royal family's residence. The eighteenth century was also the century that saw the city of Bra expanding and flourishing from the architectural point of view thanks to the presence in the city of the eminent figure of architect Bernardo Antonio Vittone, who created here two absolute masterpieces of late baroque art: the rounded facade of the Palazzo Municipale and the Church of Santa Chiara.
But not only the "century of the snow" brought a breath of renewal in the city. The nineteenth century gave Bra men of remarkable standing in the most diverse fields, yet able to indelibly mark the story and the events. On all the figure of St. Joseph Benedetto Cottolengo (born in Bra in 1786), the apostle of the humble and derelict, who founded the House of Divine Providence. But not only in the field of care, the braids were able to excel. One should not forget, in fact, the work by Guglielmo Moffa of Lisio who, with Santorre of Santarosa, had to start the 1821 carbon sequences. Among the men of study and science we remember the Latinist Gandino, the archaeologist Edoardo Brizio, the natural scientists Ettore and Federico Craveri (founders of the Museum of Natural Sciences who today bear their name) and the lioness Giovanni Piumati.Today's Bra
With the new century Bra had the strength to turn its economic and productive fabric. The leather and leather craft shops, powered by the rich breeding industry of the cattle breed typical of the Cunean plain, turned into real tannin industries. Their presence, the workforce necessary for their operation, the market fueled by the supply of military footwear for the city's forces, ended up signifying the entire agglomeration and its population, resulting from migratory flows, above all from the areas poorer than southern Italy. So the new industrial face of Bra was born, which was also strong in the expansion of manufacturing activities in nearby Turin, which changed the quiet habits of the provincial town. In this context, the stories talked about by Giovanni Arpino (of the braidian family for the maternal part) in his famous novels or in "Man of Turin" by Velso Mucci.
If today little is left of the period of the tanneries, the industrial fabric of Bra has been able to draw from that experience the necessary lymph for its subsequent development. When formaldehyde was extracted from the tannic extracts, indispensable in tanning, the Braidese companies reconverted their productions making Bra one of the major world centers in the processing of plastics. Today the city has companies that in various sectors have been able to overcome national borders and has emphasized even more its role as a center of trade by becoming a place of intermediation in the trade of indigenous horticultural productions, viticulture and livestock production and the rich agri-food chain of areas of Langa, Roero and the Cuneo plain.