In a hamlet of the town of Roccaforte Mondoví is a small cluster of weathered farm buildings that make up the Borgata di Casali Bertini. Practically hidden among this collection of neglected wooden structures is the Cascinale dei Frati, a 15th century building used as a monastery by local Carthusian monks.
In addition to its use as living quarters for the monks, the Cascinale served as a shelter for the order’s cattle and sheep during the transumanza, an annual migration of animals from the lowlands to the highlands for summer grazing. In this case, from the Cascinale dei Frati (alt. 600m) to upland pastures near the monks’ charter-house, the Certosa di Santa Maria di Casotto, in what today is the town of Valcasotto (alt. 1400m).
This unimposing structure houses a series of frescoes painted in the late 15th century by local artist Giovanni Mazzucco, who worked extensively throughout Cuneo Province. Alongside images of the crucifixion and venerated saints, Mazzucco painted scenes from everyday life – the monks herding their animals and making cheese. In spite of centuries of neglect, the frescoes survived intact and were restored to their current condition in 2002. The colors seem as vibrant today as they would have been 500 years ago.