The principal monuments
The Challant Residence
From its name one assumes that it was a residence belonging to Count Filiberto di Challant, Lord of Bard from 1487 to 1517. Nephew ot the Prior Giorgio di Challant, Filiberto is famous for the creation of the beautiful Castle of Issogne. Both the castle and the Challant Residence have marked architectural and ornamental similarities.
The façade with its stone windows and expressive frescoes (recently brought to light) opens onto a tiny square and is supported by an arch at the centre of which there is crossed window with cable decorations. On the first floor you will find an elegant great hall embellished with a richly adorned coffered ceiling similar to that of the Castle of Issogne.
The building is now private property and from 2000 to 2005 was the seat of the visitors centre, Infobard. Currently it is being proposed as a location for temporary exhibitions.
The Bishop’s Mansion
Walking up the street, shortly after the Challant Residence, you will find the so-called “The Bishop’s Mansion”.
It is not certain but considering the close relationship between the young Filiberto and the Prior Giorgio there is nothing that prevents us from believing that the Prior also had a residence in the village of Bard worthy of his high rank.
Another, perhaps more romantic hypothesis, is that the building was the “enforced” residence of the Bishop of Alba exiled to Bard at the beginning of the 1700’s.
The House of the Sundial
The only residence with a sundial, from which its name derives, is found in front of the Casa del Vescovo. It has been recently restored and is used by the Municipal Administration for housing and commercial use.
Once the site of an antique mill, the building has been restored as part of the Fortress of Bard’s Regeneration Project. It will be used for housing and commercial purposes.
The façade, adorned with fretwork and bright red decorations, clearly displays the Savoyard coat of arms.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century this residence was home to Flaminio Valperga, governor of the fortress garrison. It is easily distinguishable by its façade which has a mullioned bifora (window with two lights currently closed) with a crossed window either side of it. Coat of arms belonging to various noble families are still fairly visible including that of the Valperga family.
This building is also part of the Fortress of Bard’s Regeneration Project and has been converted into a guest house and wine bar.
It was given the name Ciuca which means “ubriaca” (the drunk one) because the house before being restored was quite unstable. Inside you will find a magnificent viret, a spiral staircase made entirely out of stone with steps that spread out like a fan around a single central axis; the sophistication and care that went into creating this architectural piece is a wonderful testimony of the past.
Although not as old as some of the other buildings, it nonetheless has a rich and important history.
Highly likely the descendants of the De Jordanis, Ricarand and D’Albard families, the Nicole family had this first floor stately apartment built when they were appointed as Counts of Bard in 1774. This was the last noble family of Bard and after the death in 1849 of the last remaining member, Giovanni Battista Felice, the Palazzo Nicole became the residence of the governor of the fortress. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was bought by the two Jacquemet families whose descendants continue to live there today.
The front of the building has two entrances, one for vehicle use which leads to a grand staircase with a cross vault, and the other is for use by people on foot. The left side of the building is in the form of square tower with a quatrefoil window at the top that illuminates the baroque chapel adorned with richly coloured frescoes created by Giovanni Antonio da Biella in the second half of the 1700’s. On the wall above the arch there are evident signs of bombardment, a reminder of the resistence to the Napoleonic seige of 1800.
The antique fountain
Recently restored, one cannot fail to notice this fountain firmly embedded under the arch in front of the Casa Challant.
The date 1598-27 MAII is engraved on the fountain’s main slab of rock and the same date is inscribed on the monolithic column next to it, 1.7m high with a mascherone (gargoyle) positioned at the top. It is quite likely that the three pieces were once part of a single fountain probably situated where the column stands today. For a long time this column was mistaken for the pilori (pylorus is perhaps with the original Greek meaning “doorkeeper”), the infamous column to which prisoners were bound and flogged.