ALBA: the capital of the white truffle is also nicknamed the town of a hundred towers; only a few of them have survived, fine red-brick towers which give the town its distinctive
appearance. Of Celtic and Ligurian origin, called Alba Pompeia by the Romans, the town has kept a spiral-shaped medieval plan.
To explore it, leave from Piazza Savona (car park) and take Via Vittorio Emanuele to Piazza Risorgimento, where you will find San Lorenzo cathedral (12th century), a beautiful medieval tower and the communal palace.
The truffle fair and the finest food boutiques are in Via Vittorio Emanuele, which is also where the inhabitants of Alba take their daily passegiata (promenade). A trip to the Langhe, a hilly region south of Turin, is a taste experience in itself. The leading products of this opulent region - truffles, cheese, hazelnuts, chestnuts and chocolates - are served by a gastronomic tradition that is still very much alive.
This small village of 679 inhabitants has given its name to one of the greatest Italian red wines,
the pedestrian streets are dotted with wine merchants, wine cellars and boutiques dedicated to this terroir. There is even a little corkscrew museum (to be recommended only for fanatics).
Barolo's flagship monument is its castle, which is of medieval origin but has been greatly altered through the centuries. The Marquis Falletti of Barolo and his wife Juliette Colbert (great-granddaughter of Louis XIV's minister) lived here, and spent endless amounts of money to make Barolo an exceptional wine. The castle's cellars contain a splendid wine collection, given over entirely to Barolo: it is rare to taste a wine beneath the very vaults where it was "born"...
The ancient town known to the Romans as Augusta Bagiennorum, and believed to have been the capital of the Ligurian tribe the Bagienni, was located in the frazione Roncaglia. Considerable remains of public buildings, constructed in concrete faced with small stones with bands of brick at intervals, an amphitheatre with a major axis of 390 ft (120 m). and a minor axis of 305 ft (93 m)., a theatre with a stage 133 ft (41 m). in length, and near it the foundations of what was probably a basilica, an open space (no doubt the forum), an aqueduct, baths, &c., have been discovered by recent excavations, and also one of the city gates, flanked by two towers 22 ft (6.7 m).
This peaceful little town in Piedmont seems entirely devoted to the pleasures of living. Historic cafe', restaurants, Slow Food offices, food shops full of truffles, chestnuts, hazelnuts and cepe mushrooms.
The magnificent Baroque facade of Sant'Andrea church, built by Guarino Guarini, is wonderful, as is that of Santa Chiara church (on the corner of Via Barbacana and Via Craveri), a masterpiece of Bernardo Antonio Vittone. Two local museums will appeal to both the leisurely stroller and the curious. The first is a museum of archaeology and history set in a beautiful Gothic palace on Via Traversa; the second (Museo Federico et Ettore Craveri) is one of Italy's first natural history museums.
A very huge castle, used from Savoia family as hunting manor until the beginning of last century.
The edifice made up of a central body with two wings later added, was originally a monastery in the tenth century which, over the course of its long history, suffered from various fires and
pillaging. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was largely transformed under the management of Francesco Gallo and Bernardo Vittone who designed the facade. At the end of the 1700s,
the Charterhouse was occupied by Napoleon's troops who eventually sold it privately. Bought by the Savoy family in 1837, it was partly reconstructed, emphasising its magnificence and
The interior of the castle - one of the best preserved of the Residenze Sabaude (Savoy homes), due to having been lived in for four centuries - brings together the two sides in the life of a ruler: the official side made up of balls, parties, and receptions and the more familial, private side. The major architects of the time worked for three centuries.
Guarino Guarini, hired by Prince Emanuele Filibeto di Savoia, built the strip with towers and the monumental stairs towards the park during the second half of the 17th century.
In the 18th century, Giovanni Battista Borra, a student of Bernardo Vittone, designed the counter faade in a Neo-Classical style, the lateral forms was added in 1831.
St Mary of Pesio's Carthusian monastery
In 1173, monk Ulderico of the Order of St Bruno's Carthusian monks, founded the St Mary of Pesio's Carthusian monastery. The monastery soon gained great importance, becoming, for almost six centuries, one of the most important cultural and spiritual centres of Piedmont. After this long period of well-being and prosperity, however, in 1802 the monastery was subjected to raids and plunders by the Napoleonic troops, which forced the monks to abandon it. With the coming of the Restoration, calm returned and the monastery became a hydrotherapeutic centre. Even if it has lost its original medieval appearance, the building has retained its late-Renaissance features.
So much beauty concentrated in such a small town is astonishing! Just like a fortified town tightly enclosed within its ramparts, this "new" town founded in 1243 follows a strict geometrical plan. Four churches, a Gothic municipal palace, a secular tower, two triumphal arches, a castle of the Visconti family: all in a space the size of a pocket handkerchief. The Salmatoris Palace, where Napoleon signed the peace treaty with the duchy of Savoy in 1796, regularly hosts art exhibitions. Cherasco is also the Italian capital of heliciculture (snail farming). This good old mollusc is on the menu of all the restaurants, while Baci di Cherasco (Cherasco Kisses) - chocolate and hazelnut sweets - are sold in every confectioner's shop
Chiusa di Pesio
walled old town square foot of the mountains, from the Roman era strategic position allowed to control the flow through the Alpine passes communicating with Liguria and Provence.
The two places in the historic center around the house Marquis of Ceva, feudal parts in the sixteenth century, while several neighborhood Valley, bounded by the walls of times the old shelter, retains the quaint and rustic village medieval.
With its red-brick finery and impressive build (conferred by its square medieval plan), the castle of Grinzane Cavour is not easily forgotten. Nor is the superb view that you enjoy from each of its windows. The principal architect of Italian unity, Count Camillo Cavour, stayed here from 1832 to 1849. His tiny room has been restored: here Italian schoolchildren piously file past, creating a huge queue.
The best comes last: the wine cellars contain the regional wine collection of the Langhe, bringing together over 200 wines served by a team of enthusiastic female wine buffs.
Grotte de Bossea (Frabosa
Occupying a surface area of over 2 km, and having a vertical drop of 200 m, the Grotta di Bossea is one of the most beautiful and important Italian caverns for the variety of it concretions, its grandiose rooms, and abundance of water and underground lakes. Remarkably evocative features distinguish the tourist part of the cave, with spectacular effects of great aesthetic and environmental appeal. Its huge size, dizzying height, sheer walls, enormous ceilings engraved with sharp edges, cliffs as well as the Cyclopean boulders that have fallen from above are some of its major characteristics.
The chapel of St. Fiorenzo
Built between the XI and XII century, the chapel with a single chamber with wooden trussed vaulting is one of the best examples of international Gothic style in the Piedmont area. The most extensive and famous painting cycle of the entire Mondovi zone being conserved here, with over 326 square metres of frescoes dated 1472. Although the identification of the person who commissioned the work is known, being Bonifacio della Torre, the actual fresco painters are unknown, although what is known is that they were influenced by the Jacquerio, and Canavesio schools and by Provenal painting style, thereby providing as with a rare example of crude realism and delicate chromatic effect.
Of Roman origin, a free commune subsequently integrated into the duchy of Savoy, this little village, set like so many others on a hilltop, lives at the pace of Barolo, enjoying the best parcels of land in its area. Via Umberto leads to Piazza Castello, which offers a very fine view of the Langhe and beyond to the Alps. A bell tower (the only vestige of the castle built in 1544), a convent, a few churches and some remains of ramparts give La Morra a certain charm. The Sunday that we visited, all life had taken refuge in the square of the Baroque San Martino church and in the municipal wine cellar, which occupies the ground floor of an 18th century palace.
The names dervies from the "The Mount of Vi(coforte)". It was founded in 1198 by the survivors of the destroyed Bredolo. In the 10th century, after the arrival and the often violent presence of Lombards and Franks, came the Saracens from the near Provenne. In the XV century it was definitively incorporated in the Savoy State. Mondovi grew until in the 16th century it was the largest town in Piedmont it was involved in important episodes of European and Italian history, one of which was the Napoleonic Battle of Mondovi in 1796. Main sights: Churc of San Francesco Saverio, Medieval walls and towers (12th century), Piazza Maggiore (Main Square, 14th-16th century), in Gothic style.
Another magical town of the Langhe! A maze of sloping cobbled alleys takes you to the top of this
old Cathar town, brought into line by archbishop Ariberto Intimiano, who immediately had the "heretics" burnt at the stake in Milan. There, an amphitheatre serves as a setting for a bell tower, a
Baroque oratory and a church. Serenity reigns supreme. Benefiting from outstanding acoustics, the place also serves as a concert auditorium.
Near Monforte there is Monchiero Alto, the borgo antico (old town), is sublime.
Named Pollentia in Latin. The Castle of Pollenzo, built at the end of XIVme century, it was amply altered in neo-gothic forms in the Thirties of the Nineteenth. Connected to the castle we have the church of San Vittore, it also of neo-gothic forms.
Once the capital of a powerful marquisate, it is now one of the most important centres in Italy for antiques, fine furniture and restoration. Lying just a few kilometres outside the city, the Abbazia di Santa Maria di Staffarda, a monastic complex built by the Cistercians in 1135, is well worth a visit. Another local attraction is the Castello della Manta, a prime example of late Gothic art dating back to the early years of the fifteenth century. Saluzzo became famous during the Risorgimento period as the birth place of Silvio Pellico, is today above all known for its superbly crafted furniture. Saluzzo ranks amongst the most beautiful cities of Piedmont.
One of the biggest elliptic domes ever built in the entire world silhouettes against the sky, 74 metres high and 36 metres in diameter. It is the symbol of the Santuario di Vicoforte (Vicoforte Sanctuary), and it was designed in the early seventeen hundreds by the architect Francesco Gallo. The architectural complex shows different styles: a Renaissance lower part, a baroque drum and dome and bell towers in various architectural styles. The Sanctuary has only one nave. Inside the central nave stands a small marble temple that holds the historic pillar with the image of the Madonna, which was the reason behind the Sacred complex being built.
The town has been built along with its castle. The center of Serralunga, a typical medieval town, has changed a little since the old times. From the castle it's possible to see its structure, of houses built around the castle; this way it was easy for the people to run and take shelter there in case of war. The castle was built from a parallelepiped block with two towers, a corner turret that towers over the high walls, and a double lancet window.
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