Alessandria is a provincial capital in the Piedmont Region, and was founded in about the middle of the twelfth century by Guglielmo il Vecchio and named Civitas Nova. Subsequently, Barbarossa gave it the nickname of Alessandra of straw, reminding us that in 12274, during the legendary siege between Barbarossa and Guglielmo, the citys roofs were made of straw. When looking at its eighteenth century structure and the remains from the military characterised nineteenth century, you cannot help but think of this important past stronghold, capable of resisting numerous attacks. Subsequently, Alessandria became part of the Empire, taking on the name of Cesarea for a brief period. It became a free city in 1198, only to be conquered by the Viscounts in 1348, following the destiny of the Dukedom of Milan. It fell into the hands of the Savoy family in 1707 and during the first War of Independence the Austrians occupied it for a long time. As of the end of the last century, the city was transformed from an urban point of view and currently is extremely important in the industrial, commercial and communication sectors.
The city and its monuments
There are numerous monuments and works of art to be admired in Alessandria: the Cathedral, renovated between 1810 and 1879 with a high bell tower and a neoclassic facade; Piazza della Libertà with the Palazzo Municipale, characterised by the portals and a clock on the facade itself, the Palazzo della Prefettura e della Provincia (Prefecture), with its splendid baroque forms and the Palazzo delle Poste e del Telegrafo (Post Office), with its large characteristic mosaic telling the history of the postal and telegraphic services. Near to the Piazza della Libertà there are the churches of Santa Maria del Carmine and Santa Maria di Castello. Finally, it is worth visiting the fortress commissioned by Vittorio Amedeo II and built by Giuseppe Ignazio Bertola, the church of San Lorenzo with its rococo style decorations, San Giacomo della Vittoria and the baroque church of San Giovannino, built at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
The geographical area
The area surrounding Alessandria is a succession of villages and hills full of history and culture. Suggestive villages such as Marengo, Bosco Marengo with its Renaissance church Santa Croce, built between 1566 and 1572 commissioned by Pope Pio V, born in the village, Felizzano, in a suggestive position above the Tanaro valley, Vignale Monferrato with the church dellAddolorata and the parish church San Bartolomeo, Quargnento with its splendid parish church of San Dalmazzo. The Alessandria area is also known for the town of Acqui Terme, known for its thermal spas and admired for its cuisine. The macaroons and characteristic baci cakes are amongst the specialities that can be tasted, along with truffles and mushrooms accompanied by a glass of the local red wines.