Asti – History & Culture

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History of Asti

Originally Ligurian settlement , later became the Roman city by the name of Hasta Pompeia (89 BC), as today testifies to the Red Tower . After being Lombard duchy , from the eleventh century was a thriving free commune. Until the thirteenth century Asti was one of the richest centers of northern Italy as a strategic center of trade and banking . In the sixteenth century came the Savoy.

In 1797 , following the turmoil of the French Revolution , there was a revolution against the government Astese Savoy , which led to the proclamation of the Republic of Asti. This only lasted three days and ended with the shooting of the insurgents. 800 were destroyed most of the medieval walls, within the project of urban modernization and construction of the city.

The city lies on the left bank of the Tanaro river and is part of the flourishing region in the hills of Monferrato, famous for its gastronomic traditions and its artistic beauty , a rich variety of examples of Romanesque architecture .

The ancient Roman city and its walls remains to witness the Red Tower, the Augustan Age. Built of brick, reminiscent of the Palatine Towers incorporated into the Palazzo Madama in Turin. The city has retained much of its medieval core. The fence of the nobles, the oldest area of ​​town settlement, housed in the medieval strongholds and towers of the most powerful families in the city.

In the narrow streets are always evident traces of fortified houses and towers. Doctors located in the square as the tower Troyana (less than 38 m high.), Called “Clock Tower” (XIII sec.), Which marked the official time of public documents, or the tower of Guttuari in Piazza Statuto.

What to see

The S. Maria Assunta cathedral, dating from the fourteenth century, is one of the most important fourteenth-century Gothic churches of Piedmont, floors, with three Gothic portals crowned by three rosettes at the top. Inside are to see the frescoes and paintings (among others Gandolfino d’Asti, Carlo Innocenzo Carlone, Moncalvo), the interesting treasure that keeps precious vestments, and the eighteenth-century wooden choir.

cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Asti

The Gothic church of S. Secondo is dedicated to the patron of the city and dates back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Has a fine polyptych by Gandolfino d’Asti of the fifteenth century and the ancient crypt dating from the eighth century. Near the church is the City Palace, former seat of the Municipality from 1558, by Benedetto Alfieri.

The church of Santa Maria Nuova is of Romanesque origin but was rebuilt in the fourteenth century and subsequently restored. Inside you can see a table of Gandolfino d’Asti, while on one side there is the cloister of the canons.

Interesting monument is the Battistero or Rotonda di S. Pietro, one of the most important  Romanesque monuments of the city. It consists of three buildings: the baptistery, built in the twelfth century on the model of the church of S. Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the Renaissance church of San Pietro in Consavia (square, the second half of the fifteenth century) and the cloister. Today, the complex is a museum and hosts exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, as well as archaeological and paleontological museum, which is accessed through the cloister.

Very nice to visit is the crypt of St. Anastasio (VIII cent.), A magnificent example of Romanesque art and archaeological site and museum. The crypt is building a basilica plan, divided into three naves with vaults, with columns and capitals of rimpiego of late-Roman period. In areas adjacent to the crypt lie between the other tombs of the eighth to the tenth century and the foundation wall of the facade of the medieval church of St. Anastasio (VIII cent.).

Asti is the birthplace of the Italian writer Vittorio Alfieri. In the Palazzo Alfieri, where the poet was born in 1749, has hosted the Alfieri Museum, which houses relics and memories of the writer. The Municipal Art Gallery exhibits works from ‘500 to 800 and is headquartered in the Palace of Bellino, originally a medieval fortified house, then renewed by Benedetto Alfieri, which is located on the main street, Corso Alfieri.

Near Asti

In S. Pietro (village of Asti), a district north-west of the city, lies the monastery of Certosa d’Asti or Valmanera. It houses a restoration laboratory known as “Arazzeria Ugo Scassa.” In addition to the weaving workshop, you can see several tapestries of sketches of paintings by Italian and foreign artists including Casorati, De Chirico. Guttridge, Mastroianni, Kandinskj, Klee, Matisse and Miro.

Montechiaro d'Asti, panoramaPhoto Credits: Xavier de JauréguiberryMichela Mazzoli e Jaqueline Poggi