Stage 18 | 23 October 2020 | 100 km
Vigevano is a town and comune (township) in the province of Pavia, Lombardy, northern Italy, which has many treasures and a huge industrial business. It is in the middle of a district called Lomellina, a great rice-growing centre. Vigevano received the honorary title of city with a declaration of Duke Francis II Sforza on February 2, 1532. Vigevano is well known for its beautiful Renaissance “Piazza Ducale“, in the middle of the town.
If it is true that food is culture, eating in Vigevano can be not only a stimulating experience for the palate, but above all a path that leads from the kitchen to the art, history and traditions of these places.
If the appetizers are mainly based on cured meats, with salami (the one preserved in fat and the goose one) playing the leading role, in the first courses the main element is rice. Characteristic of the area are also the ravioli and the asparagus dishes. Traditional recipes are based on pork, beef, goose and tasty Ticino fish.
Sforzesco Castle built in 1300 by Luchino Visconti. Civic Tower of the end of 1400 of Bramante inspiration. Piazza Ducale built at the end of 1400 by Duke Ludovico il Moro. Cathedral of the Renaissance period.
Modern Vigevano was born in the Lombard period near the current castle. Since the thirteenth century Vigevano decides to take sides with Milan against Pavia. From 1227 to 1745 Vigevano followed the fate of Milan and the Milanese dukedom. In the mid-eighteenth century the city passed under the Savoy and will remain annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia until the unity of Italy. During the first and second war of independence, the Vigevano area was the site of Austrian battles and occupations. In the nineteenth century it became an industrial city and after World War II it became the world capital of the footwear industry.
Asti, the capital in the center of Piedmont and the province of the same name, is a lively and charming city rich in history and with a glorious medieval past still visible today in the fortified houses and in the severed towers that overwhelm the baroque of its churches and the majesty of its eighteenth-century buildings.
Surrounded by the hills of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato and crossed by the Tanaro river, it is famous for its DOC and DOCG wines exported all over the world.
Defined in 2019 by Forbes magazine, the perfect destination for autumn, Asti and its territory offer, all year round, the best of a holiday in Italy: an enchanted landscape, a fascinating historic center, engaging traditions (Palio, fairs , Douja d’Or, Festival delle Sagre), international cultural proposals, a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere and excellent cuisine dominated by the prized white truffle.
Vittorio Alfieri was born there, the actor and writer Giorgio Faletti and the musician Paolo Conte.
The large production and variety of vegetables has its highest expression in the bagna càuda, “poor” dish that has its origins in the Middle Ages. The ingredients are: salted anchovies, butter, extra virgin olive oil, garlic; everything is diluted in a pan until a hot sauce is obtained. At this point the raw vegetables typical of Monferrato will be dipped (Nizza Monferrato hunchback thistle, Isola d’Asti ivory thistle, Motta di Costigliole square pepper, Asti golden celery, Jerusalem artichoke, turnips, Castelnuovo Scrivia potatoes, etc. ).
- Robiola di Roccaverano, fresh DOP cheese, prepared with cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk.
- Robiola di Cocconato, fresh cow’s milk cheese (it was once made with raw milk).
- Piedmontese Toma, cow’s milk cheese, whose history dates back to the 14th century.
Autumn and winter are the “main” seasons of the Asti and Piedmontese cuisine.
- Raw beef with truffle (trìfula), veal with tuna sauce, peppers in bagna cauda, veal tongue in green sauce (bagnet verd), “electric” tomini (cheese with chilli pepper), rabbit tuna, are just a few of the typical Asti appetizers.
- Donkey Agnolotti, hare agnolotti; egg tagliatelle (tajarin) with roast sauce, truffle or porcini mushrooms, for the first courses.
- Boiled fatty beef with “tanning” polenta (seasoned with stringy cheese).
- the financier: the name of this recipe derives from the suit, called just “financier”, usually worn in 1800 by bankers and high finance men, who seem to like this dish very much; other sources suggest instead the origin of the name in the tribute in kind paid by the farmers to the guards (the financiers, in fact) to enter the city. Tribute mainly composed of the offal of chickens, still today among the fundamental ingredients.
- Piedmontese mixed fry (fricia) linked to the pig slaughtering ritual and the need not to waste anything. It included innards, black puddings, lung (fricassà bianca), liver (fricassà nèira), sweetbreads. Over time, it has been enriched with new ingredients and there are numerous versions: pumpkin flowers and amaretti are typical of Monferrato.
- roast veal and braised beef with barbera or barolo.
- Polentina from Asti, made with almonds, raisins, maraschino and covered with yellow polenta.
- Amaretti from Mombaruzzo or Canelli, soft almond biscuits.
- The hazelnut cake.
- The zabaglione with Barbera or Muscat.
- The ancient mon (pronounced “mun”) of Mongardino (soft brick).
- The peaches at the Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato.
- Complex of S.Pietro: Rotunda of the Holy Sepulcher, XII century, convent-hospice of the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, Valperga chapel, XVth century – Archaeological Museum.
- Civic building: The palace, seat of the Municipality, built on medieval pre-existences, was built in 1727 remodeled by Benedetto Alfieri in the baroque forms that it still preserves today
- Palazzo Mazzetti di Frinco: Former Pinacoteca Civica, it is now home to the Asti Musei Foundation. it hosts temporary exhibitions of international importance – baroque building on medieval pre-existences, furnishings of the eighteenth century
- Ottolenghi Palace: An elegant example of a Piedmontese Baroque noble residence – it hosts the Museum of the Risorgimento and Partisan Division “Garibaldi”, the Historical Institute for the Resistance and the Museum of the Imaginary.
- Crypt and Museum of Sant’Anastasio: It houses stone artefacts from the eighth to the fifteenth century – The crypt is attributed to the late seventh century
- Palazzo Alfieri: Birthplace of Vittorio Alfieri in baroque forms, on medieval pre-existences – seat of the Guglielminetti Foundation of the National Center for Alfierian Studies and of the Alfierian museum and of the museum educational center of the Asti Museums Foundation
- College building: XIX century, seat of the Astense Library “G. Faletti “and some schools
- Torre Comentina: XIII century, with a square plan, it is more than 38 meters high
- Torre De Regibus: XII century, about 27 meters high, it is the only one in the city with an octagonal plan
- Torre Rossa or San Secondo: In bricks and sandstone. It is one of the two towers of the western gate of the Roman age (1st century AD), raised, then, in the medieval age (11th century)
- Palazzo del Michelerio: 16th century – Formerly the Monastery of Jesus of the Observant Poor Clares, in the 19th century transformed into an Opera Pia Michelerio in the service of orphans. Seat of the paleontological museum which preserves important fossil finds dating back to the Pliocene.
- Palazzo Mazzola: Noble palace of the early sixteenth century on medieval pre-existences, seat of the Municipal Historical Archive and the Palio Museum of Asti. It houses illuminated manuscripts (Codex Astensis), parchments dating back to the 10th century and the municipal ordinates from the 14th century
- Synagogue and Jewish Museum: The museum offers an overall image of the various aspects of Jewish life and culture in the context of the historical reality of the Jews of Asti, whose presence has been documented since the year 812.
- Domus Romana: Patrician Roman house (1st century AD): the mosaic carpet adorned with fish and twigs of ivy, bordered by black and white tesserae frames, is of particular value
- Troyana or clock tower: Built in the second half of the thirteenth century, 44 meters high, and crowned by Ghibelline battlements, at the top it houses the bell and the clock.
- Ex Church of San Giuseppe: 17th century building, with an imposing baroque facade, formerly the Discalced Carmelite church. Today deconsecrated, after careful restoration it has been transformed into a theater and a pole for cultural events
- Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta: Gothic-Piedmontese building. XIII– XIV century. To see: 13th-century presbytery mosaic, 15th-century baptismal font, Gothic-flowery portico, bell tower
- Collegiate church of San Secondo – patronal church: XIII-XIV centuries, XV century facade. To see: 10th century crypt with the remains of San Secondo, patron of Asti. To see: the “Adoration of the Magi” by Gandolfino da Roreto, the drapes of the Palio offered by the Municipality to the church of the Saint.
- Alfieri Theater: The theater named after the well-known Asti tragedy writer was inaugurated in 1860, after only two years of work. It has 640 seats divided in the stalls, three tiers of boxes and gallery.
- Saint Catherine: XVIII century, baroque building. To see: the majestic elliptical dome, side chapels
- Church of San Martino: 17th century, baroque building. It was the seat of the Barnabite fathers. To see: the rich ornamental stucco and frescoes.
- Enofila: XIX century, an important example of industrial architecture, was the first seat of the Astese Glassworks. It is currently used as a venue for trade fairs
- San Giovanni – Diocesan Museum: 5th-15th century – First Cathedral of the diocese of Asti, the crypt is very valuable
- Ancient walls: They extend along the northern perimeter of the historic center and line the current Viale Partigiani. The first walls date back to the thirteenth century, surrounded the oldest medieval core, in the fourteenth century the walls were enlarged to include the new villages.
- Church of Santa Maria Nuova: Part of the bell tower and a short section of the left side, hidden by the adjoining houses, remain of the original Romanesque church. It has a very rich endowment of paintings and sculptures and a monumental choir. It is today officiated by the Orthodox Church.
- Church of Santa Maria di Viatosto: It stands on a hill 4 km from the city center. It is a splendid Romanesque-Gothic building. Panoramic point from which to admire the city of Asti.
The etymology of the name Asti is still absolutely uncertain.
According to some scholars, Asti derives from the Latin word hasta, used to indicate the pole planted where the assets of the debtors of the public treasury and of the proscribed were sold by auction. The toponym would therefore designate the successful foundation of a colony, whose main nucleus was made up of properties of Roman citizens.
The hypotheses that trace the origin of the toponym Asti to the Ligurian root ast, “hill” and the Celtic-Germanic root ast “sheepfold” seem less likely. In both cases the primitive Ligurian (or Ligurian-Celtic) village would be indicated, around which pastoralism was practiced, located on the highest hill in the city. Asti, in reality, would have arisen not far from the Tanaro river.
The inhabitants of Asti are the Astigiani with reference to the territory of the province of which Asti was the capital (Astesana or Asteggiana), perhaps the most appropriate would be the definition of Astesi.
The historical event of Asti has been characterized since the beginning by its peculiar commercial vocation linked to the centrality with respect to the communication routes between the Ligurian coast, the Po valley and alpine passes.
The foundation of Hasta dates back to 125-123 BC, years of the military campaigns of the consul Marco Fulvio Flacco in southern Piedmont. Located along via Fulvia – commissioned by Flacco himself, from which it took its name – in less than a century Hasta becomes a colony and develops into a populous and economically lively center, thanks also to the quality of its best known products, wine amphorae and terracotta pots exported everywhere, as Pliny the Elder writes, “by sea and by land”.
Like other colonies in southern Piedmont, Hasta undergoes a progressive demographic and economic impoverishment starting from the third century. A.D., but also records new religious and social ferments with the establishment in the middle of the fourth century. of a Christian community, destined to soon become diocese.
Episcopal see organized and attested already in 451 AD, when in 568 the Lombards descended to Italy, Asti for at least three centuries has seen its population drop and lost its prosperity, but once again its geographical position of the city, combined with the palatability of its fertile lands, pushes the Lombards to establish one of the four Piedmontese duchies in Asti, certainly one of the most important in Italy if the first known Duke of Asti is Gondoaldo, brother of Queen Teodolinda.
With the arrival of the Franks at the end of the eighth century, the committee was governed by the duchy, governed by a count, that is an official of imperial appointment. After the death of Charlemagne, the progressive disintegration of the Empire and its organizational structures meant that in Asti, as in other peripheral realities, a large part of public goods became the patrimony of the Church and that, little by little, the authority of the bishop replaces the public administration in decay. And the Church will play an important role for Asti, ensuring even in the most difficult centuries of the city’s history that minimum of civil organization indispensable to a city.
In the IX and X sec. the bishops of Asti, in addition to guaranteeing the functioning of Asti, implement a promotion policy towards the emerging classes of the city dedicated in particular to trade. The “rebirth” of the Asti trade is probably due precisely to the meeting of urban merchant needs with the organizational direction given by the bishop: this mutual exchange will lead to an institutional transformation of local powers and the affirmation of an orderly and stable structure from which both local and longer-term trade will benefit greatly.
In the following century, the birth of the Municipality (1095) sanctioned the formal recognition by the bishop of the ability to self-govern these new social and economic forces.
In 1141 the emperor Corrado III recognized in Asti the ius faciendi monetam, the right to beat one’s own currency.
With the certainty of a “strong” currency, the trafficking of the Astigiani, along the Genoa-Oltralpe route, intensified, also in consideration of the fact that Asti had become for Genoa the indispensable intermediary in trade between the sea and Liguria and the ‘internal.
The merchandise and money from Asti arrived almost everywhere in the fairs of small and large centers in Europe, from Burgundy to Cham
pagne to the kingdom of France, and from there to the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, with certificates also in Pannonia , Spain and England.
The municipal period sees Asti reach the peak of its political and economic power: the Municipality in fact extends its jurisdiction over much of southern Piedmont, while great wealth flows into the city thanks to the resourcefulness of its merchants, who were also soon pre-paid.
In 1226, in fact, according to the testimony of the chronicler Ogerio Alfieri, the credit activity of the families of the “Lombards” of Asti began, operating at home in the government of one of the main municipalities in the Po Valley and exercising, at European level, a function prominent in the international credit market.
Since the mid-thirteenth century, the families of the Asti elite have been divided into factions – as is the case in much of Italy. The growing situation of conflict undermines, at least in part, the autonomy of the municipal government and only a clever strategy of political alliances allows the urban ruling class to maintain political and administrative control over the city and the territory: Asti is confirmed rich and powerful .
The attestation of the Palio custom, which took place that year near the walls of Alba, dates back to 1275 after the Asti victory over the Albesi during the conflict between Asti and Angiò and their respective allies in the region.
At the end of the thirteenth century, Ogerio Alfieri, in weaving the praise of the “powerful municipality that dominates most of southern Piedmont”, notes that the property value declared in the land register by the taxpayers of Asti amounted to about half a million lire of real estate, while citizens’ securities capital reached an extraordinary figure of over two million lire in the Registrum (or land register).
Over the course of just over a century Asti became so rich and splendid that it was known throughout Europe.
Between the second half of the thirteenth century and 1348 the town was reorganized: an imposing city wall was built, noble families built majestic palaces and raised towers, the Cathedral was restored (1266: construction of the bell tower; 1309: interventions on the presbytery; 1348: conclusion of works). Asti is politically weakened by the first internal struggles, but remains the collector of enormous wealth: the Lombards of Asti become bankers and coiners of the Pope (1342-1362), finance the English crown (1338-1356) and operate as bankers of the Aragonese rulers (1391) ; Simone di Mirabello, son of an Asti banker and treasurer of the Duke of Brabant, was regent of Flanders between 1340 and 1346.
The great wealth of the city catalyzes on Asti the expansionist aims of the emerging lordships of the Po valley: after a few decades of oscillating relationships of the urban magnatice class with the Marquis Monferrato and the Visconti, in 1387 the city and its territory, pass to the Orléans as a gift of Valentina, daughter of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, on the occasion of her marriage, with Ludovico di Touraine (from 1391 duke of Orleans). The elaboration of the Codex Astensis, the municipal liber iurium preserved in the Municipal Historical Archive, dates back to this phase, to be understood as the “ideological manifesto” of a solid urban ruling class, which claims the prestige of its past and the recognition of its own prerogatives by the new principles.
The cohesion between the local patriciate and the dukes of Orleans will guarantee a further period of prosperity in Asti: the Società del Moleggio (1397) was born, which through the excavation of a new channel strengthens factories and mills in the city, while members of the Asti elite in the during the long domination of the Orléans (1387-1529) they assume key roles in the ducal administration.
In 1529, with the treaties of Cambrai, Asti was ceded by the king of France, Francis I, to the emperor Charles V and from these, in 1531, to the infanta of Portugal Beatrice, wife of Charles II, duke of Savoy: the city , occupied for a long time by Spanish troops, it passed under direct Savoy rule only in 1575. At the time it was an important cornerstone of the Savoy kingdom for the dynasty.
However, the social and economic crisis, starting from the 16th century, diminishes Asti’s political weight. Emanuele Tesauro wrote around the middle of the seventeenth century: “After various misfortunes, the happy fortune made this city finally rest under the shadow of the Royal House of Savoy”.
In the 18th century Asti was one of the main theaters of military campaigns involving the Savoy state: from the war for the succession of Spain (1703), to the war for the succession of Austria (1745-46). The displacement of the borders of the Duchy to the east makes, however, the Asti stronghold less central, which will no longer live its own events of particular importance, except for two events: in 1797 the brief story of the Jacobean republic of Asti ended with the death of the rebels, and in 1821 the support to the Statute, granted by Carlo Alberto, by the bishop of Asti Antonino Faà di Bruno with a courageous pastoral letter addressed to the faithful.
In 1853 Asti hosted the first congress of mutual aid companies of the Kingdom of Sardinia: a confirmation, together with the rooting of workers’ associations in the city, of Asti’s sensitivity to the new ferments of social solidarity.
Finally, the tribute given by the Astigians in terms of participation, and unfortunately of the fallen, in the two world wars is great.
Finally, it should be remembered that for the contribution offered to the Liberation struggle, Asti and its province have been awarded the gold medal for military valor for partisan activity.