Alessandria travel guide

Alessandria is capital of the province of the same name and second city of the Piedmont region. The city has about 100 thousand inhabitants and is located between the rivers Tanaro and Bormida.

All about Alessandria

Useful information

Region: Piedmont. Province: Alessandria. The tourist office of Alessandria is called I.A.T. (Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica) and is located under the arcade of the Palazzo Comunale (Piazza della Libertà). Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 09.30 to 12.30; Tuesday and Thursday from 09.30 to 12.30 and from 144.30 to 17.30. Tel: +39 0131234794.

By Car/Public Transport

By Car

Alessandria is located along the A21/E70 between Turin and Brescia and along the A26/E25 that connects Ivrea to the coast.

By public transportation

By Train: The address of the city’s central station is Stazione ferroviaria Piazzale Curiel, 8 – Alessandria. The city is on the Torino-Genova line. There are also direct train connections with Piacenza, Pavia and Novara, among others.

Bus: The company ARFEA provides bus services to other cities within the Alessandria province.

Airport: The Massimo Bovone Airport of Alessandria is not used for scheduled flights. The nearest airport is that of Torino Caselle.

Public Transportation within the city

The local bus company is called ATM. A regular ticket is valid for 90 minutes from the time of stamping and costs 1.30 Euro at points of sale and 2.00 Euro when you buy it on the bus itself. There is an information point inside the central station: Punto ATM – Piazza Curiel (Tel.: +39 013262499).

What to see

Santa Maria del Carmine Church Alessandria
Santa Maria del Carmine Church

The most famous and beautiful church in the city is the Santa Maria del Carmine Church, built in the 14th century.

A brief history of Alessandria

Alessandria was already inhabited at the time of the New Stone Age (about 11 thousand years BC). The inhabitants at that time were a mixture of different peoples including the Gauls, the Celts, the Ligurians and the Etruscans.

Earliest history

After being occupied first by the Romans and then by the Lombards, from the beginning of the Middle Ages the area was in the hands of the Monferratos, who were to exercise power for 7 centuries.

Between the 8th and the 11th century, the area was sparsely populated. There were some small villages, mostly in places where there used to be settlements before. People mainly lived from agriculture, hunting and fishing. There was also trade with the surrounding areas and especially with the Ligurians.

Alessandria itself was already an important town thanks to its favorable location.

April 21, 1168 was an important date for the city, since on that day several municipalities were merged to form Alessandria. Place of action was the castle of Rovereto and it all happened by order of Pope Alexander III Bandinelli, who in this way tried to create a kind of stronghold against the Barbarossa’s and against Genoa. He aimed thus to protect the trade along the Roman roads to the north.

Between 1174 and 1175 an attack by Barbarossa was resisted, with some help from Genoa, the Lega Lombarda and the Pope.

In 1183, after the Peace of Costanza, the city was briefly called Cesarea (by imperial order).

In 1198, Alessandria became a free city. Almost the entire 13th century was marked by economic progress, which led, among other things, to the construction of the Palazzo del Pretorio (today’s Palatium Vetus). Part of this prosperity was achieved through the activities of the Order of the Umiliati, monks who worked in the yarn trade.

After this, Alessandria passed through various hands (the Visconti, the Sforza), before becoming, although administratively largely independent, part of the Duchy of Milan.

In 1535 Milan (and thus Alessandria) came under Spain, which would last until 1706. Despite administrative incompetence, during this time the city steadily developed into a trading center and military base.

In 1706 the troops of Savoy expelled the Spaniards and in 1713, with the Treaty of Utrecht, Alessandria officially became the property of the Kingdom. A period of great prosperity followed and the city was reconstructed, the old center flattened and the hexagonal Cittadella built (1728).

In 1796 Vittorio Amedeo III was defeated by Napoleon and in 1802 Alessandria was annexed to France. In 1814 the city the Austrians took over, after which Alessandria returned to the hands of the Savoy and became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia.

After the unification of Italy, Alessandria became the provincial capital. Industry continued to develop and by the end of the 19th century the slums had been razed to the ground and the city walls demolished.

Alessandria’s greatest success story was the millinery of Giuseppe Borsalino and in 2006 the city even opened a museum dedicated to this famous hat.

Alessandria, Region of Piedmont