Asti is the capital of the province of the same name in the regione Piemonte. It is located around 50 kilometers east of Turin and slightly less than 40 kilometers west of Alessandria. The city’s main claim to fame is the local spumante. Its historical center dated back to the middle ages and has given Asti the nickname “City of 100 Towers”.
Asti travel guide
Town hall: Piazza San Secondo 1 – 14100 Asti (Tel: +39 0141 399111). Tourist office: Piazza Alfieri, 34 – 14100 Asti (Tel. +39 0141 530357). Opening hours: Monday to saturday from 09.00 till 13.00 and from 14.00 till 18.00; Sundays and holidays from 09.00 till 13.00 and from 13.30 till 17.30.
How to get to Asti
By car: Asti is connected to Turin and Alessandria by the E70 highway.
By train: Asti has its own railway station on the line between Turin and Genua.
The Red Tower was constructed in the 2nd century AD and used to be part of the Roman city walls. Another reminder of this period is the ruin of the Amphitheater.
The San Secondo Church was built in the 14th century. The originally Gothic style Cathedral dates back to the 13th century, but was renovated multiple times in the course of the centuries. Other religious buildings of note are the San Pietro Church and the Michelerio Monastery. The Madonna del Portone Sanctuary was constructed by incorporating an ancient city gate.
The most interesting palaces are the Palazzo Mazzola, the Palazzo Ottolenghi and the Palazzo Faletti. The 17th century Palazzo Alfieri hosts the Museo Alfierano.
Other museums are the Jewish museum, the museum and crypt of Sant’Anastasio, the Archaeological Museum, The Museo del Palio, the Museo del Risorgimento and the San Pietro in Consavia.
Events and festivals
The famous “Palio”, documented since 1275, is bareback horse race. Twenty-one jockeys representing the 14 city villages and 7 municipalities of the province try to win the crimson velvet banner with the representation of the coat of arms and of San Secondo. The banner is painted every year by famous painters. The palio is held on the third Sunday of September.
A brief history of Asti
The territory was already inhabited in the Neolithic period. Archaeological finds, including public buildings and an ancient necropolis show that the city must already have been an important nucleus.
In the 7th century, Asti was ruled by the Lombards.
In 1095, the city became a free municipality. Emperor Conrad III of the Holy Roman Empire gave Asti the privilege to mint its own currency in 1140.
During the Middle Ages the important families of the city got caught up in the fights between Guelphs and Ghibellines.
In 1314, the House of Anjou came to power.
Until 1531, the city was a feud of various families, including the Monferrato, the Viscont and the Orléans.
Emperor Charles V then donated Asti to Beatrice of Portugal, who was married to Charles III of Savoy. With some interludes (Napoleon’s conquest, and then the Austro-Hungarian domininion), the city stayed in the hands of the Savoys until the Unification of Italy.
Nowadays, Asti is a thriving city, mostly thanks to its wine industry. Other important sources of income are agriculture, the textile industry and tourism.