The Asti area is rich in history, tradition and works of art, and should be thoroughly explored.
The first stage of any tour must be Asti, one of the most important cities of art in Piedmont and birthplace of Vittorio Alfieri, the famous 18th century poet and dramatist. The old town is picturesque and charming, opening onto the triangular shaped Piazza Alfieri, where the town’s famous Palio (horse race) is staged.
Among the architectural landmarks are noble palaces, towers and ancient churches, and the magnificent Gothic Cathedral.
The northern part of the territory offers a fascinating route retracing the ancient Via Fracigena to discover quaint towns, such as Cortazzone with its Romanesque church, Montechiaro with the Santi Nazario e Celso church, Passerano Marmorito with its castle and Cocconato. The Medieval churches surrounded by the countryside of Asti are enchanting, such as the Church of San Lorenzo in Montiglio and the Abbey of Santa Maria di Vezzolano in Albugnano, one of the best examples of the Romanesque style in Piedmont.
All over the territory there are imposing castles, ancient dwellings of local nobles, such as the Castigliole d’Asti castle, which every year hosts the “asta del barbera” (Barbera wine auction). Of particular interest is also the majestic Gancia Castle – visits inside are not allowed – overlooking Canelli, which is famous for the production of Asti Spumante.
In this land, turned over to viniculture, the museums of rural life are worth visiting, such as the Museum of Ancient Trades in the splendid Castle of Cisterna d’Asti and the “Museo Bersano delle Contadinerie e delle Stampe Antiche” (a museum of old peasant ways and antique prints relevant to wine history) in Nizza Monferrato.
An important religious center is Castelnuovo Don Dosco, where the Colle don Bosco is located, the birthplace of Saint Giovanni Bosco; the sanctuary dedicated to him draws pilgrims from all over the world.