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Alba

Description

Historical capital of the Langhe, in the province of Cuneo, Alba is an important town of the Piedmont region, located along the left bank of the river Tanaro. The area was inhabited since the Neolithic ages, as evidenced by the several interesting discoveries, recently brought to the light. The Roman colonization met a strong resistance by the Ligurians, which started in 190 B.C. and was finalized only in 173 B.C. The settlement enlarged and named "Alba Pompeia" acquired a decisive strategic and commercial role and was administered independently with its own magistrates. The massive polygonal fortified walls were built by the Romans and were further strengthened by the Lombards and the Franks in the Middle Ages. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Alba was the victim of continuous looting by the barbarian tribes: the town, in fact, submitted a period of economic decline and population aging. In 976, Otto I granted the territories of the Langhe to Aleramo I. Under this domain the town submitted a period of peace and stability of government in which agriculture and trade flourished and the inhabitants gained a certain autonomy. In 1158, Alba was reached by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who rewarded the loyalty of the inhabitants with several privileges and encouraged their self-government. The City began its territorial expansion, new fortifications were built and rich noble families started to built here their residences. The large extension of the territory of Alba was divided into seven districts "Camparie" and six castles were built in the surrounding hills to defend the city. The entire City of Alba was reinforced stronger fortified walls and watchtowers to better withstand eventual attacks and several monasteries, churches and even six hospitals were founded.
In 1259 the inhabitants allied with Charles of Anjou against Asti. Subsequently followed a period characterized by constant internal conflicts between Guelphs and Ghibellines, who were competing to ensure the dominance of the city: at the same time at war with Asti for the dominion of the valley of the Tanaro, it alternated alliances with the other noble families of the area: the Aleramici, the Angevin and the Visconti. In 1369, it became part of the orbit of the Paleologo which the Aleramici had previously inherited from the Marquis of Monferrato. In the first half of the XVI century, Alba was the scenario of bloody clashes between the French and Spanish. With the peace of Cateau-Cambresis, Alba was granted to the Gonzaga of Mantua, while later, in the first half of the XVII century, it was ceded to the Savoy. After a parentheses of Jacobin domain, a particularly difficult for the citizens, both in terms of deaths and for the destruction of several historical buildings, in the XIX century the reconstruction of the city began and the task was entrusted to the architect Giorgio Busca.
Sites of Interest:
- the ancient defensive towers, several of which are incorporated between the buildings;
- Palazzo of the Town Hall in Piazza Risorgimento, in which are preserved frescoes from the XIV century taken from the Church of San Domenico and a beautiful XVI century painting depicting the Virgin and Child;
- the XVI century Church of St. John the Baptist, in the Baroque style, features a fine and elegant coffered ceiling and is rich in masterpieces of art, among which a table of Barnaba da Modena (1377) depicting the "Madonna delle Grazie", an "Adoration of Our Lady and Saints "of Macrino d'Alba (1508), which is associated with a" Madonna and Child with Saints Augustine and Lucia ", attributed to the same artist. Noteworthy also is an inlaid wooden bench of the late XVI century;
- the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, built in the X century, in Romanesque style, has been profoundly altered in later centuries. The current façade dates back to 1878. Of particular value are the choir stalls, carved and inlaid by the Bernardino between 1512 and 1517. Another extraordinary piece of craftsmanship and sculpture are the great Baroque wardrobes of the Sacristy, realized in the XVIII century. The Sacristy, also preserves an elegant polychrome bas-relief of the "Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and St. John the Apostle," an 1507 artwork of Giovanni Lorenzo Sormani from Como. The Bell Tower with mullioned windows in Romanesque style, was built in the early decades of the XIII century;
- the Church of Mary Magdalene, a small jewel of Baroque style built by Bernardo Antonio Vittone;
- the Church of San Domenico, built in the late XIII century, features a façade divided into three parts by pilasters, with a central rosette window. Inside are preserved a series of XV century frescoes;
- the Shrine of Our Lady of Moretta;
- the Museum "Federico Eusebio".

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