A municipality in the province of Alexandria, located on the right bank of the stream Scrivia and lapped by the river Ossona, the municipal territory of Tortona, is protected by the Ligurian Apennines and , consists of several districts and villages. The particular location between three major northern cities, Turin, Milan and Genoa, reinforces its strategic position from the perspective of connections.
The discovery in the area of many interesting findings support the theory that the area was inhabited since the Neolithic Ages. Between the VII and V centuries B.C. the area was chosen by the Ligurian population to build a settlement. The Romans occupied and colonized the area in 120 B.C. and Tortona became a strategic crossroads of the great Roman roads. Protagonist of important historical events such as the deposition and murder of the Roman Emperor Maggioriano; it was a Bishopric since the early Christian era, managing to acquire independence from the bishop during the XI century. Due to its location, the town was highly contended and was main reason for several clashes. Over the centuries it submitted the rule of Theodoric, the Visconti from 1347, the Sforza until the XVI century, the Spanish in the XVII century and the Savoy in 1738. A few years later it became part of the French domain, until it was re-conquered by the Savoy in 1814.
Always characterized by a strong local identity in the XIV century the statutes were drafted by the local citizens and validated by Galeazzo Visconti. The centre also underwent sieges and destruction, such as the one operated by Frederick Babarossa in 1155 and in the XVII century, when it was part of the Spanish domain, a strong explosion destroyed a large part of town. Napoleon in 1801 ordered the destruction of the castle and fortifications, and later, during the Second World War, the town was partially destroyed by the air raids.
Not to miss:
- the church of Santa Maria dei Canali, which is the oldest in the town , built between the XI and XII centuries. It was restored in the mid XIX century and retains traces of the Renaissance with valuable frescoes and paintings of the XVI and XVII centuries;
- the Church of St. Matthew, an imposing square building that includes also the remains of the ancient Roman mausoleum entitled to Maggioriano. It preserves inside a medieval wooden crucifix and a Madonna with Child by Barnaba da Modena, an artwork dated back to the XIV century;
- the Cathedral, which features a façade enriched by two levels of columns and topped by a curved pediment;
- the recently rebuilt Capuchin Church, which contains rich artworks from the XVI to the XIX centuries;
- the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Guardia;
- the Church of Santa Giustina;
- the Church of San Giacomo;
- the Abbey of Santa Maria;
- the Roman tombs, the remains of the Roman bridge, the remains of walls dating to the I century B.C. and situated on the hill near to the castle;
- the Bishop's Palace, built in 1584, features a fine marble portal and a triptych from the late XV century and a XVII century canvas of the artist Moncalvo;
- the XV century Palazzo Guidobono, restored in the XX century, in Gothic style;
- the Civic Theatre, built in 1838.