Asti was built by the Romans (as Hasta Pompeia), although the first real foundation is attributable to Ligurian people who had previously founded a village exactly corresponding to the current city. Some sections of the ancient walls are still present in the northern part of the city, and during the twentieth century, the excavation revealed another section of the Roman walls in the city centre.
After Torino, Asti is the main artistic city of Piedmont, and the guardian of a rich artistic and architectural heritage. The city in particular has the largest low middle ages architectural heritage of the region, a memory of what was once the most powerful town of Piedmont. There are numerous towers, fortified houses, churches, domus and palaces. From the Roman period there still remain the Red Tower, probable vestiges of the western gate of the Roman walls, the domus of Via Varrone, the remains of the amphitheater, the baths and the forum.
From the Romanesque period of considerable interest are the crypts of St Anastasius and St Secondo (seventh century) in which the bodies of the patron saint and of Saint John are preserved. In the eastern part of the city you can admire the complex of St.
Pietro in Consavia, based in the medieval priory of the Jerusalemites of Lombardy.
From the low middle ages there are the majestic Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which besides being the largest church in the region, thanks to its stylistically refined decorations is considered the most important Gothic cathedral of Piedmont, the collegiate church of San Secondo, where the relics of the patron saint of the city are preserved, the parish church of Viatosto, the church of Santa Maria Nuova and the church of Our Lady of the Gates, which keeps inside it the mediaeval gate of San Marco. Among the major mediaeval buildings, towers and fortified houses we should mention the palazzo Catena, palazzo Zoya, the palazzo del Podesta' or of the Municipality, the Asinari tower, Comentina tower, the Gazzelli tower and palace, the De Regibus tower, the Guttuari tower, the Natta tower and palazzi, the Quartero tower, Solaro tower, and the Torre Civica (Troyana tower). Also in the north western part of the city you can see a section of the ancient walls used for defence in medieval times.
There are few architectural remains from the Renaissance period. The most important is certainly the Malabaila palace, which in the sixteenth century was home to Louis XII during his stay in the city.
From the Baroque period there are many palaces and churches in Asti thanks to the considerable momentum created by presence of the architect Benedetto Alfieri. Highlights are the church of St. Catherine, St. Paul's Church, St. Martin's Church, the Church of San Silvestro, the church of San Rocco, the brotherhood church of the Holy Trinity and Sant'Evasio, the church of the Consolata and the adjoining Cistercian monastery.
Among the most important baroque buildings are the Ottolenghi palace, the Town Hall, palazzo Mazzetti, palazzo Verasis-Asinari and also the former Brotherhood Church of St. Michael and the former St. Joseph's Church.
The old town still has the medieval structure, with its almost circular layout and the characteristic tower-houses. It is the economic and cultural capital of the Langhe, the name of the typical ridges that give an unmistakable character to the hills between the valleys of the Tanaro and Bormida. Already inhabited in prehistoric times, torn from the Ligurians by theGauls of Belloveso, it became a Roman municipality around 80 BC and passed over the centuries to the Marquises of Monferrato, to the Visconti, the Gonzaga, and finally to Savoy. It was awarded a gold medal for military valour for the resistance to the Nazi-fascist invasion: it was the "Free Republic of Alba" from 10 October to 2 November 1944.
The Archaeological and Natural Science Museum "Federico Eusebio" is certainly worth a visit. It has 1500 items (tools, axes, polished stone hatchets and ceramics) from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age found during excavations in the last century, and which demonstrate the importance of the settlement that existed in prehistoric times in the area of the present-day city centre. also it houses material from the Roman period such as oil lamps, funerary furnishings, urns, coins, and different kinds of ceramics from Campania, Arezzo, Italic lands and the lands of the South Gauls.
Among the events we recall first of all the truffle fair. From the first to the third Sunday in October. Created in the period between the wars by the hotelier Giacomo Morra, it has an international reputation. It is dedicated to the white truffle or truffle of Alba, an exclusive speciality of Italian cuisine, which has its main area in Piedmont and especially in the forests of Langhe. It is discovered and unearthed by "trifulau" (collectors), who trade it at the fair. It may be worth up to 100 euros for one hundred grammes. It grows in early autumn until the first snowfall.
The underground cathedrals are the historic cellars of Canelli, about 15km from the hotel. They are cellars dug into the tufa in past centuries that go down to 32 meters underground through the entire Canelli hill and the entire city for more than 20 km. They are called Cathedrals because they create surreal and evocative environments and are real masterpieces of engineering and wine-making architecture.
The underground cathedrals
Thousands of bottles of fine wine are left to ferment there at a constant temperature of 12-14 degrees, to take on the aromas and flavours typical of sparkling wine and of the Canelli wine in cells with vaulted brick ceilings dating back to the early nineteenth century. They have recently been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as part of the city of Canelliassieme with similar constructions called there Infernot, being unique goods and not traceable in no other place in the world (a basic requirement for admission), and being admitted concurrently with that of the larger territories (to which they belong) of Monferrato, Roero and Langhe.