Mondovì in a northern Italy tour
A tour in northern Italy can include parts of Piedmont less visited, such as the town of Mondovì.
Built on the upland whose toponym was “Mons Regalis”, Mondovì in Italy is located at the foot of the southern Alps, in proximity of the border between Piedmont and Liguria.
The surrounding territory is called “monregalese” and it goes from the nearby wine region of the Langhe hills to the plains of the province of Cuneo, in southern Piedmont.
Art lovers and history buffs find in Mondovì plenty to visit for their northern Italy tour. Once a battlefield of the House of Savoy, this part of Piedmont is rich in medieval frescoes and Baroque architecture from the XVII and XVIII century.
Moreover, the early history is related to the establishment of the diocese of Mondovì in 1388, when this part of Piedmont was taken away to the bishop of Asti.
One of the most popular day trips to Mondovì consists of the guided tour of the town in the morning, followed by the impressive dome of Vicoforte in the afternoon. These two sites are a couple of miles away from each other.
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Visit Mondovì in Italy
A visit to Mondovì in Italy begins from the lower town, known as Breo, developed along the Ellero river.
First visit is the church of S. Peter and S. Paul. The façade of the building has a unique type of clock whose mechanism is decorated with a local character named “il moro” who is popular during carnival celebrations.
Time permitting, one can walk all the way to the Baroque church of San Filippo, the first of several religious buildings designed by local architect Francesco Gallo.
Continue the visit of Mondovì, in Italy, by riding the funicular planned by the popular designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. In a few minutes, visitors get to the upper neighborhood of Mondovì called Piazza.
Mondovì Piazza is the old part of the city founded around 1198 by the inhabitants of three hamlets – Vico, Vasco and Carassone – who joined their forces and rebelled against the threats of the bishop of Asti.
This explains the name of Mondovì, which comes from Mount of Vico, the first name of this community.
Things to do in Mondovì, Italy
The central Piazza Maggiore lies on two levels and is the heart of Mondovì Piazza, the upper town.
Beautiful porticoed buildings decorated with frescoes frame the square, such as Palazzo dei Bressani, dating back to the XIII century, the Governor Palace and many others.
Among things to do in Mondovì, there is the Bishop’s Palace with precious tapestries and the historic Sala delle Lauree. In this room, in fact, was founded the University of Mondovì between 1556 and 1719.
The ancient University, as well as the geographic location and other cultural events turned Mondovì in one of the most important towns during the dukedom of the Savoy.
In 1472, for instance, in Mondovì came out the first book printed in Piedmont with modern typography, just sixteen years after the printing work of the Gutenberg Bible.
That’s why on a northern Italy tour in Piedmont, one can consider to visit the Museo della Stampa.
Other things to do in Mondovì are the visit to the works of art of local architect Francesco Gallo. He was the man who brought the Baroque style in southern Piedmont. Walking around Mondovì Piazza, for instance, one can enter the Cathedral of S. Donato and the church of Misericordia.
Thigs to do in Mondovì: la Missione
The Church of S. Francesco Saverio, known as La Missione is on the side the central Piazza Maggiore of Mondovì, in Italy.
Built by architect Boetto in the XVII century for the Jesuits, was decorated by Andrea Pozzo, a well-known artist who worked in Rome and Wien. The painter designed a fake architecture on the inner vault of the ceiling, giving the optical illusion of a much lighter and wider space.
Next to the church, stands the former Jesuits residence, the first to be opened in Piedmont in 1561, as suggested by Emanuele Filiberto, Duke of Savoy.
Today the site is home of the Palace of Justice on whose outside walls was painted an astronomic observatory with twelve sun clocks. This work dates back to 1716 and it is attributed to painter Gian Battista Rocca.
The ceramic museum of Mondovì
Mondovì, in Italy, was once a major production center of ceramics. Since the early 1800s, in fact, in this territory was developed a distinctive decoration style used by local artisans who, soon, left room to industrial operations which lasted until the 1950s.
In order to bring back to life memories of those old days, Mondovì has its own Ceramic museum.
More to visit in Mondovì, Italy
The tour of Piedmont continues through the streets of the upper Mondovì Piazza visiting the exterior of the 1700s Synagogue and the so-called Parco del Tempo.
This outdoor space displays a number of sundials and other instruments used to measure time.
Most installations are around the Civic Tower from where one can enjoy views over the western Alps, all the way to the Matterhorn and all over Piedmont.
Mondovì is also a major gathering point for air balloon festivals and the open-air Parco del Tempo is a perfect spot to see them flying.
A tour of Piedmont around Mondovì
A tour of Piedmont in Italy can continue with the territory surrounding Mondovì.
Art lovers should not miss the Santa Croce chapel, located just outside the town center of Mondovì. The inside is decorated with ancient frescoes from the 1400s and a rare example of brachial cross, a unique iconography of the middle-ages.
This work of art is attributed to a prominent painter of that time that worked across Piedmont, called Jacquerio.
Tour of Piedmont: walking from Mondovì to Vicoforte
The Santa Croce chapel is just the first of five votive buildings scattered along the country road connecting Mondovì to Vicoforte.
To complete the 4 km (2.5 mi) hike it takes about one hour.
The original project included thirteen chapels conceived for pilgrims who could stop and pray in each of them. Built in the second half of the 1800s, today only five chapels can be visited, surrounded by nice views over the hills and the Alps.
Northern Italy tour: visit Vicoforte
Only a couple of miles separate Mondovì from the dome of Vicoforte, the largest elliptical one ever built in bricks.
It was built by Francesco Gallo on the previous foundation of Ascanio Vitozzi who started two centuries earlier the project.
The dome is part of a Sanctuary commissioned by Carlo Emanuele I, duke of Savoy, as the family mausoleum.
Recently, it made the news the arrival in Vicoforte of the remains of King Vittorio Emanuele III and Queen Elena.
Learn more about the guided tour of Vicoforte.
Bastia di Mondovì and its frescoes
The province of Cuneo is rich in art. A northern Italy tour can include the small church of San Fiorenzo in the town of Bastia di Mondovì, not too far from the border between Piedmont and Liguria.
Its 326 sq meters (3509 sq ft) of frescoes dating back to the XV century, are an outstanding masterpiece of biblia pauperum, used to educate illiterate pilgrims with the story of the Bible.
The cycle of frescoes was completed by different masters, as the church was an orientation point of reference for merchants, pilgrims and soldiers who traveled between Piedmont and Liguria across the mountains.