Saluzzo in Piedmont, Italy
Saluzzo in Piedmont, Italy, takes visitors back in time when the town was the seat of a dynasty of fourteen marquises.
The Piedmont region of Italy was kept under pressure for about five centuries by Saluzzo and its marquises who maintained close ties with neighboring France.
Meet Piemonte arranges private tours of Saluzzo in Piedmont, Italy, and the surrounding territory set at the foot of the Alps.
A tour of Saluzzo can include the Castello della Manta and Staffarda abbey, as well as the town of Savigliano.
Saluzzo is a few miles away from the Natural Park of Monviso, the highest peak of western Alps which can be reached through the scenic Val Varaita.
A popular outdoor destination for summer and winter sports, these alpine valleys are perfect for food tours. Meet Piemonte can arrange cheese tastings in dairy farms producing local delicacies such as Castelmagno and Tumin del Mel.
Things to do in Saluzzo, Italy
The driving distance to get to Saluzzo from Alba or Turin is approximately 49 km and it takes about 1 hour, crossing the fertile plain covered with orchards where apples and kiwis are cultivated.
There are many things to do in Saluzzo, including museums and walking around a town that looks like the set of a fairytale movie.
The upper part of the medieval town is dominated by the fortress, called La Castiglia, dating back to the XI century. It held, once, the power of the marquis and over time its towers and thick walls were used for different purposes. In facts, it became a prison and today is a cultural center for temporary exhibitions and home for the Historical Archive.
What to see in Saluzzo? One of the iconic building is the Civic Tower which can be climbed and it lies next to the Palace of Liberal Arts. From the top of the tower one can enjoy views over rooftops and toward the Alps which stand behind the town as to defend it.
Among things to do in Saluzzo, Italy there are the picturesque Piazza Mondagli and Piazza San Nicola with the baroque church of the same name.
In the lower part of town, the tour guide will point the exterior of the Bishop Palace, whose ground floor was once used as stores. Next to it, via Carrera is easily recognizable for the lower and dark porticoes, typical of Saluzzo.
Things to do in Saluzzo: finding the city walls
Three rings of walls were built in different times in order to contain the size of the city which continues to grow throughout centuries.
Some of the original gates to access the city are still standing, with their peculiar pointed arches.
Santa Maria gate, for instance, belonged to the walls of 1379 and one can still notice its double sides, needed for holding the drawbridge.
Vacca gate also survived to centuries of reconstructions but nothing is left of the first ring of wall dating back to the 1250.
The Cathedral of Saluzzo in Piedmont, Italy
The Cathedral of Saluzzo is facing the 1800s part of the city, which today is the commercial centre.
Inside the church many styles are standing next to each other, from baroque to neo-gothic, including a work of art of Hans Clemer.
Completed in the 1500s, the altarpiece was commissioned by one of the marquis and it contains elements of Flemish art, such as the vivid colors, and influence from the Provencal tradition, like the elegant portraits.
Things to do in Saluzzo: San Giovanni church
San Giovanni church shows the signs of several renovations including the one that shifted the orientation of the building of 90°. It is decorated with medieval frescoes brought back to light after recent interventions that removed layers of plaster.
Moreover, San Giovanni church in Saluzzo boasts a precious funerary monument sculpted by Antoine Le Mortorier.
This artist originally from Avignon, in France, worked as well for the King of France and he was a master of flamboyant gothic style.
Casa Cavassa, a gem of Saluzzo and Piedmont
Casa Cavassa, is a gem of Saluzzo and of the whole Piedmont region in Italy. It is a museum that holds some of the few and most important works of art of the Renaissance period, available in the region.
Casa Cavassa used to be the house of the General Administrator of the Marquis. The highlight of the museum is a painting by Flemish artist Hans Clemer, named the Virgin of Mercy.
Painted on wood between 1499 and 1500, Clemer expressed the high profile of his commissioner by using a considerable amount of gold.
Clemer is also the author of the frescoes on the courtyard wall, called “grisaille” from the French word “gris”, because is entirely made with different shades of grey.
Castello della Manta, near Saluzzo
A must-see of Piedmont, in the territory surrounding Saluzzo, is the Castello della Manta.
Castello della Manta was first built as a military fortress controlled by the marquises and it was then enlarged in the XV century by Valerano, the first member of a side branch of the family of the marquises of Saluzzo.
The Baronial Hall boasts the highlight of this castle: a fresco made by unknown artist which takes the entire length of the wall.
Castello della Manta and its frescoes
Named “Nine Worthies and Heroines” the fresco cycle is a masterpiece of chivalric tradition, very much appreciated by aristocrats in the 1400s.
Each of the characters depicted on the fresco, was inspired from the novel “Les Chevaliers Errants” written in 1394 by Tommaso III, the father of Valerano.
On the opposite side of the same room, one admires “The fountain of Youth” whose written title blocks, characters with curious face expressions and the dynamism of the composition, make the work of art very unique.
The abbey of Staffarda, near Saluzzo, in Piedmont
The abbey of Staffarda is located a few miles from Saluzzo and it is a great place for plunging in evocative medieval atmospheres of the Cistercian monks.
Construction of the site took place between 1122 and 1138. Monks worked hard draining swamps and making the abbey an important economic asset of the region.
While the abbey of Staffarda collected wealth and became bigger, monks lifestyle always followed strict and harsh rules such as poverty, labor and hermitage.
Things to do in Saluzzo: the abbey of Staffarda
Inside the abbey is worth a visit the altarpiece by Pascale Oddone, dating 1531 that illuminates the high altar of the church.
The building itself reflects the simple life of its monks through an architecture in a plain Romanesque-gothic style.
The tour includes the evocative cloister, the Abbot Hall, the dining hall, the workshop and the kitchen.
The town of Savigliano in Italy, is halfway between Alba and Saluzzo, in the heart of the plains of Cuneo where local bovine breeds called Fassona are raised, as well as crops with cereals and fruit.
Free Commune since 1100, Savigliano expanded due to its favorable position, exploiting water coming from different alpine rivers and used in agriculture and other handicrafts.
The golden age of Savigliano was the XVII century when aristocrat families living in town hired well-known artists to embellish their homes and churches. Among painters who worked in Savigliano, there are Boetto, Molinari and Claret.
Things to do in Savigliano, Italy
There are many things to do in Savigliano, Italy, a short drive away from Saluzzo.
The Main Hall of Palazzo Taffini d’Acceglio boasts a fresco cycle dedicated to Vittorio Amedeo I of Savoy and its victories in eastern Piedmont (Monferrato). These frescoes stand out for being painted like fabric the folds on the walls and over door frames, giving the impression of being tapestries.
The central square of Savigliano is Piazza Santarosa, the oldest part of the town, framed by porticoes and palaces decorated with terracotta tiles, wooden ceilings, remains of medieval frescoes, triforas and small votive niches.
In the square lies the monument to Santorre Santarosa, a leader of the revolutionary fights of 1821, a first step toward the Unification of Italy.
Things to do in Savigliano include as well the Benedictine monastery of S. Pietro, the church of S. Andrea, Palazzo Muratori Cravetta, the Civic Tower and the ancient City Hall.
Moreover, the former Dominican monastery preserves the Chapel of the Rosary with parts of frescoes dating back to 1636, attributed to Jean Claret. In facts, the monastery became overtime a sort of mausoleum for the majority of wealthy families of Savigliano who invested in precious works of art.
Savigliano, Italy and the train museum
Savigliano, in Italy is a great spot for train lovers. The Museo Ferroviario di Savigliano features a large collection of locomotives and passenger cars which are still perfectly working.
The Museum is dedicated to the engineers of Piedmont who planned and built the Frejus alpine tunnel connecting Italy to France.
A strong tie between Savigliano and trains goes back to 1853 when the city became part of the railroad line Turin – Cuneo. Since then, in Savigliano was open a large train plant for the construction and maintenance of most Italian trains. Originally owned by FIAT, today Alstom gives birth in the same plant to high-speed trains.
Things to do in Savigliano, Italy: Gipsoteca Calandra
Gipsoteca Calandra is a plaster cast gallery dedicated to Davide Calandra, an artist born in Savigliano.
The gallery features many statues, drawings, terracotta artifacts, projects and casts including Calandra’s most famous work: the frieze for the Italian Parlament Hall of Montecitorio Palace in Rome, made in 1910.
The museum is hosted inside the former Franciscan convent with an elegant 1700s cloister.