In order to discover Piemonte, we suggest you a walk in the province of Cuneo, in a small town that lies at the foot of the Alps, a few miles from the French border, and that was the independent capital of a marquis in the beginning of the 1100’s for four centuries : Marquis of Saluzzo.
Saluzzo is still a rich town, rich in history and monuments, but also plenty of commercial activities, tourist and craft.
After this short introduction, let’s begin our walk from one of the highest points of the city: Piazza della Castiglia.
The Castiglia, a fortified castle remodeled and amended several times, was erected in the second half in 1200. During the centuries the castle was enlarged, with ramparts and ditches, and in more recent times it became a prison, a function which it held until 1992.
I still remember when, as a child, I went walking with my parents in the old part of Saluzzo and saw the prisoners who spoke from the big windows to friends and family who stopped in the square outside the castle …
Currently, the Castile is part of the circuit Castelli Aperti and it is open to tours from March to October every Sunday from 15.00 to 19.00.
The cost of the ticket is € 5.
The visit includes an explanation about the history of the castle with the possibility to understand how it has changed over the centuries.
Unfortunately inside the castle there are few traces of its former glory.
The fact that it has been used for several years as a prison has significantly changed the nature of the building and the places where prisoners were locked up are most visible than the furniture or the paintings that would have decorated the castle during the Marquis .
|Salita al Castello|
Living the Castiglia square along Salita al Castello allow us to find, on the left, the building of the old Town Hall and the Civic Tower. To access the tower you have to turn left on Via San Giovanni and if you fancy a bit of exercise, you should climb the 130 steps of the tower; the effort will be repaid from the beautiful landscape, on a clear day, you can enjoy both towards the plain or to the mountains.
|Old Town Hall Tower|
Coming down from the tower, continue on Via San Giovanni and you will arrive in a beautiful square , which in my opinion is a gem of the old town of Saluzzo.
The charm comes from the well which is located near the center of the square and the Gothic facade of the church of San Giovanni.
This church is one of the most fascinating of Saluzzo and it here that every girl would like to get married; this in order to make a stunning entrance down the staircase that descends along the main aisle of the church.
After visiting the church you should also explore the cloister [you can access through a small door placed in the left aisle]. It ‘s a beautiful example of Gothic architecture with beautiful rooms .
|Part of San Giovanni|
Going further along Via San Giovanni , you will find Casa Cavassa, a splendid mansion residence of the Marquis of Saluzzo and subsequently donated to the General Vicar Galeazzo Cavassa from which it takes its name.
This Renaissance building whose interior features an impressive collection of furniture and relics hosted Silvio Pellico .
Even Cavassa House is inserted in the circuit Castelli Aperti and it is open all year round ( Winter hours on Monday, Tuesday , Wednesday : 13-13/15-17 , Thursday -Sunday: 10-13/14-17 ) . In summer it is open even at night , every first Saturday of the month from 21.00 to 24.00 .
The cost of the ticket is € 5.00.
A hint: there is the opportunity to buy at an affordable price (6.00 € ), the entrance ticket to the Civic Tower and the Casa Cavassa; if you are interested in visiting both sites take the opportunity.
After visiting all these beautiful architecture and before descending toward the center to a shopping trip a refreshing stop is a must.
In the old town there are several restaurants serving Piemonte specialties and the choice is really wide .
One of the restaurant we found wandering the narrow streets of the medieval town, behind the present Town Hall, is a small place we recommend : Terra Gemella.
The walk continues in the flat part of the town , where there are shops, arcades and the large and beautiful pedestrian street, Corso Piemonte .
The Cathedral is worth a visit. Although is a more recent construction than the village (end of 1400 ), it dominates the center of Saluzzo with its grandeur that is also outlined by the steps in the front.
The interior, decorated in neo-Gothic style , features works of art dating back to the XVI-XVIII century.
The most “difficult” part of the walk is the way back uphill to return to the square in front of the Castiglia.
We suggest that you pass under the arch in front of the Cathedral and go along Via dei Porti Scur (Dark arcades).
This pathway is in fact lined by two rows of arcades low and dark where the farmers brought their products to sell into the city.
Even today, sometimes there are ladies selling fruit and vegetables produced in their gardens.
At the bottom of this street there is an austere building: the pawnshop .
Keeping to the right you will come to a pretty little square: Piazza dei Mondagli. “Mondagli” is a Italianisation of the Piedmontese word Mundai (roasted chestnuts). In this square we find the house where Silvio Pellico was born on June the 25th, 1789 and where he lived for some years.
The house is open by reservation and the ticket costs € 3.00.
Leaving the house, keeping to the right we go to a rather arduous climb that will allow us to reach the Salita al Castello and here again the square of Castiglia.