Town in the low Monferrato in province of Alessandria, located between the Padana Valley and Piedmont, between the hillside and the Po, the old town of Casale Monferrato features monuments in Romanesque and Gothic style, as well as being an important commercial and industrial centre.
The discovery of some findings supports the theory that the first settlement was of Roman origins, whilst according to the tradition the founding of the village is due to the Lombard King Liutprand. In the XII century, Frederick Barbarossa authorized its autonomy, but it did not last long: after some years of instability in 1215, the whole town was destroyed and conquered by the forces of Savoy, of Alessandria and of Milan, which were allied to Vercelli. In the XIV century the town was ceded to the bishop of Vercelli and in the XV century it passed to the Marquis Paleologi, who made it become the main centre of the Monferrato area. The cultural and artistic atmosphere that Casale lived at that stage was intense and lively: convents were created for the education of young people and an 'important school of painting was founded. In 1533, after the death of the last heir of the Paleologi Family, the fief was occupied by the troops of Charles V and fell to the Gonzaga, who transformed the city into a military fortress with fortified walls and moats against the expansionist aims of the Savoy. During the fighting between France and Spain for control of the city, the center was besieged four times in the XVIII century and was finally incorporated in the Kingdom of Savoy under Victor Amadeus II. The Savoy demolished most of the fortifications and transformed them into new residential centers with noble buildings.
Not to miss:
- the Cathedral, built in Romanesque-Lombard style in 1107, it was seriously damaged by a fire in 1215, restored, it was renovated by the architect Mella in the late XIX century. It features five aisles, supported by pillars and bell towers of the XIII century.
- the Church of San Domenico, built in 1472, commissioned by William VIII Paleologi, in Late Gothic style and enlarged in the XVIII century. On the façade a beautiful stone portal built in 1505. Inside it preserves XVIII century paintings of Guala, a engraved tombstone of Sammicheli, which dates back to 1527 and a pulpit of Gasperini dating from the XVIII century.
- the Church of Sant'Antonio Abate, it features a single nave and side chapels. It was built in the mid-XVI century, where once stood the ancient church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. It was completely restored in the XIX century.
- the Church of San Filippo Neri, built on a design of Guala in XVII-XVIII century, it features a Greek cross plan and preserves numerous paintings.
- the XVIII century church of the Addolorata, designed by Magnocavallo.
- the Baroque Church of Santo Stefano, designed in 1653 by Guala, and features inside paintings of the same artist and of the artist Cairo.
- the Castle of Paleologi, a XV century construction, built by Sammicheli on the ruins of an existing building of the XIV century. Enlarged by Gonzaga in 1561, it was transformed into a military depot in the XVIII century. It is located on the square, which features the same name.
- the Synagogue, originally built in the late XVI century, it is located where once stood the ghetto. Today it houses the Jewish Museum, decorated in silver of the XVII and XVIII centuries, and the library.
- the Palace of Anna d'Alençon, regent of the Marquisate, after the death of her husband, William IX. A late Gothic building with a courtyard-portico of the XV century. Inside it features a large room with coffered wooden ceiling, painted with the iconography of the Marquis of Monferrato.
- House Tornielli, a XIV century building in Gothic style, which features a beautiful façade interrupted by single-light windows and a portal of the XVI century, attributed to Sammicheli.
- the Palace Gambera-Mellana with its beautiful courtyard.
- the Town Hall, built in 1778 by Robilant. It features an entrance with a vault supported by columns and a grand staircase with two flights of stairs. Inside it preserves a series of rooms with important frescoes.
- the Palace Gozzani of Treville, a baroque building erected in the early XVIII century by Giovanni Battista Scapitta, it has beautiful paintings inside and features a , a fresco on the ceiling of the staircase of Pier Francesco Guala. The first floor now houses the Accademia Filarmonica.
- the Torre Civica, a restyling of 1512 attributed Sammicheli of a tower dating from the XI century.