The town's name probably derives from Nice or Nicias, with reference to the name of the Greek goddess Nike. Since 1500 Nizza was known as Nicea della Paglia, due to the presence in town of houses with straw thatched roofs, which is now only an internal celing feature, present in some old buildings. It is a municipality in the province of Asti, located in the heart of Monferrato, in the Valley Belbo, named so because it is crossed by the stream with the same name. Between Alessandria, Asti and Alba, Nizza is an agricultural and commercial center of great importance, thanks to the production of famous DOC labeled wines, such as: Brachetto, Barbera, Dolcetto, Moscato, etc... The municipality, located on an almost completely flat area, is composed of several hamlets and districts. Suggestive is the Via Maestra with its arcades of shops, surrounded by XVIII and XIX century buildings.
Although mentioned for the first time in a document of 1021, the official foundation date results only in the XVIII century, when the small settlement was enlarged around the ancient Abbey of San Giovanni in Lanero. In 1227 Nizza was the center of a clash between Alessandria and Asti and ended up divided between the two. In 1264, after being proclaimed municipality, it became part of the dominion of the Marquis of Monferrato. It was besieged by the troops of Charles I of Anjou and until the XV century, it was subject to various dominations: the Marquis of Saluzzo, the King of Naples Charles II, the Marquis Palaeologo. In the XIV century it was devastated by the troops of the Count of Armagnac and subsequently became a possession of the Gonzaga. After a period of remarkable economic development during the XVII century, the town had to face several difficulties: it found itself at the centre of a struggle between the Duke of Savoy and the Duke of Nevers, was scourged by plague and famine; assigned to the Duke of Mantua, sacked and damaged by the Spanish and French, until, in 1647, it was destroyed by the Aragonese; and later it was depleted by debts of Carlo Gonzaga. In 1708, finally it returned to its splendor under the dominion of the Savoy.
Not to miss:
- the Church of San Giovanni Lanero, dating back to 1772 and has three naves, Large and bright, it features a façade with a superb pediment and columns and is flanked by a Bell tower is in Romanesque style. Inside it preserves altars and furnishings that belonged to the old church of San Giovanni, demolished in the first half of the XIX century.
- the Church of San Siro, built in 1311 in Baroque style. The building has submitted various enlargements and today features three naves divided by polychrome marble balustrades and ceilings full of frescoes, plasterwork and decorations. In the chancel are preserved two famous paintings, depicting Christ King of Crida and Coena Domini of the artist Dalle Ceste.
- the Church of St. Ippolito, already present in the XIII century, was rebuilt in the XVIII century and decorated in later periods. It features a valuable altar with painting of St. Ippolito. The façade is characterized by a portal timber embellished with a marble frame, the spaces are punctuated by two stories of columns topped by a bezel embellished with a cross. At the center there is a mosaic of St. Ippolito, above which is placed a clock. The chancel area is bordered by a balustrade made of polychrome marble and features two wooden confessionals and a basin for holy water in marble, that with all the other furnishings belonged to the ancient church of San Giovanni and dating back to 1476.
- the Church of Our Lady of the Snow was built in 1757, on the hill where once stood the castle,.
- the ancient Church of San Michele built at an earlier time to the foundation of the town.
- the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto, founded and expanded in the XVII century.
- the Oratory of the Holy Trinity dates back to 1448 and enlarged in the first half of the XVI century.
- the Church of St. Anne.
- the Town Hall and the Tower, dating back to 1353, have been renovated several times over the centuries, but preserve the brick features. The building has two floors and a large porch below.
- Palazzo De Benedetti dating from the XVIII century.
- Palazzo Crova, built in the XVIII century, is the work of the architect Robilant and currently houses, among other things, the City Library and the Regional wine museum.
- the Forum Boario, built in the late XIX century, today hosts important folk and culinary demonstrations.
- The Hospital of the Holy Spirit, of ancient origins, hosts inside a small church with the same name.