Saluzzo is mentioned for the first time in 1028, in a document in which it is quoted as a "castrum" (fortress) belonging to the Marquis of Turin, Olderico Manfredi of the “Arduinici” family.
However, some scholars, according to archaeological remains from Roman times, have suggested that Saluzzo was an area of ancient settlement, probably dating from the Iron Age.
Saluzzo from Roman times
In Roman times, during the Imperial age, Saluzzo was also called “Ager Salutiensis”, and belonged to the “IX Regio Augusta Taurinorum“ (Turin).
With the dissolution of the Carolingian Empire, Saluzzo became the Royal Court for King Berengar (c.850 - 924), then passed from the power of the “Arduinici”, a powerful family of Piedmontese origin, to the “Aleramici”, a family who had some feuds in Monferrato, Acqui and Savona.
On the death of Bonifacio del Vasto (1142), Saluzzo passed to his son Manfredi (1125-1175), who is considered the ancestor of the Marquis of Saluzzo. The Marquisate was not very strong and powerful, but his Lords knew how to manoeuvre, enabling them to rule for four centuries, a period during which they also gave important artistic and cultural impulses to Saluzzo.
The Marquisate of Saluzzo reached its greatest power in the 15th century, under the governments of Ludovico I (1416-1475) and Ludovico II (1438-1504), when an economic expansion and increasing prosperity, guaranteed by a long period of internal and external peace, corresponded with the splendor of the arts in the city. In 1511, the city obtained the establishment of the Diocese from Pope Julius II (1443-1513).
In the next century began the decline of Saluzzo. Overwhelmed by wars between the French and Imperial forces the small State was finally annexed to the Duchy of Savoy with the Treaty of Lyons in 1601.
In the 18th century there was an economic recovery and the city expanded on to the plains, then under the Kingdom of Sardinia it was also the provincial capital. Under Napoleonic rule (1796-1814), it was annexed to the French kingdom in the Department of “Stura”, finally becoming part of the the kingdom of Italy with the creation of the Kingdom at the end of the 19th century.
Origins of the name Saluzzo
The hypothesis about the etymology of Saluzzo are conflicting, and so we do not have unequivocal solutions, although in some cases they are very similar. We only mention here the most credible hypothesis, the first of which asserts that Saluzzo derives from the word "Sales", with reference to the “Salii”, a Ligurian people, and “hutum” ("hut", “cabin”), so by which Saluzzo indicates “the Salii’s huts” or “Village of the Salii” .
For other scholars, however, the first part of the name "Sal-" refers to a term "sala", of Germanic origin, which is synonymous with "settlement", or "village." Another hypothesis asserts that the name derives from "Sallustius".
For completeness, however, we note that, in the Imperial Age Saluzzo was also called "Ager Salutiensis", so some scholars have thought of a related etymology to the Latin term "Salus" ("health"), with reference to a source of particularly healthy water that had to be located in the territory of Saluzzo; however, the first two scenarios have greater credit among scholars.
See the Saluzzo travel guide.
1. See G.. Gerbotto, “Saluzzo e dintorni: guida storico-artistica e turistica”, Saluzzo, 1970 [G.. Gerbotto, "Saluzzo and Surroundings: Art History and Tourist Guide”, Saluzzo, 1970]