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Saluzzo is a small town in the province of Cuneo, in the Piedmont region of north-west Italy.
The town has kept much of its 15th century old town intact, located on a hill and originally enclosed by a double ring of walls. The historic centre of Saluzzo includes a whole series of cobbled streets, steep staircases, churches and elegant palaces to explore and admire.
Your visit to Saluzzo can start in the Piazza Risorgimento with the Cathedral of the Assumption, built between 1491 and 1511 on the site of the ancient church of Santa Maria. Inside the cathedral there are various works of art including a wooden 14th century crucifix, a Baroque altar by Carlo Giuseppe Plura [1665-1737 approx.], a 15th century triptych by Hans Clemer in the chapel of the Santissimo and a 16th century terracotta group depicting the "Deposition".
Passing through the Saint Mary Gate and along the street called Portici Scur you reach the Piazza Mondagli which is one of the most picturesque squares in Saluzzo old town. Here you can see the Public Library, the Monastery of the Annunciation and a house with some distinctive medieval arcades where the writer Silvio Pellico was born.
From here take the route from the pillar representing Saint Chiaffredo, the patron saint for Saluzzo, and across the Muletti and Valoria Superiore streets to reach the 'Ascent to the Castle' which is the original center of life in Saluzzo. Here you can see elegant 15th century palaces, marked by open galleries, arcades, frescoes and terracotta decorations of the ancient “Zecca” and “Palazzo Comunale”, and dominated by a square tower that was built in 1462 (see below).
An especially notable attraction of the medieval town is the Piazza Castello, with the historic fountain called Drancia at the center, and topped by the imposing shape of the tower of the Castiglia and the lower castle of the Marquis. Castiglia was built in 1270 by the Marquis Tommaso I at the summit of the village.
The castle was radically renovated in 1492 by Ludovico II, for the arrival of his second wife Marguerite de Foix (1458-1486). He renewed the furniture and decorations and also added the garden and the round tower. The castle was used as a prison from the early 19th century until 1992.
Also worth visiting is the Civic Tower in Saluzzo, built in 1462 as a symbol of the city community. The height was later raised by the addition of the polygonal point which was in turn topped by a spire with the emblem of Saluzzo, the vane and an eagle. Inside the tower the bell was originally kept that marked the hours of city life. At 48 meters high, the loggia of the tower has an excellent vantage point over the city and the plains.
Continuing onwards, the Church of Saint Giovanni was built and transformed from the 12th – 16th centuries and contains art treasures in its three beautiful aisles culminating with the burial chapel of the Marquis, a masterpiece of the flamboyant Gothic style that was added in the second half of the 15th century.
From the annexed convent, dominated by the bell tower, continue to the refectory with a great 16th-century fresco of the Crucifixion, and to the Chapter room containing the Funeral chapel of the Cavassa, built around 1510.
Continuing towards Via San Giovanni you arrive at Casa Cavassa, today a Museum but in the 15th century the stately house of Francesco and Galeazzo Cavassa, the general vicars of the Marquis. Restored at the end of 19th century, Cavassa has a series of rooms with painted wooden ceilings, decorated walls and furniture, frescoes and paintings including the 'Madonna of Mercy', a masterpiece by Hans Clemer (1480-1512).
Next to Casa Cavassa is the palace of the Marquis of the Carretto, where you can admire the panorama of the Monte Viso. Nearby is the Church of S. Bernard (14th - 16th century) from where you reach Griselda Street, dedicated to the protagonist of a story of the 'Decameron' by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375).
This road is flanked with 18th-century buildings and leads to the town hall, built in 1726 as a Jesuit college by Francesco Gallo. In San Nicola Street you can see the church of Saint Nicholas and the Brotherhood of Mercy (also known as "Black Cross"), built in 1761 in Baroque style, with a brick façade and a double row of columns.
Traditions and local attractions
One highlight of note to visit near Saluzzo is the medieval Staffarda Abbey, and you can also visit the Castello della Manto just south of the town to admire the frescoes in this austere medieval fortress.
Finally we must recommend you complete your visit with the cuisine of Saluzzo which offers a number of interesting local products, including some cheeses such as the so-called "paglierine" and other cheeses from the Alps. Among the most popular meat dishes try those of Cavour or the 'white hen' of Saluzzo.
To complete your meal with sweets we have to mention "Batiaje", the "Losette" and "Risole" while for wines, try the red wines called Pelaverga, Quaglia, Nebbiolo and Barbera.
See also history of Saluzzo
You can find more local travel ideas in the Piedmont guide.