In the center of Piedmont, the current area of the province of Asti includes 120 municipalities, a single city, Asti, and an almost entirely hilly territory crossed by the river Tanaro and important communications routes since Roman times. The development of this area dates back to this period, with the city of Asti in the center, an already lively commercial center. The strategic position of the city is one of the elements of the great power and wealth of Asti in the Middle Ages: between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries the free municipality of Asti is one of the most powerful and rich in northern Italy and its territories spread out against the other great power of this area: the Marquisate of Monferrato. The testimonies of this rich and stormy period are in Asti the towers, the houses, the splendid Gothic cathedral, the collegiate church of San Secondo, the crypt of Sant ‘Anastasic, the same urban structure of the historical center, and in the province the castles, the fortresses , the fortified villages born for the strategic needs of one or the other power.
However, the easy ways of communication made Christianity very early come here and therefore there are many religious testimonies: the Via Asti is crossed by the Via Francigena, the set of paths followed by pilgrimages to Rome. On the traces of these routes you can visit the Romanesque parish churches, in an itinerary of great suggestion also landscape and the abbey of Vezzolanc one of the stages of this itinerary of the medieval faith together with the complex of San Pietro in Asti. With the end of the Middle Ages, bloody struggles for the succession of the Marchesate del Monferrato began in the sixteenth century, which would damage many of the castles and change the political structure of the area. The Monferrato family is unveiled, the Savoy family is under construction, many fortresses become elegant eighteenth-century castles, many Asti houses become sumptuous noble buildings. Romanesque, gothic and baroque coexist in this area often, but always harmonious, never dissonant. Where the castles were destroyed by the wars, between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, baroque parish churches were erected, often imposing compared to the size of the villages and often containing works by artists such as Guglielmo Caccia known as Moncalvo, a Mannerist painter who lived in the small town of Monferrato whose churches they are real picture galleries of his school. There are still many aspects to report, such as the Iuoghi linked to people like San Giovanni Bosco. His Sanctuary in Castelnuovo Don Bosco is a destination for pilgrimages from all over the world. In Asti everything speaks of the greatest tragedy of the ‘700: Vittorio Alfieri who was born here in 1749. Among the other famous people of the province we remember Augusto Monti, great educator born in Monastero Bormida and the writer Davide Laiolo di Vinchio.
The Circumscription of San Marzanotto extends in the south-east area of the fractional territory of Asti, for about 14 square kilometers. This area, now widely cultivated, was at the end of the Tertiary Era, covered by the sea, populated by fish, molluscs and whales. It is not rare to find, even just walking and digging, remains of fossil shells, but the discovery made in 1993 in a vineyard of Serra San Domenico is truly exceptional: the almost complete bone structure of a whale, now kept at the Gatti middle school (for visits please contact the Parks Authority, phone 0141/592091). The name of “Tersilla” was given to the whale in honor of the owner of the vineyard in which it was found. This small village, arranged as a balcony on the surrounding hills, preserves the typical medieval circular structure. A few kilometers from the city is a quiet country place, full of lanes and pano-ramiche.I side overlooking the river Tanaro has a steeper landscape, while the ridges to the south, thin out in neat and clean valleys characterized by long rows and farmhouses.
A surprise of this small center are the murals that adorn many facades, made by important contemporary artists, including Andreasi, Billetto, Casorati, Fresu, Guglielminetti, Soffiantino, TreccanLA little distance, on a charming hill, stands the Castle of Belangero, dating back to the eleventh century, surrounded by an ancient park, an agricultural farm and a chapel. Unfortunately, currently the castle is not bile visit and is awaiting restoration. The enchanting position of San Marzanotto has made it since 1800, an ideal destination for relaxing stays and for the construction of villas. These include Villa Badoglio, a large three-storey building of “Florentine architecture”. Made in 1936 from the Province of Asti to the then Marshal of Italy Piero Badoglio, for the Ethiopian company. The Villa was then donated by the Badoglio heirs to the Province of Asti for social purposes, recently restored is the seat of representation and guesthouse of the Tourist Promotion Agency of the Province of AstLTo forget the local traditions here is the pre-sentiment of the pro-Ioco, born in 1974: the Friends of San Marzanotto Group has always promoted many activities to let people know their country, local traditions and keep the memory of the past alive (teLO 141/595645). It participates uninterruptedly from the first edition to the Festival of the festivals of Asti.