Asti is an ancient medieval village and it’s the fourth municipality in the Piedmont for number of inhabitants.
It’s famous also for its historical manifestation “Il Palio”, one of the oldest in Italy, which is organized in September and culminates with a race horse mounted “a pelo” (bareback).
The history of Asti
Asti was founded by the Ligurian peoplein the pre-Roman time, and was recognized as a Roman colony in 89 D.C. Its current name comes from the ligurian word “Ast”, which means “high land”.
Some sections of the ancient walls are still present in the northern part of the city, and during the twentieth century, the excavation revealed another section of Roman wall in the city center.
In the Middle Age
During the Middle Ages, Asti was an important center of trade and banking. In 1531 the County of Asti was ceded to the Savoy by the Emperor Charles V, as wedding present for his sister, Beatrice Of Portugal, who married the Duke Carlo III of Savoy.. The Duchy of Savoy became the “Kingdom of Sardinia” in 1720.
Asti in 1797 was the scene of a big uprising, known as “Revolution Astese”. On July 22nd there was a riot for the shortage of grain and the next day was proclaimed a republic. About 30 troops, supported by peasants, reoccupied the city and on August 2nd they shot the insurgents.
In the first year of 1800 Asti became the capital of the French department of Tanaro and in 1935 became the capital of the province, detaching its territory from the province of Alexandria.
On 4 September 1948 the city suffered serious damages by heavy storms, which caused the flooding of some rivers such as the Borbore, the Tinella and the river Tanaro. On 6 November 1994 it was hit by another flood, due to overflowing of the river Tanaro.
Asti today is a hospitable city, a city in which it is a pleasure to have a walk in the center to discover towers, buildings and shops, set in an urban medieval.
Douja d’Or is a national wine competition which is organized every year in September in the city of Asti. Douja is the slang term used to describe an ancient piedmont potbellied jug. It is also linked to the name of the carnival mask Gianduja. Tradition says that teh name came from a witty and clever farmer of Calianetto, a village nearof Asti, nicknamed “Gioann dla doja” because always asked “na doja”, a jug of wine. His name was soon shortened to Gianduja and became the popular carnival mask Piedmont.
Palio Di Asti is a traditional festival during the celebrations of the patron” San Secondo” and culminates with a bareback horse race. The race, which once was organized during the festivities of the month of May and the horses ran “the long run” through the Contrada Maestra (the current Corso Alfieri), since 1967 the Palio was placed within a specific circuit (or ” lap “) every third Sunday of September. Since 1988 the race takes place in the central Piazza Alfieri.
“Festival delle Sagre” is a food and wine festival that is organized on the second Saturday and Sunday in September. More than 40 local productor in the province of Asti present their specialties, accompanied by DOC wines from Asti, in a large open air restaurant placed in “Piazza del Campo del Palio” and during the Saturday night and Sunday, thousands of people can sit in an ancient country village. On Sunday morning a colorful procession animates the streets of the city where you can see more than three thousand characters with authentic period costumes, animals, tractors and tools of the trade. It represents the values and traditions of the rural province.