15 best things to do in Asti, Italy
Asti, Italy is a medium-sized town located between two hills, Monferrato and Langhe, in the heart of the northwestern Italian province of Piedmont (Piedmont), 40 minutes from Turin and an hour from Milan.
Settled since the Neolithic period, Asti became a Roman camp sometime around 124 BC, then an economic and political power in the Middle Ages, and it has continued to flourish, decline and rise again during its long and remarkable history. Today the city is known for its exceptional food, the outstanding sparkling wines of Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti, and the Palio di Asti, a race through the city without the saddle.
If you go to the Piedmont region, Asti certainly deserves a day or two of your time. Here is our list of the top attractions in Asti, Italy, a city rich in history, culture and gastronomy. Note that most of the attractions listed here are run by the city, and links to the city’s website.
Spend an evening sipping Asti’s famous wines
Asti is the main commercial center of the Piedmont wine region, with vineyards surrounding the city producing about 40 percent of the region’s wines, including its most famous Asti Spumante. Take a wine tasting tour through the hills (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), stopping at vineyards along the way to drink sparkling white and strong red wines.
See the artwork at Asti Cathedral
A must-see, especially for those new to Asti, the beautiful and impressive Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, also known as the Duomo, has been built and rebuilt several times. The current structure was completed in the 13th century, with additions dating back to the 1800s. The Gothic-style structure of Lombard, one of the largest churches in the Piedmont region, has a soaring bell tower (belfry) built in 1266, a brick facade marked by three rose windows, and an interior with fine carvings, frescoes and artwork. Renaissance artist Gandolfino d’Asti. Don’t forget to check out the presbytery with its intricate mosaic floor, part of the remains of an ancient church buried below.
Tour of the cathedral church of San Secondo
Collegiata di San Secondo is one of the oldest Gothic churches in Asti, located next to Palazzo Civico (town hall) and overlooking Piazza San Secondo, a beautiful town square. The facade of the church has three notable Gothic portals and the interior contains works by Gandolfino d’Asti, including an important polyptych (painted on a wooden panel on hinges). Built on the site where San Secondo was beheaded, the 6th-century crypt now holds the bones of the holy martyr.
Entertaining the horses and riders at the Palio
Although the Palio di Asti is not as famous as the Palio di Siena, it was first organized in 1273, making it one of the oldest races of its kind in Italy. Held on the first Sunday in September, the festivities begin with a parade that ends in Piazza Alfieri, where representatives of the city’s ancient quarters compete in three exciting horse-drawn races. The traditional flag-throwing demonstration takes place at halftime, followed by the final race in which the winner is presented with the coveted banner: the Palio di Asti. Check the official Palio website for specific start dates and times.
People-watching in Piazza Alfieri
Stroll through this lively triangular piazza, named after one of Italy’s most famous 18th-century poets, Vittorio Alfieri. Located on the outskirts of the old city, it is a fine example of 19th-century urban planning – it is lined with portico buildings and contains a marble and granite monument to Vittorio Alfieri Giuseppe Dini. In addition to hosting the famous Palio di Asti every year, a weekly food market is held here.
See traditional and contemporary art at Palazzo Mazzetti
Once the residence of a noble family, the majestic Palazzo Mazzetti is now the city’s civic art museum. The galleries feature a fascinating collection of Italian paintings from the 17th-19th centuries, as well as an impressive array of contemporary art. Spend a few hours in this comfortable museum with interactive touch tables, a study room, library, and coffee bar.
A bird’s eye view of the Trojan Tower
The Asti area between the medieval center and the cathedral is teeming with palaces and houses of wealthy merchants. Many of them once had tall towers – in fact, Asti is called the “city of 100 towers,” although only 15 towers remain. The tallest among them is the Tower of Troyana (Torre Troyana). Located in Medici Square and stretching 144 feet into the air, the climb to the top promises spectacular views of the city and its surroundings.
Explore the Crypt and Museum of Sant’Anastasio
The Cripta e Museo di Sant’Anastasio is a museum and archaeological site. Located a few steps from the cathedral of Asti, it contains the remains of four ancient churches that once belonged to the Benedictine monastery of Sant’Anastasio. Inside you will see the sandstone capitals of the second church (12th century) and the remains of the Gothic church of the Maddalena (13th-15th centuries). Take a tour of the beautiful crypt below the museum.
Learn about the history of the Palio di Asti
If you can’t make it to Asti in September, visit the Palio di Asti Museum (Museo del Palio di Asti), located in the 15th-century Palazzola Mazzola. The museum documents the history of the Palio, displaying ancient posters, ancient “Palio” curtains, ceremonial costumes and interactive multimedia workstations.
A walk through the remains of the Roman walls
Asti dates back to pre-Roman times and still has many ancient ruins. On the north side of the city, construction work in the late 20th century uncovered part of the Roman wall.
Take in a performance at the Teatro Vittorio Alfieri
The Teatro Vittorio Alfieri, built in 1860 in classical opera style, is located in the historic district of the city, next to the town hall. The most important theater in Asti, it presents theatrical, musical and lyrical performances of the highest level. Since 1979, the theater has undergone extensive renovations, making it modern and functional, but preserving its historical authenticity.
Discover fossils at the Paleontology Museum
The Paleontological Museum of Asti (Museo Paleontologico Territoriale dell’Astigiano), located in a former 16th-century monastery, is designed for families. Divided into two parts: the first contains geopaleontological events of the last 25 million years and the other presents prehistoric fossil skeletal remains of asi cetaceans (aquatic mammals) of the times when the Po Valley was under the sea.
Visit the church of San Martino
The Chiesa di San Martino overlooking the square in the San Martino-San Rocco area dates back to at least the 9th century. The Gothic facade was eventually demolished and rebuilt in the Baroque style around 1738. Considered the third most important church after the cathedral and San Secondo, it contains remarkable works by Gian Carlo Aliberti and Michelangelo Pittatore. The rich walnut furniture of the sacristy was added in the 18th century.
Enjoy the local food festival.
Foodies rejoice. The Festival delle Sagre is an annual event held in September to celebrate the culinary customs and traditions of Asti. The popular fair starts on Saturday and runs through the weekend, and these days it attracts about 200,000 visitors to Campo del Palio Square. Dine on typical dishes washed down with local wines while enjoying a historic costume parade ( Corteo ).
Splash around at ASTILIDO Waterpark
ASTILIDO Waterpark is an 8-minute drive from the center of Asti. The 4,000 square meter playground has several thrilling water slides, a lagoon with a beach, as well as swimming, diving and children’s pools. There are also picnic areas, a bar, restaurant and free parking. It’s a great way to spend a day of family fun in the sun. Open in late spring and early fall.
Asti, Italy: 10 points of interest and a day trip
Asti (Italy) – detailed description with photos. The main sights of Asti and the location of the city on the map.
City of Asti (Italy).
Asti is a city in northwestern Italy in the region of Piedmont, located among picturesque hills and valleys, surrounded by endless vineyards and charming medieval towns. So it is not surprising that this region is one of the largest and most famous wine-making regions of Italy, where the famous Asti Spumante DOCG sparkling wines are produced. Asti is a typical city of Northern Italy with ancient history, medieval cathedrals and delicious cuisine, with a beautiful historic center full of pretty old streets and old buildings.
What to do (Italy):
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Geography and climate
Asti is located at the confluence of the rivers Tanaro and Borbore, 45 km from Turin. The city is located between the hills of Monferrato and Langhe, in the heart of Piedmont. Asti has a temperate climate, which is characterized by warm summers and mild winters with frequent fog.
- Population – 76 thousand people.
- Area – 151 km².
- Language: Italian.
- Currency – euros.
- Visa – Schengen.
- Time – Central European UTC +1.
- Asti is one of the most famous gastronomic festivals in Northern Italy – Feste Della Sagre. This event is celebrated in almost all cities in the province in the second weekend of September.
- The city is famous for its markets and traditional trattorias.
Asti was founded in pre-Roman times. Around 124 BC, a Roman military camp was founded here. Since then, sections of ancient walls have survived. The heyday of the city occurred in the 10-13 centuries. During this period, Asti was one of the most influential independent cities in Western Italy with extensive trading rights granted by the Holy Roman Empire. The old medieval center still has many historic palaces and towers built during its heyday.
Interestingly, Asti in the Middle Ages was called the “city of a hundred towers. In fact, there were 120. Only 15 have survived.
The city lost its independence in the 13th century and for the next three hundred years was an arena of struggle between Turin and Milan, constantly changing hands. In the 16th century Asti comes under the control of the House of Savoy, under whose rule it was before the unification of Italy. Today Asti is the main commercial center of the wine-producing region of Piedmont, while maintaining the provincial atmosphere of a small town.
How to get there
Asti is located in relative proximity to the airports of Milan, Genoa and Turin. The city is an important station on the railway route from Rome to Turin, which has a favorable impact on its transport accessibility. To get to Asti from most major cities in Italy is not difficult.
The province of Asti is famous for its excellent gastronomy, in which truffle dishes stand out. Among the local products, we recommend trying excellent wines and delicious cheeses. Popular traditional dishes are potato dumplings Monferratoschi, cheese fondue with polenta and truffles, cooked meat Piedmont, anchovies with garlic sauce (bagna caoda), amaretti cookies and hazelnut pastries.
Asti is divided into an Old Town and a New Town. The New Town was built around Piazza Alfieri in the Baroque style in the 18th century. The old town has a predominantly medieval appearance. Its heart is Piazza San Secondo.
Vineyards of the province of Asti
The province of Asti is famous for its picturesque vineyards. It produces 40% of all Piedmont wines. Driving through the picturesque hills and tasting the local wines is the most popular tourist attraction.
The Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta) is an impressive medieval cathedral that is considered one of the most important Gothic churches in Piedmont. The existing building was built in the 13th century and added to in the 18th century. The bell tower of the Duomo dates back to the second half of the 13th century. The cathedral has an austere brick facade with three rose windows and a magnificent interior decorated with fine carvings and Renaissance frescoes.
San Anastasio Crypt Museum
The San Anastasio Museum and Crypt Museum is the remains of four ancient churches that once belonged to a Benedictine monastery. Here you can see sandstone columns from an ancient 12th-century church and the ruins of a 13th-century Gothic church. This archaeological monument is located near the Duomo.
San Secondo is an ancient Romanesque church in the market square of the same name, which is the heart of the medieval old town. This religious structure was built in the 13th century on the site of the death of the Christian martyr Secondo, the patron saint of Asti. The saint’s relics are preserved in a 6th-century crypt. The façade of the church has three notable Gothic portals and the interior features works by Gandolfino d’Asti.
San Pietro Baptistery
The Baptistery of San Pietro is a Romanesque church-museum complex built in the 12th century and modeled after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Piazza Alfieri is a lively triangular square in the center of the New Town of Asti, named after one of the most famous Italian poets of the 18th century, also considered the “father of Italian tragedy.” This urban space is an excellent example of 19th century urban planning.
Palazzo Mazzetti is a historic palace and former residence of the nobility. It is now an art gallery with a fascinating collection of Italian paintings from the 17th to 19th centuries, as well as many modern works of art.
The Trojan Tower is one of Asti’s symbols and the tallest medieval tower in the city. It is a 44-meter brick bell tower that dates back to the 12th century. The tower has a square base. At the top there is an observation deck with a beautiful panorama of the city.
San Martino is a Baroque church built in the first half of the 18th century. It is considered the third most important religious building in Asti. The church on this site was already founded in the 9th century. In the Middle Ages, a Gothic building was built here, rebuilt into a modern Baroque structure.
Asti was founded more than 2,000 years ago and still has the remains of ancient ruins. In the northern part of the city during construction work carried out a few decades ago, discovered part of the Roman wall. In other parts of the city the old fortifications were built into the buildings, so only small fragments are visible.
The Red Tower and the Church of San Caterina
The Red Tower is an ancient structure used to mark the boundaries of a Roman settlement. The tower was restored in the first half of the 20th century. Nearby is the church of St. Catherine, built in the 18th century in the Baroque style on the site of an older religious building from the 11th century.
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