What to see in Cuneo, Italy

Weekend in Cuneo

Cuneo is a city of forests and mountains, rich in history and ancient traditions. Art, gastronomic delights, literary festivals: Cuneo is clearly one of the underrated treasures of the real Italy.

What to see

The structure of the streets has been preserved since the Middle Ages, but the main secular and religious buildings appeared already in the Baroque era. However, from that era have survived some buildings: for example, the Gothic monastery complex of St. Francis. The main street of the city is the wide, portico-framed Via Roma, once a market place and now Piazza Galimberti (formerly Victor-Emmanuel II).

Piazza Galimberti © shutterstock / Andrei Nekrassov Piazza Galimberti © shutterstock / EmenaPiazza Galimberti / Shutterstock© mary416 / Shutterstock

In addition to the historic center preserved in the northern part of the city, the Via Maestra, which runs from north to south through Porta Cuaranta, is worth seeing the church of Santa Maria del Bosco and a wander through the Contrada Mondovi, a medieval quarter with narrow streets decorated with porticoes.

Piazza Galimberti was formed between 1835 and 1886. It is particularly beautiful because of the severe symmetry of the palazzo overlooking it and the tall porticoes of the buildings. The panorama of the Alps on the horizon serves as a backdrop for the Via Nice.

Via Roma © shutterstock / gkunaBasilica di SanctiCathedral of Santa Maria del Bosco / Shutterstock

After leaving the square via Viale degli Angeli, head towards the church of Santuario della Santissima Vergine Maria. It is a very scenic route because of the panorama of mountains that opens up to the eye. A long bike path goes past the park with a monument to the Resistance by Umberto Mastroianni.

Architecture lovers will appreciate the liberty and rational style buildings. At the entrance of the town is the Saleri viaduct: an 800-meter high, 50-meter high bridge consisting of 34 arches.

Cuisine

Cuneo, like other cities in the region, has a popular Piedmontese tradition of café-salons, where in a spacious room you can have coffee with local sweets, above all meringue and “cunezi alrum”, which has become a nickname in Italy for chocolate sweets with rum. Cuneo is also famous for its chestnuts, with an annual chestnut fair in October.

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Cuneo’s rum candies became so popular at one time that they became known even outside the country. In 1954 the publisher Arnoldo Mondadori advised Ernest Hemingway to stop in Cuneo to buy a few boxes. And indeed, on March 8, the famous American writer appeared on the doorstep of the Arione confectionery, and between autographs and handshakes he did not forget to buy a supply of “cuneizi” to “sweeten” his upcoming stay in Nice.

Today Cuneo is a lively town with several markets and many craft shops. The literary festival Scrittorincittà (“Writers in the City”) takes place here, justifying its fate at the crossroads of peoples, ideas and goods.

How to get there

By car Cuneo is connected to Turin and the Ligurian coast by the A6 Turin-Savona freeway (exit Mondovi). An alternative route is the SS.20.

By train There are two stations in Cuneo: the central station and Cuneo “Jesso”. The latter is very close to the historic center.

By plane The nearest international airport, Caselle, is in Turin. Local flights are served by Levaldigi airport, about 30 km from the city.

Cuneo: shaped like a wedge. Italy

Cuneo is a city in Piedmont, located on a high mountain plateau in the shape of a wedge (hence the name of the city – Cuneo translated from Italian as wedge) at the confluence of two rivers Stura and Giesso. Cuneo is reached by a stunning mountain road – lush greenery, precipices, mountain rivers, tunnels, and sparse settlements.

Cuneo, mountain road

Cuneo, mountain road

Cuneo, mountain road

The town was founded in 1198, it was at a crossroads from France to Piedmont, so there was a market for agricultural products from the Alps and the surrounding plains. This area belonged to the Abbey of San Dalmatso di Pedona under the dominion of the Bishop of Asti and the margraves of Monferrato and Saluzzo, but part of the population found refuge in the “wedge of Cuneo”, creating an independent commune. Opposition to the feudal community was formed and the new commune was ruled by two representatives of the nobility and one of the people. But in 1210 the Margraviate of Salutso seized the free commune. In 1231 Cuneo rebelled with the help of Milanese refugees. To commemorate this event the church of Sant’Ambrogio was erected, and in 1238 Frederick II recognized Cuneo’s independence.

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Cuneo, coat of arms

In 1259, Cuneo’s autonomous life ended – too powerful were its neighbors. It fell under the power of Charles of Anjou, then future Count of Provence. Cuneo, together with Alba, became the main Angevin cities of Piedmont. Cuneo was the capital of the county, a city with special privileges and its own money. The Angevin domination ended in 1382, Cuneo passed to the Duchy of Savoy, in 1281-1305 the city was under the Saluzzo, after a short sovereignty (1347-1348) the Visconti family took over (1348-1356), then again Saluzzo (1356) and again the Visconti family (1366-1372). With Cuneo’s passage to Savoy a new period of history began, from commune to Savoy state, which was accompanied by the growth and final formation of the city. In the 16th century Cuneo underwent a series of long sieges. In 1559, Emmanuel Philiberto, Duke of Savoy, granted Cuneo the title of city and the possibility of having its coat of arms. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are characterized by military activity: Cuneo was involved in battles and was besieged several times. During the French occupation, the next phase of Cuneo’s history began. The city became the capital of the Stour department. In 1859 the province of Cuneo was created. At this time the city began to grow rapidly, houses were built and plazas were laid out. It was at that time that the central Piazza Galimberti (then called Vittorio Emanuele II) (piazza Galimberti) was laid out.

Cuneo, Piazza Galimberti

Cuneo, Piazza Galimberti

Nice’s long paved avenue (corso Nizza), now home to various stores.

Cuneo

Cuneo

On the Avenue of Nice is the church of Santa Cuore or the New Church (Santa Cuore, Chiesa Nuova).

Cuneo, Sacro Cuore church

Chiesa Cuore. Cuneo.

Cuneo

Chiesa Cuore. Cuneo.

During the Risorgimento, Cuneo supported Garibaldi and most of the population joined the “Alpine Riflemen”. From 1943 to 1945 Cuneo was one of the centers of the Resistance. And it was here that the famous Cuneo Alpine Division was organized, which together with two other divisions was sent to fight against Russia in 1942. Now Cuneo is home to about 55,000 people. It is a quiet and respectable city, with a variety of stores, restaurants and museums and parks. The old part of town is pretty much ruined, but nevertheless interesting.

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Cuneo, Old Town

Cuneo.

Cuneo, Old Town

Cuneo.

Cuneo, Old Town

Cuneo.

Cuneo

Cuneo.

Cuneo

Preparing for the Tour France.

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