Southwest Piemonte, Cuneo province, is famous because it holds the famous regions of Langhe and Barolo, unique monuments of Italian wine visited each year by millions of wine and food lovers. Millions do visit Cuneo province, but almost nobody of them actually visits the town Cuneo itself.
Cuneo is situated one hour west of Barolo, near the Alps, and is quite a charming and interesting town. It was built in 12th century and came under rule of Savoie in 1382 after which it became an important military stronghold against France. Its location is very strategic near some important pathways across the Alps. It had never been conquered until Napoleon arrived in 1796. But also Napoleon prefered for his army the road along the coast, along Nice and Savona before entering North Italy because the reputation of Cuneo as invincible stronghold was very strong. After Napoleon´s victory near Mondovi, Cuneo became French. In that period the military fortifications were put down, the centre was extended and piazza Galimberti (below), one of Piemonte´s most beautiful places, was built.
The centre is similar to Turin, with long arcades covering no less than 13 kilometers. Via Roma, now a pedestrian zone, was the centre of the old part of the town. It has been restaured and back in form with such unique and authentic shops. Here one finds still old traditions vivid of 19th century shops, waiters in livery, serving coffee, tea and the typical cuneesi al rhum, with much flair.
Especially in the contrada Mondovi and also at Via Roma one finds a beautiful part of the centre, mainly built in 15th century. If the town is able to preserve this wonderful ambiance, these old shops, this feeling of ´Novecento´ this town will become a famous destination for all those who are looking for something authentic which they will not find anymore elsewhere. It should be considered a value, something characteristic and this counts also for some beautiful monuments. Worth visiting are the Museo Civico, situated in the complex of the Chiesa San Francesco which shows a great number of interesting art works and also the Chiesa San Sebastiano with the museo diocesiano, an interesting religious museum. The Santa Croce is worth visiting too.
Cuneo is surrounded at three sides by mountains and this makes it a fantastic starting point for hiking in the Alps in summer and skiing in winter. There are some beautiful natural parks and abundant nature, often unspoiled.
Altogether Cuneo presents an intesting alternative for those who are looking for some interesting culture after some stay in the vineyards of Barolo. And there are some excellent restaurants.
Main cover photo: Cuneo, surrounded by mountains
Photo: frescoes in the San Sebastiano church
Photo: Via Roma, in the old centre, now pedestrian zone
Photo: Railway bridge across the Stura river. The area of both rivers that are streaming along Cuneo are seat of a natural park ´Parco fluviale Gesso e Stura´ with excellent possibilities for excursions and biking.
Photo: Caffé Arione, once visited by Hemingway in the fifties. It is famous for its invention of the cuneesi al Rhum, a typical sweet of Cuneo
Photo: waiters in livery at Caffé Arione
Photo: cuneesi al Rhum
Photo: Piazza Galimberti
Photo: vizualisation of the famous speech of partisan leader Ducio Galimberti in July 1943 after the fall of Mussolini´s regime, where he announced that the war isn´t over yet, as fascism rule was still over Italy. He was liquidated by the fascist government in December 1944.
Photo: the synagogue, at the place where once used to be a getto
Photos: Cappelleria Cerati, one of the 4 remaining authentic shops of Borsalino in Italy.
Photo: Chiesa di San Francesco: Cuneo´s oldest church, a national monument
Photo: Chiesa di S.Francesco: fresco of gothic period by painter Pietro di Saluzzo
Photo: tapestry in the museo Civico, once used in the theatre of Cuneo. The painting refers to a revolt against the ius primae noctis, long ago.
Photo: Cuneo and the mountains (at the backdrop mount Bisalta in the Ligurian alps, 2231 m)
Photo: procession of the Confraternita Madonna delle Carmine. There are several of such confraternita´s in Piemonte, often with charitative goals. The head of the men are covered: this is because they used to take care for ill people and needed some protection. But it also was used because some of the rich people and nobility did not want to be discovered when doing charitative work.
Photo: market: it takes place each Tuesday and Friday morning, a moment at which Cuneo´s centre is at it´s most vivid.
Photo: restaurant Antiche Contrade
Photo: the railway line Cuneo-Ventimiglia is one of the most picturesque of the Alps
Photo: Cuneo offers abundant skiing possibilities around
– ristorante Antiche Contrade 0171 480 488
– Via Dronero offers a wide choice of interesting, local restaurants
Hotel Lovera, www.palazzolovera.com
Cuneo Hotel www.cuneohotel.com
B&B Valcucca, Peveragno www.bbvalcucca.com
Many thanks to ATL Cuneo