One of those places completely missed by most international tourists: Saluzzo. Once this little town at the foot of the high Monviso mountain was the capital of an indepent country, the marchesato del Saluzzo, which covered a huge territory both in the Alps to the west and to the east into Langhe hills, including Dogliani and almost even Barolo. A wonderful little town with a well preserved old centre dating from 16th century. When in 16th century Saluzzo became part of the reign of the counts of Savoie, it lost its importance and remained almost forgotten. The court of Saluzzo was known for its vivacious artistic life with musicians and intellectuals visiting and there was a medical school, quite revolutionary for the time. When Leonardo da Vinci went to France, his last travel, he stopped several days in Saluzzo receiving much honours by the Marchese di Saluzzo. The old part of the town has remained very authentic and is a real jewel, with little medieval streets, arcades, old palaces and churches.
Between 1475 and 1504 Marchese of Saluzzo gave this palace to the Cavassa family, now this is one of the highlights of historical part of the town, high on the hill. Casa Cavassa is one of Piemonte´s highlights of Renaissance period because of its particular paintings showing a remarkable welfare. Above the entrance there is the family weapon with the motto “Droit quoi qu’il soit”, because the Cavassa family reigned justice for the marchese di Saluzzo.
Unforgettable are the paintings of Hans Clemer, a Flemish painter who had come in contact with the Renaissance in the Provence. His frescoes in the Cattedrale are quite remarkable as the painting ´La Madonna della Misericordia´ (1499-1500) in Casa Cavassa. Above the town is the old Castello the fortress that for long time became a prison and is now in phase of getting a new destination.
Is there wine in such an unknown corner of Piemonte?
Yes! There are old traditions of viticulture here at the outskirts of the Alps, with mostly unknown, indigenous grapes. Leading winemaker Emidio Maero presents eccellent rosato and red wines from the unknown Pelaverga grape. see www.maerovini.com.
Saluzzo area boasts ca 100 hectares of vines, and who drives around will also find obscure grapes such as Quagliano, which is only produced here.
Even less known: one of the descendents of Marchese Saluzzo married in 1785 Francoise-Joséphine de Sauvage, owner of Château d´Yquem, that is why the late owners were called Conte de Lur-Saluces – but also this story is almost forgotten.
Eat out: Rist. La Gargotta del Pellico
Sleep: Hotel Griselda