Cuneo and its surroundings, a land of history and culture. For proof that Cuneo and its surrounding areas are a land of history and culture, look no further than the Royal Castle of Racconigi, one of the UNESCO properties included in the series of Residences of the House of Savoy in Piedmont, or the Castello della Manta, managed by Fondo Ambiente Italiano, which houses one of the masterpieces of late Gothic secular painting, the Baronial Room.
Alongside ancient fortifications and noble palaces, visitor centres and museums lend a voice to the local traditions and ancient customs. Like the Filatoio di Caraglio, one of the oldest examples of industrial archaeology in Europe still surviving today, Espaci Occitan in Dronero, dedicated to the Occitan culture, or the Museo dell'Arpa Victor Salvi in Piasco, the first and only museum in the world entirely dedicated to the harp.
The territory features many marks of art and faith. Starting from the Abbazia di Santa Maria di Staffarda, one of the most important and fascinating medieval monasteries in Piedmont, passing through the Chiesa della Missione in the Piazza neighbourhood in Mondovì, apotheosis of the Baroque, and arriving at the Santuario basilica Regina Montis Regalis, which boasts the largest elliptical masonry dome in the world.
HISTORICAL RESIDENCES IN THE CUNEO AREA
The charm of nobility in Piedmont
Not only Savoy. While the Italian royal family has played a leading role in the creation of the artistic and architectural heritage of southern Piedmont, it is equally true that over the centuries the local noble families have also left us medieval fortresses and rich manors that are just waiting to be explored.
Just think of the Marquises of Saluzzo and their Castiglia, which dominates the medieval town, or the Castles of Lagnasco, surrounded by the Garden of Essences. The real highlight is the Royal Castle and Park of Racconigi, a Unesco heritage site together with the other Savoy Residences. Among the richly decorated and furnished rooms, you can relive the lives of the Italian kings and their court in detail.
Two of the fortified structures that stand out are the imposing Castle of the Princes of Acaja, built to protect the town of Fossano, and the Fort of Vinadio, an excellent example of 19th-century military architecture. Often stately palaces and villas are surrounded by beautiful parks and gardens. Villa Bricherasio in Saluzzo is no exception and the same can be said for the Castello del Roccolo in Busca, with its elegant greenhouses and romantic pond in the shade of centuries-old trees.
The Sign of History and Culture
The Cuneo area has seen a succession of cultures, dynasties and traditions over the centuries that have marked and still mark the territory, its knowledge and history. The museums there are an open book on the past, present and also the future of these authentic lands. There is no shortage of ethnographic museums and spaces dedicated to local culture, such as Espaci Occitan, with its in-depth study of the Occitan language.
History is related from its origins, with the archaeological finds on display at the Cuneo Civic Museum and the Archaeological Museum of Augusta Bagennorum, to the bloodiest pages of the Second World War: don't miss a visit to MEMO4345 in Borgo San Dalmazzo, a multimedia space dedicated to the Shoah, and the Casa Museo Galimberti in Cuneo.
There are also many opportunities for children, not to be missed. The Sound Factory of Venasca and the Sound Atlas of Boves propose a thematic itinerary related to music and hearing in a fairy-tale setting. In the Gesso valley, the Centro Uomini e Lupi (Men and Wolves Centre) tells, as no one in Italy has ever done, the story of the wolf and its relationship with man.
Devotion that arouses emotions
The Cuneo area is a land of great popular devotion that has inspired architects and painters since the Middle Ages to produce works of great emotional and scenic impact. The area abounds with opulent Baroque churches, also thanks to the work of the Monregalese architect Francesco Gallo. Of these, the Regina Montis Regalis Sanctuary in Vicoforte stands out.
At times painting demonstrates a communicative power capable of stirring the soul and feelings. This force is particularly vivid in some medieval and Renaissance chapels in the Cuneo area, such as the parish church of Elva by Hans Clemer, the Chapel of San Fiorenzo in Bastia Mondovi, or the Marchionale Chapel in Revello.
Some sacred buildings are a unicum, boasting features and records that multiply their appeal. The church of San Costanzo al Monte, for example, in addition to being a splendid Romanesque-Gothic construction, is a rare example of a church with two floors, one on top of the other, while the Sanctuary of Sant'Anna di Vinadio is the highest one in Europe that can be reached by car.