The Secrets of Saluzzo

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 15 Nov 2017

At Hedonistic Hiking we like to get off the beaten tourists trails and explore hidden gems which are usually ignored by the majority of other visitors. Saluzzo is just such a town, lying to the south west of Turin, in the shadow of Monviso, Piedmont's hightest mountain. This is the first stop on our Jewels of Piedmont tour where we stay in a beautiful converted farm, Antico Podere Propano, with views across to the Cottian Alps.

    

Hotel Antico Podere Propano                                                                 Corso Italia, Saluzzo

Saluzzo was once a powerful city-state and its former importance is evident in the palaces, churches and castles which make up its historical old quarter. Like many Piemontese towns red terracotta bricks are ubiquitous and today it is an important centre for antiques, fine furniture and restoration. Along with the museums and churches, Saluzzo has an interesting selection of shops and boutiques as well as some fabulous restaurants which you would expect in this reknowned region of "Slow Food" and exceptional wines.

The best view of the red roof tiles of Saluzzo is without doubt from the top of the Civic Tower, built in 1462, and which is part of the Old Town Hall. The 130 steps up to the octagonal spire are well worth it for the panoramas of the town, mountains and lowlands beyond. The Old Town Hall itself was reopened to the public in May 2005 and now houses intricately decorated reception halls and an art gallery on the second floor. Right at the top of the hill on which the old town was constructed is La Castiglia, the castle home of the powerful Marcheses in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries and which, in the last century, was used as the local prison. All the quaint cobbled streets and arcaded medieval roads of the old town lead up to this focal point.

    

Climing the cobbled streets                                                                Historic arcaded roads in the old town

With our groups on the tour we visit the Casa Cavassa, today the Civic Museum of Saluzzo and a fine example of a 16th century noble residence with its charming collection of antiques and artworks.  Alongside it is the Church and Convent of San Giovanni, once the most important religious building in the town before the construction of the new cathedral, and it houses the tomb of Galeazzo Cavassa, the original owner of the Casa Cavassa.

Also worth a mention are the Casa Pellico, birthplace of famous Italian writer Silvio Pellico, and the Church of San Bernardo with its extraordinary bell tower covered with multi-coloured glazed earthenware tiles. The imposing Santa Maria Assunta cathedral sits in the lower part of the town facing the Corso Italia.

    

The bell tower of San Bernardo church                                                Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta

As part of our Jewels of Piedmont tour we also visit two other fascinating local highlights. The first is the Abbey of Staffarda, a monastic complex built by the Cistercians in 1135, which lies a few kilometres outside Saluzzo. The second is the Castello della Manta, a prime example of late Gothic art dating back to the early fifteenth century and famed for its frescoes.

Our hike in Piedmont is one which we have graded as a Level 2 which means we are generally on well-graded trails with just short amounts of ascent and descent each day. On occasion we are at an altitude above 1,500 metres and Day 3 is a more challenging mountain hike. There is a non-walking day in the middle of the week. Our tour here will run twice in 2018, from June 22-29 and again from October 19-26 when we also have the chance to hunt for Piedmont's prized white truffle.