We stopped in Asti for lunch and a visit to the D. Barbero Choccolateria. We had a tour of nougat making or as it is on the web page: Torrone. We saw the hazel nuts and pistachios cut up and prepared for the nougat. We saw the white foamy nougat being mixed and then hand kneaded, later cut in various sizes, packaged and prepared for sale. We enjoyed lots of samples of nougat and their famous chocolate. Wonderful smells and tastes here.
Open only during religious ceremonies, the Chiesa di Santa Caterina opens onto a lovely piazza with benches for taking in the sunshine. At the rear of the church is the Torre Rosso, one of the city’s medieval towers.
This building was donated to the city in 1558 by Emanuele Filiberto, the Savoy duke who made nearby Torino the permanent Piemontese capital. Inside the main doors there are changing civic exhibits highlighting the changes and upgrades being made around the city.
Formerly a private residence, Palazzo Ottolenghi (House of Eight Woods) is now a government building. Apparently it has a beautiful courtyard but it was not accessible on Saturday. As it is a civic building, visitors may have more luck viewing the courtyard on business days, or try the number above for information about organizing a visit.
Piazza Medici features the beautiful Fontane della Acquadotto, a sculpture made in 1908, as well as one of the city’s historic towers (and a parkade). If you’re out for a stroll in Asti, this piazza is worth passing through.
Hours and opening days vary at this small museum. Inside, you can see the capitals from 12th century columns, artifacts preserved from local gothic churches, medieval sculptures and Roman ruins. I took in most of the collection in five or six minutes, but your two euros are well spent for the opportunity to see a small room featuring columns from about the 10th century. Alone in this silent room, one really feels connected to the past.
One of the city’s most beloved churches, Chiesa di San Secondo is located on a beautiful piazza. It is only open during religious ceremonies, but you can enjoy the exterior from one of the benches on the piazza (grab a drink from one of the nearby bars and soak up the sunshine). On Saturday morning there is a market in the piazza, where local vendors sell cheese, salami and herbal beauty products.
Seemingly open only during religious ceremonies (contrary to information in guidebooks), the Cathedral di Santa Maria Assunta is a monolithic building with high towers and a beautiful redbrick façade. The highest tower has a modern analogue clock and an antique time-telling device similar to a sundial. It was built between 1309 and 1354, and was remodeled several times during the next centuries.
Here we are with our small headed, bare breasted lady, still in a Roman looking tunic, still holding her strange animal
I have enlarged it on the second photo. At first sight, it seems to be a dog but its thick tail would better be of a lizard. If a dog, it would be a very small one as its body is not much longer than the hand of the small headed lady. If it were a puppy, it would not look that slim.
To make sense, their should be a link with pharmacy but which one ? The only possible link I can think of is to refer to "young dogs oil". It was in the 15th and later a well known remedy for wounds. The recipe is as follows :
Throw three living puppies in three pounds of boiling olive oil. Simmer until the bones are soft. Filter on linen. While it is still hot, add tops of origan, thyme, mint, marjoram and Saint John wort's, two ounces of each. Pour in a well closed jug and leave in the sun for a fortnight. Filter on linen.
The oil is used for pains of arms and legs, sciatic and rheumatism. "Huile de Petits chiens" was introduced in the "Pharmacopoeia Universalis", printed in Paris by Nicola Lémery in 1697. It was brought to France by the famous surgeon Ambroise Paré (1509-1590) who learned the recipe in Italy where it was invented by a Milan surgeon. The original recipe was a little different as the puppies were boiled in oil together with worms and turpentine. The remedy stayed in the Pharmacopoeia of several countries until the end of the 19th century.
Farmacia Alfieri (Alfieri Chemist's) stands on Corso Vittorio Alfieri (Vittorio Alfieri Walk), named after the great writer Vittorio Alfieri. On Corso Vittorio Alfieri stand also Museo Alfierano (Alfieri museum) and Palazzo Alfieri (Alfieri Palace), built in the 13th and altered in 1748 by Benedetto Alfieri. I suppose there is no need to write that the Alfieris have been for centuries a main family in Asti.
The first photo shows the whole front of the chemist's, unfortunately closed, with its wooden sculptures. On top, from left to right, is written, "Farmacia Alfieri, Labor chimico" (chemical work), which means that they prepare drugs in the shop or at least used to prepare.
The second shows on top of the entrance, on each side of a royal crown, two baby angels that do not bear the regular angels wings but bee wings.
The third photo shows a small headed, one bare breasted (left) lady standing in a Roman looking tunic, holding a goblet while a caduceus looking snake stands by himself along her. That makes sense as a sign for a chemist's.
The fourth photo shows an equally small headed, equally one bare breasted (but right, this time) lady, equally clad in a Roman looking tunic but holding a strange animal. There is not enough space on this tip and I must build another tip in order to try to explain what it is about.
Torre Troyana or torre dell'orologio (Troya Tower or Clock Tower) is 38m high and was a part of the strong house of the family Troya. It was built in the 13th-14th and was originally topped by a sparrow tail design parapet. The roof and the clock have been added at the beginning of the 16th by the city that had been given the tower by the royal Savoie family. A bell was added later to ring the hours. It was used also to warn the population either of a danger or for special celebrations.
After a short trip by car, you can catch up the XIV century church of Viatosto, famous for its frescos and the balcony that looks over Asti.
It is the preferred church by young people are getting married in spring.
Viatosto represents one of the most important and fascinating places of Asti. A little oasis of peace dominated from the large square of the monumental Church, from which you can enjoying one spectacular panorama.
AstiTeatro is a festival dedicated to Italian and foreign drama, an open-air meeting organised by the Comune di Asti with highly original ideas interpreted by actors and protagonists from all over the world.
The formula of AstiTeatro adds also more relaxed moments to the performances: from the coffee-talks with the authors to discover new sites beyond the theatre to be used in the city, to the convivial climate of the late evening offered by AttornoAlleUndici, the after-theatre programme made of small events, minishows, music and exhibitions, moments of entertainment and refreshment.
In November the Truffle Fair which is held in Piazza Alfieri where besides the white truffle, "the great gift which Nature bestowed on Asti and its environs" the black truffle too is offered, but above all an interesting market of typical products of which Asti's autumn is rich. The first or "nouveau" wines can also be tasted.
If you like wine, Douja d'or is for you!
In the middle of September, Asti becomes the capital of the wine. It's possible buy and taste the wines on competition.
Moreover the best restaurant of the town prepare refined menu'.