Alessandria is a city within the Piedmont region on Northern Italy and has a current population of approximately 93,000. The city lies directly in-between the Bormida and Tanaro Rivers and is equidistant from the three major cities of Milan, Genoa and Turin. Due to its central location between these important economic cities, Alessandria has a well-developed rail network and serves as a major hub for Piedmont. The city was originally founded in the 12th century as a Lombard stronghold and was involved in various conflicts such as an imperial siege in 1174. In later centuries, the city came under the rule of the House of Savoy, and eventually became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
Due to its favourable location, Alessandria is a great base if you are looking to explore the Piedmont region. The city boasts a variety of its own sites and attractions and has a myriad of historical buildings, interesting museums, and opportunities for shopping. The Museo del Capello Borsalino is an interesting place for example, and the Cattedrale di San Pietro is a beautiful church with a great history. Furthermore, establishments such as the Galleria Guerci offer fantastic shopping opportunities and a chance to purchase some high end goods.
Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Alessandria:
1. Cittadella di Alessandria
Undoubtedly the most impressive complex in Alessandria, the Cittadella is a magnificent star fort that has stood since the 18th century.
Located on the western banks of the River Tanaro, the fortification served as a defensive garrison to bolster the town’s position as a strategic defensive stronghold.
You can still see much of the star fort outer wall configuration and defensive towers and it is possible to walk around the grounds of the citadel to admire the architecture.
Furthermore, inside the fort there is a military museum that contains over 1500 uniforms, weapons and other memorabilia from the Italian Army.
When visiting Alessandria this intriguing defensive complex is an absolute must see!
2. Museo del Cappello Borsalino
Alessandria is renowned for its manufacture of high quality hats, in particular the Borsalino brand.
The Museo Cappello Borsalino provides insight into the history of one of Alessandria’s premier hat making factories and contains a wonderful display of over 2000 different pieces of headgear.
Located in the old factory in the southern part of the historic old town, the museum occupies the sample room and contains a myriad of displays showcasing some of the companies finest hat creations.
Each hat was made within this very factory and has an accompanying description.
There is also an interesting section that details the production process at the factory and how it produces its famous item of clothing.
3. Cattedrale di San Pietro
The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Marco is the most impressive religious structure in the whole of Alessandria and can be found just a short walk from the Piazza della Liberta.
Constructed in the early 19th century, the front façade of this cathedral looks more like a Roman temple than a church and features a series of ornate columns topped with a triangular pediment and 5 stone statues.
Furthermore, at the rear of the cathedral is a fantastic bell tower that has a myriad of intricate artwork features and a large pointed crown.
The interior of the cathedral is just as impressive and literally every surface is covered with opulent coloured artwork and detailed frescos.
The arches and ceiling in the main aisle for example are covered with blue, gold and light pink designs and the main dome features a series of ornate sculptured statues.
4. Museo delle Divise Militari
You can find this fantastic museum within the grounds of the impressive Cittadella of Alessandria.
In the main complex, the museum is the north eastern building and contains some amazing military memorabilia from the Italian Army.
For those who love military history this is the place to visit! Containing some 1500 plus items, this museum is extensive and you could spend hours looking at the various weapons, documents, paintings and uniforms.
Each item is displayed perfectly and has been maintained to an impeccable condition; furthermore there is accompanying information providing insight into the history of the item and the time period it was used.
To gain insight into the Italian Armies history, this museum is a must see attraction!
5. Piazza Garibaldi
The Piazza Garibaldi is one of the most popular squares in the centre of Alessandria and features some fine architecture and also holds large markets.
You can find this square in the southern part of Alessandria in close proximity to the train station and next to the Giardini Publici.
On all sides the square is surrounded by arched porticos and a selection of fantastic shops and cafes.
Furthermore on the northern side of the square, the archways cross over the Via Giuseppe Borsalino creating a beautiful entrance to the Piazza.
On select days a local market is held here also where you can pick up some fantastic bargains and haggle with the citizens of Alessandria.
6. Giardini Pubblici
Located directly next to the Piazza Garibaldi is the beautiful Public Gardens of Alessandria.
These gardens are the perfect place to walk through and relax in as a break from sight-seeing.
Leading directly onto the main train station, the gardens are in a brilliant position and span quite some distance.
Covered in large beautiful trees and greenery, you are granted shade from the hot Italian weather and can walk along the various paths that snake through the park.
There is also several monuments and statues and several cafes and restaurants on the adjacent Corso Crimea.
7. Ponte Meier
The River Tanaro splits the city of Alessandria and serves as an important waterway in this region of Italy.
Spanning this river opposite the famous Cittadella is the monumental Ponte Meier or Ponte Cittadella.
This bridge was constructed in the 1990’s by renowned architect Richard Meier and features a dual design with a public road and a separate pedestrian walkway.
A huge arch spans the entire length of the bridge and a series of large beans cross from the road to the walkway.
The architecture and design are truly stunning and this is a fantastic bridge to admire and walk across – consider using this bridge to cross over to the Cittadella.
8. Palazzo Cuttica Di Cassine
This delightful palace is located next to the Cathedral and the Piazza della Liberta and contains the fantastic Civic Museum.
Created in the 18th century, the palace has a Rococo and Classic style with an ornate front façade that features white stone and a plethora of opulent framed windows.
Within the confines of the palace is the Civic Museum – this fantastic exhibition contains a plethora of fantastic displays and artefacts.
Notable items include three archaeological halls that contain interesting finds from the region, a detailed history of Alessandria’s monastery, and even a selection of relics from the Napoleonic era.
The combination of stunning architecture and interesting historical finds make this palace a great place to visit.
9. Arco di Trionfo
Located at the end of the important Via Dante Alighieri in the beautiful Piazza Matteotti, the Arco di Trionfo was constructed in the 18th century and stands as one of Alessandria’s most important monuments.
This triumphal arch was constructed by the order of Giuseppe Caselli in honour of the King of Sardinia, Vittorio Amedeo III. Created from red brick, the main structure of the arch has a beautiful colour and is topped with a large oval pediment that has a long inscription on one side and the coat of arms for the king on the reverse.
Whilst walking through the town, this is a fantastic monument to visit.
10. Take a trip to Genoa
Alessandria is located to the north of Genoa and has fantastic transport links to this important city.
You can reach Genoa via train or bus in less than 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Genoa is a fantastic tourist destination and has a myriad of important historical sites, a huge commercial port and some beautiful public parks.
Throughout history, Genoa has served as an important port in the Mediterranean and buildings such as the Genoa Cathedral and the Palazzo Ducale are a testament to the cities power and wealth.
Aside from the architecture, Genoa also has a fun filled aquarium, the interesting National Gallery and the excellent oriental Art Museum.
A trip to Genoa from Alessandria will provide you with a multitude of opportunities for exploration and adventure!
11. Enjoy some delicious food at the Il Vicoletto Restaurant
If you are looking for a fantastic place to enjoy an evening meal, the Il Vicoletto Restaurant is one of the finest destinations in Alessandria.
Located on the Via Cremona, this establishment is centrally located and within a short walking distance from the Piazza della Liberta.
The service here is quick and friendly, and the atmosphere is pleasant and peaceful.
The restaurant serves a classic range of dishes including some divine pasta and beef courses.
Every meal is cooked to perfection and you will leave Il Vicoletto feeling stuffed!
12. Enjoy a sumptuous dessert at the Pasticceria Bonadeo
Located within the Galleria Guerci, this café has a great reputation and is renowned for its selection of homemade desserts.
If you are looking for a place to enjoy breakfast or afternoon tea perhaps, this is the only venue in Alessandria! This café has seating outside within the gallery and serves as a wonderful place to simply sit back and watch the world go by.
Here you can sample a range of pastries such as croissants and doughnuts, plus some sumptuous cakes and desserts.
Furthermore, Pasticceria Bonadeo serves a wide range of coffee, juices and tea.
13. Palazzo Ghilini
Alessandria has a myriad of fine palaces and historical buildings and the Ghilini Palace is one of the most important in the city centre.
Constructed in the early 18th century, the building features a Piedmont Baroque style and was originally used as a residence for the wealthy and influential Ghilini family whos history is intertwined with that of Alessandria.
In subsequent years the palace was restored and became a royal residence.
Although you cannot enter the palace, the architecture is admirable and the front façade features a series of stone columns, windows with decorative pediments and a grand entrance.
14. Galleria Guerci
The Galleria Guerci has a similar design to the well-known gallery in Milan and is a great place for shopping or to relax and enjoy a coffee.
Located in the heart of the city, the gallery can be found on Via San Lorenzo and stretches across to Via San Giacomo della Vittoria.
The original design and fixtures of this corridor have been maintained and it is truly a beautiful public space with a high-reaching glass ceiling and shops that have beautiful facades.
You can find a variety of shops here and also the aforementioned Pasticceria Bonadeo.
When walking through the historic town centre, pay this gallery a visit and stop for a little shopping!
15. Take a trip to Turin
Turin is another fine city located not too far away from Alessandria.
You can travel to this city in just over an hour using the reliable Italian train and bus service.
Turin is one of the most important economical cities in Italy and is renowned for its vast array of car manufacturing plants.
Due to its extensive history from the Roman ages onwards, Turin has some absolutely fantastic sites and is a great place to visit for a day trip.
Buildings such as the Palazzo Reale, Palazzo Madama and the gigantic Mole Antonelliana give insight into the cities past and are amazing to admire.
Furthermore, establishments such as the Galleria Sabauda and the Egyptian Museum are great for those who love history.
Finally, Turin also features a huge amount of high end shops for those who want to enjoy some retail therapy.