A Food & Travel Blog

Postcards from Asti, Italy

22/08/2016 | By

I get to know the charming Italian town of Asti, in Piedmont – the perfect spot of spend a few days wandering the streets.

Asti street

The ancient town of Asti, in the Asti province, is a charming spot to while away a couple of days when exploring the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. With a population of 75,000, it has a rich cultural history – it is the birthplace of Vittorio Alfieri, the famous 18th century poet and dramatist and the home of the famous Palio di Asti, a bareback horse race held in the triangular Piazza Alfieri each year.

Borough flags hanging in the streets of Asti

Just some of the borough flags decorating the streets in each ward in Asti.

The competitors are drawn from each of the old town wards, racing in the traditional colours of the boroughs, and the race is preceded by a lavish medieval festival featuring parades, flag throwing and – of course – much local food. It is the oldest recorded bareback horse race known – predating even the Palio di Siena. We missed it when we were there last year, but spent an absorbed hour or two in the Museo del Palio di Asti, housed in the 14th century Palazzo Mazzola. Here they have not only old documents, banners and flags, but some fascinating multimedia displays which help to recreate the excitement of the event.

Villa Ferrari garden, Asti

View from my window at the Villa Ferrari, Asti

View from my window at the Villa Ferrari

Villa Ferrari room, Asti.

While in Asti we stayed in one of the most charming B&B’s I’ve ever seen. The Villa Ferrari is housed in an historic old villa a short walk from the centre of the town, and surrounded by a beautiful secluded garden. Our spacious room was ornately decorated with hand-painted murals depicting historic scenes, all around the room in the deep coving on the ceiling.

Villa Ferrari mural, Asti

asti, villa ferrari

Asti Cathedral

One of the entrances to Asti Cathedral

Asti is a perfect town for just wandering around, exploring the back streets and local sights. One spot not to be missed is the local cathedral, one of the largest churches in Piedmont, the interior of which is covered with lavish frescoes. It is believed that construction on the cathedral began around the fifth or sixth century. It collapsed in the 11th century, was rebuilt in the 13th and is considered to be one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the region.

asti cathedral frescoes

frescoes around the door of Asti Cathedral

more frescoes, Asti

Asti Cathedral pews

Ancient pews in Asti Cathedral – each would have been carved with the crests of significant local families. Some have been scratched out as families change.

When it comes to comestibles, the region is noted for truffle production and it’s cheese, particularly robiola – a soft cheese made with cow, goat and sheep milk – and, of course, the local, high-quality wines. After a day spent wandering the streets, a glass of Piemonte Chardonnay, Moscato d’Asti or Asti Spumante DOCG goes down very nicely in my experience.

asti

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  1. Liz Posmyk (Good Things)
    22/08/2016

    Wow, Amanda, what a fascinating and beautiful place! Thank you for taking us on a photographic tour!

  2. Tania | My Kitchen Stories
    22/08/2016

    Gorgeous indeed. I have been to the Palio di Siena, which was quite amazing. That church, those frescoes , incredible

  3. Gourmet Getaways
    23/08/2016

    Omg!!! What a gorgeous and historic town!! I love the church pews! I can’t imagine how much there would be to discover in a village like that!
    Thanks so much for sharing
    Julie
    Gourmet Getaways

  4. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    23/08/2016

    I can never get enough of Italy. There’s always something beautiful and fascinating around the corner!

  5. Tandy | Lavender and Lime
    24/08/2016

    I just love the ceilings. Thank you so much for sharing the photographs with us. Makes me long for Italy 🙂