Nizza is... The lion of Monferrato conquers the eyes of the world from the top of the Campanone.
Nizza Monferrato is located in the heart of Monferrato, in the Belbo torrent valley.
The territory covers an area of 30.36 km², mostly hilly, surrounded by the hills of High Monferrato.
It is unusual to note that the city, in the most ancient part, is triangular with districts all in a straight line.
Nizza and its fine Barbera wine have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 22 June 2014.
With the city of Canelli, it is the second largest city for population (over 10,000 inhabitants) and importance of Asti region, after the city of Asti: from the provincial capital is about 25 km.
The municipality participates in the Palio di Asti, the historic horse-mounted horse race protagonist of the Settembre Astigiano.
In ancient times the town was known by the toponym Nicea Palearum or della Paglia; in fact, the roofs of the houses were built by weaving the straw with the dried herbs of the area.
The etymology of Nizza is still uncertain: some say that the name could refer to an old proprietor of funds called Nicea, a name derived in turn from the Greek goddess of victory Nike.
The date of the foundation of Nizza Monferrato is commonly indicated in the year 1225.
Original nucleus was built around the ancient abbey of Saint Giovanni in Lanero thanks to the union of the inhabitants of the seven surrounding castles, destroyed by the Alessandrini in the struggles with the Astesi.
The current name was born in 1264 when the territory, first dominated by Alexandria, passed under the protection of Guglielmo VII di Monferrato.
In 1268, Nizza was besieged for forty days by the troops of Charles of Anjou; sieges and occupations are a constant in the Nizza history.
Nizza then passed to the Gonzaga, interested in the richness of raw materials of the territory (in particular grapes, cereals, flax, hemp, saffron) and the prosperous activities of breeding silkworms and spinning cocoons.
In the seventeenth century, Nizza was subjected to continuous sieges, the most famous that from 12 to 24 May 1613 by the troops of Duke Carlo Emanuele I of Savoy, which was resolved with a victory for the nicesi.
After the repeated attacks of Spanish and French, in 1647, Nizza was razed to the ground by the Aragoni.
The liberation from foreign domination occurred only with the rise of the Savoy; in the meantime, the power of the Crova family, barons of Vaglio and lords of Nizza, was gaining importance, and they ruled the city for several decades.
It was only thanks to the rebirth of the silk industry, towards the end of the eighteenth century, that the economy of Nizza recovered; the winds of the revolution that sprang from France involved Nizza territory and soon tensions arose - between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries - which culminated in the unrest of December 1799.
The subsequent crisis generated by the restoration of the Savoy monarchy was overcome thanks to the extraordinary skills of the lord Pio Corsi of Bosnasco who, once elected mayor, knew how to transform the city's face with important public works: to him we owe the public lighting with oil headlights, the first sewage system and an overall restoration of road connections.
Among the characters who brought prestige to the town of Monferrato are Bartolomeo Bona and Vittorio Buccelli, who held important political positions at the national level; Gian Felice Gino (see: Memorial Plaque to Gian Felice Gino), pioneer of the flight and, above all, Francesco Cirio, founder of the Cirio canning company.
(Source: summary of the original text edited by Giuseppe Baldino).
To Nizza Monferrato was given the title of city, in 1704, by the Duke Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga as a reward for the financial contribution paid by the nicesi in the war against the Piedmonteses.
Food and wine and typical products.
Nizza Monferrato, an important agricultural and commercial center, is the undisputed capital of Barbera wine.
From the famous variety of vine, cultivated for over 500 years in the Piedmont area, on 1 July 2016 the Barbera d'Asti superior name "Nizza" was born.
Il Nizza is produced in 18 municipalities (Agliano Terme, Belveglio, Bruno, Calamandrana, Castel Boglione, Castel Rocchero, Castelnuovo Belbo, Castelnuovo Calcea, Cortiglione, Incisa Scapaccino, Moasca, Mombaruzzo, Mombercelli, Nizza Monferrato, Rocchetta Palafea, San Marzano Oliveto, Vaglio Serra, Vinchio) with 100% Barbera grapes.
The producers are gathered in the Associazione Produttori del Nizza based in the premises of the Nizza Regional Enoteque (Enoteca Regionale di Nizza).
An opportunity to taste Il Nizza and all other Piedmontese types of Barbera DOC is during the "Nizza è Barbera" festival, in the month of May.
Nizza is also the land par excellence of the hunchback cardoon (cardo gobbo), protected by the specific Consortium, and the white truffle, specialties that can be tasted during the Patronal Fair of Saint Carlo | Truffle and Nizza Hunchback Cardoon Day, in November.
We can't forget that Nizza is home to the fine Piedmontese meat too, celebrated during the Fair of the Fat Ox and Beef (Fiera del Bue Grasso e del Manzo), a zootechnical and food and wine festival scheduled for December.
Among the typical dishes: the green cake, that can be tasted during the Fair of the Holy Christ (Fiera del Cristo Santo), in April, the belacauda (chickpea flour) and the bagna cauda, which characterizes two events of great appeal: the Bagna Cauda del Camperista and Nizza è Bagna Cauda.
To be seen.
The territory of Nizza Monferrato is distinguished by many historic buildings and churches of considerable value.
You can not miss a visit to the symbol of the village, the Campanone, a civic tower incorporated in the town hall, which contains a precious bronze bell that still tolls at all hours.
Among the historic buildings, we also mention Palazzo Crova di Vaglio, a Baroque palace built in the eighteenth century that houses the multimedia museum Palazzo del Gusto, dedicated to the history of local food and wine, and Palazzo De Benedetti, also built in the eighteenth century.
Equally, interesting is the ecclesiastical assets: do not miss the Church of the Madonna della Neve (Bricco), eighteenth century, so named for its particular position on the top of a hill, the beautiful Church of Saint Giovanni Battista in Lanero, considered the Cathedral of Nizza Monferrato, the baroque Church of Saint Siro and the Church of Saint Ippolito, which houses a marble holy water stoup and two wooden confessionals of the late fifteenth century.
Stimulating are also the museum proposals with the Bersano Museum of Peasants and Old Wine Prints (Museo Bersano delle Contadinerie e Stampe Antiche del Vino), set up by the Bersano winery, which preserves a precious collection of tools from the agricultural world and a collection of wine labels, Sug@r(T)_house, the museum dedicated to sugar created by the company Figli di Pinin Pero & C., and the permanent exhibition Art '900, a collection of works by Davide Lajolo (with 100 paintings and sculptures by contemporary Italian artists).
Finally, a stop on the tourist itinerary must be reserved for the Jewish Cemetery.
On the walls of the Campanone - north side - the signs of the siege that Nizza Monferrato suffered in 1613, by the Savoyard, are still visible today: the most attentive will notice a cannon ball embedded in the wall.