The history in Cherasco, the baroque in Bra

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The two cities are just 6 km apart, separated by a fertile plain and the River Stura which flows under the ridge upon which the two lay placidly. New towns appearing or developing in the late Middle Ages (for Cherasco we have a date of birth, November 12, 1243) in place of the oldest indefensible Roman settlements (the Roman city was Pollentia, today a neogothic hamlet within Bra) today are very different from each other. So much is ordered and geometric in Cherasco, with its chessboard map, its entrance arches, its Civic Tower on an intersection of thistle on the decumano (a Roman road running east-west), while Bra is tortuous and anarchic, clinging to the Rocca della Zizzola (a curious octagonal building, today the symbol of the city), steep with narrow streets that widen into the Town Hall square.
The medieval palazzi, monasteries, Gothic arcades, the old silk mills, the Castello Visconteo, the Jewish cemetery and the Synagogue give Cherasco a timeless atmosphere, while the historical events confer upon it an unexpected role for a town of less 10,000 inhabitants. Here in fact ended the War of the Succession of Monferrato (the casus belli for the Thirty Years War) which marked the passage of much of Piedmont to the Savoy family and here centuries later Napoleon defeated the Kingdom, in the first stage of his Italian Campaign. City of Peace then, but also the city of the Shroud (which was kept here during each attack on Turin), and considered the safety deposit box of the Savoy.
Bra is instead a beautiful lady - all pleats and baroque lace – who shows her best side in her churches Santo Cottolengo and the Beato Valfré. Also noteworthy is the medieval Palazzo Traversa and Palazzo Mathis. Bra has proto-industrial industrial heritage (tanneries, hemp) with a penetrating gaze towards the future: it is the home of the Slow Food movement and the University of Gastronomic Sciences.
Gina Lagorio is connected to Cherasco by her novel, Tra le mura stellate, while Bra is the home of the writer and journalist Giovanni Arpino, Emma Bonino and Carlin Petrini. The towns are also complementary in food: Bra is famous for its eponymous DOP cheese and its wonderful veal sausage (Salsiccia di Bra); Cherasco for its snails (with an International Centre for Heliciculture) and the not-to-be-missed dark chocolate and hazelnut Baci. There is so much in so short a distance that it does not seem real.
Discover the itineraries:
-Cherasco and its history
-Bra and the baroque

Text ©Pietro Giovannini

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