Explore the Capital of Monferrato in a Day
Are you planning a weekend getaway to Monferrato but unsure about the must-visit places? Join me in discovering what to see in Casale, the capital of Monferrato!
Casale Monferrato, alongside Acqui Terme and Asti, holds a pivotal position as the most significant city in Monferrato, a region recognized as a UNESCO Heritage site in 2014. Beyond its honorary title as the “capital of Monferrato,” Casale boasts a rich historical foundation. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it became the capital of the Marchesato del Monferrato due to its strategic location on the border of the Po Valley. Thanks to influential figures like the Gonzaga family, Casale flourished into one of Europe’s prestigious centers, adorned with magnificent architecture still visible in its streets filled with beautiful palaces, churches, porticos, and squares.
Want to delve deeper? Keep reading to explore with me!
What to see in Casale Monferrato: Piazza Castello e Piazza Mazzini
Our journey through what to see in Casale Monferrato naturally starts at Piazza Castello and the Paleologi-Gonzaga Castle. The castle, with its asymmetrical hexagonal shape, circular towers, and deep moat, served as the residence of the Marquises of Monferrato. Over the years, it transformed into a fortified defense structure and a symbol of the city. Now a cultural hub, the castle hosts numerous musical and artistic events, including the Regional Wine Shop where you can taste excellent local products
A few steps from the castle entrance lies the Municipal Theater, a late 18th-century building considered the most beautiful in Piedmont after Turin’s Regio. Inside, it retains its original charm with four tiers of brick balconies adorned with exquisite stucco, gilding, and velvet.
On the other side stands the Baroque masterpiece, the Church of Santa Caterina, known for its dome and two-tiered façade. Inside, you can admire Gian Battista Bernero’s beautiful polychrome marble sculpture, the “Assumed Virgin.” Nearby, the 15th-century Palazzo della Marchesa Anna d’Alençon showcases a Renaissance courtyard with arches, cylindrical columns, and cubic capitals, adorned with coats of arms and effigies representing its former owners.
Via Saffi e Piazza Mazzini
Continuing along Via Saffi, which leads to the city’s oldest part, you’ll encounter the dominating Civic Tower, originally a medieval defensive tower, enhanced in the Renaissance with a clock, balcony, and frescoes depicting Casale’s coat of arms. Adjacent is the Church of Santo Stefano, its 18th-century façade concealing an older origin contemporary with the Civic Tower. Inside, noteworthy works by local artists Pier Francesco Guala and “Moncalvo” Guglielmo Caccia await.
Our route leads to Piazza Mazzini, once known by various names throughout history. Always a crucial point in Casale, it intersects the city’s major thoroughfares. Over the centuries, it evolved as the economic and political hub, now adorned with the equestrian statue of Carlo Alberto and encircled by porticos, a result of 19th-century renovations..
Cosa vedere a Casale: il Duomo e la Chiesa di San Domenico
A short distance from the square lies Casale’s oldest monument, the Cathedral of Sant’Evasio. This Lombard Romanesque cathedral boasts a monumental gabled façade flanked by two bell towers, featuring columns representing Longobard rulers Liutprand and Teodolinda. The portal, adorned with a lunette depicting Jesus between saints Evasio and Lorenzo, leads to a unique narthex, setting the stage for five naves with marble altars, colorful stained glass, and chapels housing treasures like the silver urn containing the relics of the patron saint..
Navigating the narrow streets, you’ll reach another significant church, San Domenico. Facing a small square, its terracotta façade blends Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque elements, highlighted by a portal crowned with a zodiac-adorned rose window. Inside, three aisles separated by tall columns showcase masterpieces by local artists Guala and Caccia.
What to see in Casale Monferrato: the Museums
An exploration of what to see in Casale is incomplete without a visit to the city’s fascinating museums. Three noteworthy stops within the MoMu circuit, offering free access to historical, artistic, and cultural treasures of Lower Monferrato with an annual pass:
Civic Museum: Housed in the historic Santa Croce Convent, it comprises a painting gallery and a plaster cast gallery, showcasing works by renowned artists like Spanzotti, Caccia, Musso, Guala, and Morbelli.
Synagogue and Jewish Museums: A splendid example of Baroque architecture, featuring rich decorations reflecting the historical importance of Casale’s Jewish community. The Silver Museum and Lumi Museum exhibit Jewish art and artifacts.
Sacristy and Cathedral Museum: Located in the Cathedral, offering both a historical-architectural tour and an exhibition showcasing ancient mosaics, silverware, wooden furnishings, and textile artifacts.
After exploring the city’s historical gems, you’ll undoubtedly want to savor its culinary delights. Keep reading to uncover Casale’s traditional dishes with me.
What to eat in Casale Monferrato: local products
During your Casale tour, the enticing aroma from one of the city’s historic pastry shops, offering the famous Krumiri biscuits inspired by Vittorio Emanuele II’s mustache, will surely captivate you.
But your culinary experience doesn’t end with biscuits. Casale boasts restaurants serving authentic Piedmontese cuisine. Try Casalese agnolotti or truffle risotto, expressing the essence of Casale, a city nestled between hills and rice fields. Choosing wine might be challenging, but I recommend the versatile Grignolino di Casale DOC, a red wine that pairs perfectly with Casale’s traditional dishes.
Now that you know what to do and, more importantly, what to see in Casale, immerse yourself in its atmosphere. If you plan to stay in this beautiful city and explore its surroundings, click here to discover the best accommodations at the best prices!