Family Outings – Nizza, the wings of Monferrato
Urban trekking through the streets and squares of Nizza Monferrato, amid ancient buildings, historical churches and colourful murals.
The departure is from Piazza Dante, in front of the railway station, where there is also the entrance to the Bersano Museum dedicated to the wine-farming civilization and featuring a collection of tools from the agricultural world as well as a section displaying wine labels dating back up to four centuries.
Back at the entrance of the square, turn right onto Via Roma until you cross a bridge over the Belbo torrent. Once past the bridge turn right along the stream and follow the current for a short stretch. After leaving the small parking square take Via Carlo Alberto to the left and, within a few steps, you will reach Piazza XX Settembre, surrounded by trees and with a magnificent olive tree in the centre (fountain), while the colourful façade of the church dedicated to St. Hippolytus stands on its side.
From this square you continue onto Via Carlo Alberto, now a pedestrian street. The street was once called Via Maestra, marked by a long sequence of narrow, low arcades and, yesterday as today, it is the strategic commercial axis of the town centre. Through this street you can reach the beating heart of Nizza Monferrato: Piazza Martiri di Alessandria, right next to the 14th-15th century town hall building and, above all, you can reach its tower which is affectionately called “el Campanòn”, which over time has been a defence tower, bell tower and also town hall.
Between the 18th and 19th century the Jewish Ghetto was located near the square, as a plaque remembers today, as well as the Synagogue which has been dismantled before the Second World War. On the pedestrian square there are comfortable benches and it is easy to relax while the kids can toddle around and play peacefully.
Continue to walk along Via Carlo Alberto, mostly looking towards the left and enjoying the narrow alleys which connect with Via Pio Corsi, whence you will return, until you reach the big Piazza Garibaldi (fountain). A tree-lined avenue borders the entire route while in the centre, in addition to the car park and market area, there are bowling alleys and the closed structure of the Foro Boario which is used for exhibitions, conferences and events as well as home to the Information Office.
Once you have walked across the square you move on and go onto Via Pio Corsi, which is parallel to Via Maestra, and pass in front of the baroque church of San Siro until you reach the gate that leads into the garden of Palazzo Crova. It is a baronial residence of the 18th century which is now home to various institutions and activities such as the Associazione Produttori del Nizza and Enoteca di Nizza, which also manages the multimedia Palazzo del Gusto (Palace of Taste) dedicated to the history of local gastronomy, and also Art'900 which exhibits artworks of the private collection of Davide Lajolo. On the inner and outer wall stand out the paintings of the artistic installation "with wings in flight over the World Heritage territories", artworks created by G.C. Ferraris, M. Ricci and G. Sanzo.
The street ends near the 18th century Church of San Giovanni in Lanero. When you turn right you will find yourself on the bridge you already crossed on the way up, now follow the same street until you go back to Piazza Dante.
A peculiarity is the baroque church of San Siro: it would seem that the original building, built in 1311, was commissioned by a local nobleman, a certain Antonio Pelletta, provided that the archpriests destined to run it were exclusively natives of Nizza Monferrato.
Another curious event is held the second week end of June: the town streets are turned into a racing circuit where the key protagonists are... the barrels. Large barrels of wine, each weighing over a quintal, are rolled in a competition that dates back to the nineteenth century. The story tells that it was the shop assistants who first started this competition as they challenged each other by competing in speed during their deliveries. The event takes place combined with a re-enactment in historical costume and with "Monferrato in Tavola", a sort of big open-air restaurant where you can taste typical local products.
Franco Voglino and Annalisa Porporato
Along the way:
Point of interest along the way
Piazza Dante Alighieri
Piazza Dante Alighieri