Alessandria (Lissandria in Piedmontese) is a city in Piedmont, Italy, and the capital of the Province of Alessandria. The city is sited on the river Tanaro, c. 90 km southeast of Turin.
Alessandria is also a major railway hub.
Alessandria was founded in 1168 upon a preexisting urban nucleus, to serve as a stronghold for the Lombard League
, defending the traditional liberties of the communes
of northern Italy against the Imperial
forces of Frederick Barbarossa
Alessandria stood in the territories of the marchese of Monferrato
, a staunch ally of the Emperor, with a name assumed in 1168 to honor the Emperor's opponent, Pope Alexander III
. In 1174–75 the fortress was sorely tested by Imperial siege and stood fast. A legend (related in Umberto Eco
's book Baudolino
, and which recalls one concerning Bishop Herculanus
’ successful defense of Perugia
several centuries earlier) says it was saved by a quick-witted peasant, Gagliaudo: he fed his cow with the last grain remaining within the city, then took it outside the city walls until he reached the Imperial camp. Here he was captured, and his cow cut open to be cooked: when the Imperials found the cow's stomach filled with grain, Gagliaudo was asked the reason to waste such a rich meal. He answered that he was forced to feed his cow with grain because there was such a lot of it, and no room to place it within the city. The Emperor, fearing that the siege would last too long, left Alessandria free. (Malaria was probably the real cause of his departure.) A statue of Gagliaudo can be found on the left corner of the city cathedral. Alessandria was granted a charter as a free commune in 1198, but entered into jealous conflicts with the older communes of the region, in particular with Asti
In 1348 Alessandria fell into the hands of the Visconti and passed with their possessions to the Sforza, following the career of Milan, until 1707, when it was ceded to the House of Savoy and henceforth formed part of Piedmont.
With Napoleon's success at the Battle of Marengo (1800), it fell to France and became the capital of the Napoleonic Département of Marengo. During this period a substantial fort was built to the north of the city containing impressive and substantial barracks which are still used as a military HQ and stores (2006). The remains of a second fort to the south of the city (Christo quarter) have been sliced in two by a railway.
From 1814 Alessandria was Savoyard territory once more, part of the Kingdom of Sardinia.
During the years of the Risorgimento, Alessandria was an active center of the liberals.
In a suburb, Spinetta Marengo, the Battle of Marengo is reenacted annually, on June 14.
Alessandria was the first capital of an Italian province to be governed by a Socialist: the clockmaker Paolo Sacco was elected sindaco. July 25, 1899.
Alessandria was a tactical military target during World War II and was subjected to intense Allied bombing, the most serious being the raids of April 30, 1944, with 238 dead and hundreds wounded, and April 5, 1945, with 160 deaths, among them 60 children from the children's asylum in Via Gagliaudo. On end of that month the city was liberated of the German occupation (1943-1945) by the partisan resistance and troops of Brazilian Expeditionary Force
On November 6, 1994 the Tanaro flooded a good part of the city, causing major damage, especially in the Orti quarter.
- The Marengo Battle Museum
- Antiquarium Forum Fulvii
- Sale d'arte
- I percorsi del Museo Civico
- Museo del Fiume
- Museo di Scienze Naturali e Planetario
- Museo Etnografico "C'era una volta"
- Museo del Cappello Borsalino
Sistema dei musei civici
People born in Alessandria
- Saint Baudolino (c.700–c.740), hermit of Forum Fulvii
- Francesco Filiberti (15th century), sculptor
- Georgius Merula (c. 1430–1494), humanist
- Giovanni Mazzoni (15th–16th century), painter
- Giorgio Soleri (16th century), painter
- Giuseppe Vermiglio (16th–17th centuries), painter
- Giovanni Migliara (1785–1837), painter
- Andrea Vochieri (1796–1833), patriot
- Urbano Rattazzi (1808–1873), statesman of the Risorgimento
- Francesco Faà di Bruno (1825–1888), mathematician and priest
- Virginia Marini (1844–1018), actress
- Angelo Morbelli (1854–1919), painter
- Blessed Teresa Grillo Michel (1855–1944), founder of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of Divine Providence.
- Sibilla Aleramo (1876–1960), painter
- Pietro Morando (1889–1980), writer
- Giovanni Ferrari (1907–1982), footballer
- Walter Audisio (1909–1973), partisan
- Umberto Eco (born 1932), writer
- Gianni Rivera (born 1943), footballer
- Argenteuil, France, since 1960
- Jericho, Palestine, since 2004
- Hradec Králové, Czech Republic, since 1961
- Karlovac, Croatia, since 1963
- Rosario, Argentina, since 1988
- Villa del Foro, a western suburb of the town which was the site of a Roman settlement.