Montferrat (in Piemontèis, Monfrà; in Italian, Monferrato) is part of the region of Piedmont in Northern Italy. It comprises roughly (and its extent has varied over time) the modern provinces of Alessandria and Asti .Montferrat is one of the most important wine district of Italy. It also has a strong literary tradition, including the 18th century Asti-born poet and dramatist Vittorio Alfieri and the Alessandrian Umberto Eco.
The territory is cut in two by the river Tanaro. The northern part (the Basso Monferrato), which lies between that river and the Po, is an area of rolling hills and plains. The southern part (the Alto Monferrato) rises from the banks of the Tanaro into the mountains of the Apennines and the water divide between Piedmont and Liguria.
Montferrat was briefly controlled by Spain (1533-1536) before it passed to the Gonzaga Dukes of Mantua (1536-1708). In 1574, Montferrat was raised to a Duchy by Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor. With the War of the Mantuan Succession (1628-1631) a piece of the duchy passed to the Duchy of Savoy, the remainder passing to Savoy in 1708, as Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor gained possession of the Gonzaga territory.The next heir of the House of Gonzaga was later compensated by giving Duchy of Teschen in Silesia to them