"Life in a northern town" Alessandria by BlueLlama
Alessandria Travel Guide: 0 reviews and 3 photos
Alessandria is both a province and the prosperous town that is its capital. As a province, it contains some places of real interest such as the Monferrato hills, Valenza and the spa town of Acqui Terme. And yet it's not well-known outside Italy.
I certainly hadn't heard of Alessandria when I applied for a teaching job in Italy in 2003. Interviews were being held for posts in Vicenza, Ivrea and Alessandria. Having examined the job description, I was keeping my fingers crossed for Vicenza, the only one of the three to get itself a section in the travel guides, or, at a pinch, Ivrea which is famed for its carnival celebrations. Alessandria was merely described as recovering well after the devastating floods in 1994. Not a particularly enticing description.
Needless to say, I ended up in Alessandria, the only one out of the eight successful applicants to go to that town. And looking back, I can honestly say that I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Here is my guide to this subtly charming Piedmontese town.
Alessandria is not a immediately beautiful Italian town. If you've been spoilt by the picturesque villages of Tuscany or the climate of the south, you may not be too impressed - and should know, having first arrived after three weeks in gorgeous Vicenza. But that's actually not such a bad thing. There are no tourists here and few ex-pats. Those foreigners that do come, tend to put down roots and blend into local life.
And then it turns out to be prettier than you noticed at first. The streets and piazze are formed by elegant buildings and lined with stylish shops. In fact, the town is now marketing itself as a shopping destination, and it's certainly nicer to do your shopping here than in a mall.
The villages in the wider provinces provide opportunities for exploration, always with the sense of being off the beaten track. And the countryside that surrounds the town is scenic, good for long walks. You can sometimes see herons standing in the fields.
For travel in this region, visit my Piemonte page.
- Umberto Eco is originally from Alessandria and the area features in his novel Baudolino.
- Alessandria is also birthplace of the Borsalino hat. There's an official shop on Corso Roma and you can find others in Turin and further afield.
- There are two rivers in the town: the Tanaro and the Bormido. The former burst its banks in 1994 causing massive flooding.
- Pros:Lovely countryside, pretty surrounding villages
- Cons:Piazze in town centre used as car parks - why?!
- In a nutshell:One of Piemonte's principal towns
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