Riserva dell'

Astigiano

Riserva dell'

Astigiano

A Hundred Towers, a Thousand Hills

Situated at the heart of Piedmont, the area around Asti is characterised by a hilly, vineyard-kissed landscape traversed by the Tanaro river. A producer of fine wines, the area also boasts wonderful natural parks, Medieval churches dotting the ancient Via Francigena and a rooted local culture, which each year culminates in the famous 'Palio'. 

Discover all the excellence in this Riserva

  • Places & Landscapes
  • Culture
  • Food & Wine
  • Craft
  • Passionate Individuals
  • Events

The Holy Side of Archaeology

The Lapidary Museum and
Cript of Sant'Anastasio

The Holy Side of Archaeology

The Lapidary Museum and Cript of Sant'Anastasio

When you find yourself exploring the beautiful town of Asti, don’t miss out on paying a visit to the small but fascinating crypt and museum of Sant’Anastasio, found on Corso Alfieri.

The museum is characterized by its double nature, being both an archaeological site and museum seat. 

The west area contains a rich stratification of archaeological relics, the most extraordinary being the crypt of Sant’Anastasio, found below an early medieval church of the same name, which was demolished in 1907. Entering the small space you can’t help but feel a sense of the ancient and sacred nature of the site, with its marble columns and medieval capitals creating a beautiful and mysterious atmosphere.


Archaeological campaigns carried out in the late '90s have shown that the church of St. Anastasio was part of an influential female Benedictine monastery, most likely established by the Lombards in the 8th century.  In the years up until the sixteen hundreds, the church underwent many alterations, so much so that the extension works and changes can be seen overlapping with traces of the old Romanesque building. 

The museum is closely connected to these important archaeological remains and houses coats of arms and sculptures that belonged to the most important families of the area in the period between the VIII and XVII centuries.

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An Asti Delicacy

Muletta Astigiana

An Asti Delicacy

Muletta Astigiana

A delicacy throughout the Piedmont area of AstI, the salami called ‘muletta astigiana’ is much larger than most types of salami, yet ultimately enjoyed as thinly cut slices.

The meat comes the pig’s leg, stomach, shoulder and tenderloin. To these, several ingredients then added to make the salami: spices, milk, herbs, as well as some sucrose, dextrose, and lactose.

Not every muletta astigiana maker adds the special final touch, but it is certainly possible to find the salami aged in an older Barbera wine. 

With wine or without, when the salami is encased, it rests untouched in a warmed room for ten days. The final and lengthiest step before the salami is ready to be eaten, is to leave it for two to six or eight months in a cool and airy space... a real feat!


If visiting the Asti area, a taste of the muletta astigiana at a local delicatessen is not to be missed!

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A Dish for the Adventurous

Bagna caöda

A Dish for the Adventurous

Bagna caöda

If you are looking to taste a traditional Piedmontese dish, but also seeking something out of the ordinary to satisfy your adventurous palate, why not try bagna caӧda: an intensely-flavoured sauce served with both cooked and raw vegetables.

Its name comes from the Piedmontese dialect meaning salsa calda,which translates to ‘hot sauce’. However, it should not be confused as a spicy sauce that contains hot pepper of any kind


Bagna caӧda is made of 3 simple ingredients: olive oil, anchovies and a large quantity of garlic. 

In spite of its simplicity, don’t be fooled into dismissing this as a simple sauce to serve with vegetables: for true connoisseurs or bagnacaudisti, this dish has become not only a tradition, but a seasonal rite looked forward to by many.

With origins that date back to Medieval Times as a piatto povero or a ‘poor man’s dish’, it was prepared by farmers to protect themselves from the cold during the autumn and winter months.

It was a dish loathed by the nobility not only for the considerable quantity of garlic used (6 or more cloves), but also for the notable effect on the consumer’s breath. 


The dish is also said to have originated as part of a festive occasion, held in November, to celebrate the year’s new wine production. 

It was an event where families and friends would sit down at a table, around the fojot - the traditional terra cotta serving dish used for bagna caӧda. The typical fojot has a two-level structure, with a small space for a tealight candle underneath the sauce-bowl, used to keep the liquid warm throughout the meal.

Bagna caӧda is typically served with boiled cardoons, Jerusalem artichokes, and baked peppers as well as raw celery, carrots and fennel and is often paired with classic Piedmontese wines such as Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Roero Rosso.


While there are several variations on the original recipe including those which add cream and others which boil the garlic in milk in order to lessen the intensity of the sauce, true bagnacaudisti are likely to recommend the original recipe in order to truly appreciate its intense flavours. Are you up for it?

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Asti's Versailles

Palazzo Mazzetti

Asti's Versailles

Palazzo Mazzetti

Palazzo Mazzetti was built at the end of the 17th century by the powerful Mazzetti family on the site of a previously existing fortified house and other adjacent buildings.

The Mazzettis, originally from Chieri, were of noble origins and had made their fortune by minting and lending money, as well as from shrewd real estate purchases.


In 1751, Giulio Cesare Mazzetti entrusted architect Benedetto Alfieri with the renovation of the east wing. 

Alfieri’s input can be seen in the façade design, the large staircase and the elegant foyer with its Mannerist-style columns.

Throughout its history, Palazzo Mazzetti was a highly prestigious residence and, today, it remains one of the most representative historical buildings in Asti.


Currently, the palace is owned by the Foundation Cassa di Risparmio di Asti and houses the City of Asti Museum and Art Gallery.

In the elegant rooms of this refined residence you can admire furnishings, frescoes and canvases from the 17th and 18th centuries, paintings by famous 19th century painters like Delleani and Grosso and works by contemporary and local artists.

During the restoration of the building between 2005 and 2010 an excavation led by Piedmont’s Archaeological Heritage Department brought to light important remains from the times of the founding of Roman Hasta (late 2nd century BC) that are now displayed in the lower ground floor.


The discovery of Roman walls and paved floors suggests that the area where the palace was built was the eastern edge of the Forum, the heart of the old city.


The museum hosts important exhibits on various artistic and historical subjects. Check the website for details and current events.

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A Taste of the Woods

Trilobata Hazelnut

A Taste of the Woods

Trilobata Hazelnut

Italy is one of the world’s largest producers of hazelnuts, rivalled only by Turkey. The Piedmontese hazelnut, however, is recognised as a special variety thanks to its distinctive flavour. 

The Tonda Gentile Trilobata, so called because of its perfectly round shape, is amongst the world’s best hazelnuts not only because of its delicious taste but also because it is easy to peel and can be stored for long periods without losing its characteristics.


It grows in the hilly areas of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato and is a protected I.G.P. (protected designation of origin) product, which means that the quality and the authenticity of the product are guaranteed.

Its popularity comes from the famous Gianduiotto, a chocolate and hazelnut praline invented in 1806 when cocoa had become very expensive due to import limitations imposed by Napoleon. 


To reduce the amount of cocoa, chocolate makers tried to add ground hazelnut and the result was an amazing success.

Italian chocolate-maker Ferrero conquered Italy, and eventually the world, with its Nutella, an industrial version of Gianduia cream (a cocoa and hazelnut cream). Now a giant company, Ferrero doesn’t exclusively use the local crop anymore, as production is not high enough: they use about a quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply — more than 100,000 tons every year!


Today the “tonda gentile” is used for a series of high quality preparations including the aforementioned Gianduiotto pralines, Gianduia spread, Torrone, hazelnut cake and brut e bon biscuits, all delicious and very popular. 

When toasted correctly, it tastes spectacular – if you get the chance, exalt its aromatic savour with a glass of rich, red wine or try to dip it in honey.

Last but not least, recent studies seem to demonstrate that, if eaten regularly, hazelnuts have a positive effect on human health. They can help maintain low “bad cholesterol” levels in the blood, and thanks to their high vitamin E content, they supply a significant quantity of antioxidant agents. 


So, whether you enjoy it alone or in one of the various mouth-watering preparations make sure you try this gentle and healthy delicacy!

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Noble Writing

Vittorio Alfieri

Noble Writing

Vittorio Alfieri

A tragic poet and dramatist, Vittorio Alfieri is best known for the boost his lyrics and dramas would give to Italy’s national spirit in the period before the Risorgimento (‘Italian Unification’). 

Born in Asti in 1749, Alfieri inherited a considerable fortune at the age of 16 and, after 8 years spent at the Academy of Turin, he spent his younger years indulging in adventure and romance, travelling extensively in Europe and embroiling himself in a number of ill-fated love affairs.


After several years of frivolity and travel, Alfieri wrote Cleopatra in 1772 – a tragedy that was received with great success

Perhaps it was Cleaopatra’s warm reception that sparked his strong desire to make a name for himself in dramatic poetry, for he soon moved to Florence and began studying the classic Italian poets and learning pure Italian. 

In Florence, Alfieri met the Countess of Albany, the unhappy wife of Charles Edward Stuart (‘The Pretender’). Alfieri’s affair with the Countess became lifelong and he gained a reputation as the man who stole Bonnie Prince Charlie’s wife; it is even believed that after Prince Charles’ death in 1788 the two may have secretly married. 

Alfieri attributed all of his success and personal growth to his love for the Countess, which he believed had inspired him to become a much better man.


After Alfieri’s death in 1803, the Countess strived to edit and publish his complete works.

These would have a far greater impact than Alfieri himself could have anticipated, with his Virginia and Brutus inspiring a whole generation of Italian patriots, who drew upon their passages in their unifying speeches.

His main literary theme was, in fact, that of liberty overthrowing tyranny.

If you are interested in discovering more about Alfieri’s life and literary activity, pay a visit to the Alfieri Museum located in his own house, a medieval palace in the centre of Asti

Restructured in 1736 by Benedetto Alfieri (Vittorio’s cousin), the museum consists of 10 halls, including the room of the poet’s birth still furnished with original pieces. The exhibition contains rare editions, drafts and theatrical documents and the palace is also home to the Asti Library and the Institute for the History of the Resistance and Contemporary Society, where you can visit a permanent exhibition on the Resistance movement.

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A Tapestry Wonderland

Arazzeria Scassa

A Tapestry Wonderland

Arazzeria Scassa

Both a museum and a “factory of contemporary tapestry”, Arazzeria Scassa is one of the few tapestry weaving mills still active in Italy. 

Founded by owner Ugo Scassa in 1957, the arazzeria has since been an important centre for the production of tapestries, taking part in international contests and fairs. 

A lover of the arts, Ugo Scassa has transformed his passion for paintings and drawings into a well-established tapestries workshop and a point of reference for this ancient art.

Scassa tapestries were commissioned to furbish famous cruise liners such as the Leonardo da Vinci, the Michelangelo and the Raffaello and still decorate rooms in the Italian Senate House, the Vatican, important banks and institutions and the Wenner-Gren Foundation in New York.

The workshop also operates as a centre for the Restoration and Conservation of Tapestries. 

One of their most remarkable restorations is “The Banquet of Joseph and his Brothers”, part of the “Stories of Joseph the Hebrew” cycle (Florence, 1545-1553) from the “Manifattura Medicea”, which is now displayed at the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome.

The amazing tapestries of Arazzeria Scassa reproduce works of world-renowned Italian and foreign artists like De Chirico, Dali, Ernst, Kandinsky, Matisse, Rousseau, Dorazio, Warhol or Miro. 

The technique used is the “haute-lisse”, the highest form of tapestry weaving, a traditional art handed down by the great Masters of the past. It involves a long and difficult process that can take up to 500 hours per square meter. It requires precision, accuracy, skill and …love.

After the artist chooses the pattern, all the required colours are reproduced and the necessary wool yarns are dyed.

The outlines of the pattern are then marked using a drawing projector, so that the highly skilled weavers can gradually build the design, under the supervision of the tapestry maker.


You’ll be able to admire a unique collection of some of these stunning works of art at the Scassa Museum of Tapestries, opened in 2002. The visit will also allow you to observe weavers at work, learn about the weaving technique and see the relevant tools and instruments used in the workshop. 

It’s a hidden gem, so make sure you go find it!

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Imposing
Witness of a
Long History

Asti Cathedral

Imposing Witness of a Long History

Asti Cathedral

The Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral was built between the end of the 13th and the first half of the 14th century on the site of an earlier church, which had collapsed. Remains of the pre-existing building can be seen in the mosaic floor in the presbyterium.

It is the largest church in Piedmont and the most important Gothic monument of the area, combining elements of the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles. 


The beautiful Romanesque tower originates from 1266, while the grand South doorway is a magnificent example of Piedmontese Flowered Gothic and was added with the support of two affluent families, the Pellettas and Troyas, while further enhancements were carried out in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The interior has three naves with colourful frescoes throughout, including flowery motifs on the columns. 

The chapels display paintings by Gian Carlo Aliberti, Gandolfino d’Asti and Guglielmo Caccia, a splendid copper statue of the Holy Mary by local sculptor Antonio Giovanni Groppa and precious baroque altars. The presbyterium boasts a grand marble altar built in 1732 by Lombardy masters after a project by architect Benedetto Alfieri.

Situated in the Old Town, on a calm square among other old buildings, the cathedral vaunts a unique beauty.

 The best time of the day to look upon it is in the late afternoon, when the warm light brightens the red brick.


On the north side of the cathedral is the church of San Giovanni with a ninth century crypt and an interesting museum, featuring pieces taken from the cathedral ('the treasure of the cathedral') and important archaeological remains from the Roman times retrieved from recent digs. 

Whether you are attracted by the cathedral and its long history or by the earlier remains, don’t miss this important piece of Piedmontese history.

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Medieval Horse Racing

Asti's Palio

Medieval Horse Racing

Asti's Palio

Palio festivals are traditional races run by horses or other animals, which take place in Italy. 

The animals participating in the race represent the neighbourhoods of a town, which compete against one another in this annual celebration.

The term palio refers to the drape or flag that the winning neighbourhood receives to commemorate the race. 

Many palio festivals have medieval roots – including the Palio di Ferrara, which has been run since 1259, and the world-famous Palio di Siena, which has its origins in the 14th century – and they were traditionally organized to celebrate military victories, or simply as a form of local entertainment.


Though perhaps less well known than its Sienese or Ferrarese counterpart, the Palio di Asti has equally deep roots in history.

The first known record of the race dates to the late 13th century, when in 1275 the palio was run under the walls of Asti’s enemy city Alba, causing significant damage to local vineyards. The race has carried on almost continuously since then, with only a few decades of interruption in the 19th and 20th centuries.


The modern day festival, which is held on the third Sunday of September each year, features a race between 21 horses representing different local neighbourhoods. 

Like many other Palios, the final race is preceded by several trial runs – during which the public has the possibility to see the horses in action for the first time, as well as a colourful historical procession featuring more than 1200 participants outfitted in traditional medieval garb.


Unlike other palio races in Italy, Asti’s celebration includes a traditional dessert prepared for the occasion. The recipe dates to the year 1938, when a local baker created a cake in honour of the palio festival.

Though the cake is widely found in bakeries around the city of Asti during the time of the race, the original recipe remains a secret.
Thus, the exact ingredients may vary a bit from recipe to recipe, though most call for the freshly baked cake to be brushed with maraschino liqueur and then topped with a layer of chocolate (either cocoa powder, melted chocolate or chocolate flakes).

If you happen to be in Asti during the Palio, immerse yourself in the medieval atmospheres and relish the colourful entertainment of a time long gone.

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Wildlife Galore

Rocchetta Tanaro Park

Wildlife Galore

Rocchetta Tanaro Park

This nature reserve, a few minutes from the small town of Rocchetta Tanaro and a short drive from Asti, was established in 1980 in order to preserve an area of extreme natural relevance and provide special opportunities for study and research.

The Rocchetta Tanaro Park extends over 123 hectares of woodland of significant geological interest.

Because of its peculiar position, it constitutes a sort of bridge between the Langhe and the South of Piedmont, considerably influenced by the milder Mediterranean air, and the hilly areas around Turin, more strongly influenced by the nearby Alps and the more rigid alpine climate.


Rich in trees and wild flowers - a haven for birds and animals -, the park makes the perfect day out to enjoy nature and learn about the flora and fauna of the area. You will find impressive oak trees, maple trees, beeches and poplars and a wide variety of flowers such as orchids, lilies of the valley, day lilies, anemones and bellflowers.

Among the mammals living in the park you’re likely to come across badgers (the symbol of the Park), foxes, weasels, squirrels and even hedgehogs!

Bird life is especially rich in the park and is represented by about forty nesting species.

The rivers Rabengo and Ronsinaggio mark the boundaries of the park; their waters are extremely clean and rich in freshwater crayfish. The Ronsinaggio rises from the Canà spring, a source of clear iron-rich water that was the main source of water supply to the residents of the area until the 1960s. The spring is accessible on foot or by mountain bike following the cycle route.


The park is ideal for pleasant walks and more demanding hikes and also has two short routes specifically designed for visitors with visual or physical disabilities. There is also a hostel in the park, offering hospitality and educational activities for schools and groups. Just outside the park entrance is a wide car park with facilities for horses, a food stall offering local produce and a bike rental stand.

If you love and respect nature, don’t forget to pay a visit to this tranquil and pleasant natural haven.

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A Voice Like No Other

Paolo Conte

A Voice Like No Other

Paolo Conte

Paolo Conte is a widely known singer-songwriter, easily recognizable for his gruff, resonant voice and dreamy compositions. 

Born in Asti in 1937, Conte began songwriting from an early age, alongside his brother, Giorgio Conte. 

Although he grew up in the city, Conte spent a lot of time (particularly during the war) on his grandfather’s farm and he later reflected that his upbringing there was a reason for the understanding and respect he has for the local ways and traditions of his own region, as well as for people from all other walks of life.


Conte’s performing career began on a very small scale, as a vibraphone player in local bands, but by the late 1960s his compositions had begun to attract attention and popular singers began recording his music.

His own recording career began in 1974, with his debut album ‘Paolo Conte’. 


Songs such as ‘Un Gelato al Limon’ and ‘Paris Milonga’ received widespread public recognition in Italy and after a series of successful concerts at the Théâtre de Ville in Paris, he received critical acclaim in France too. Two other important albums of his career were ‘Razmataz’ (2000), which was greatly received across Europe, and ‘Psiche’, in 2008.

Paolo Conte has received many awards and recognitions from a number of different nations. These include the ‘Cavaliere di Gran Croce’ awarded by President Giorgio Napolitano and the ‘Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres’ from France.

Have a listen:


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The Emblem of Asti

The Troyana Tower

The Emblem of Asti

The Troyana Tower

The 28m-tall tower in Piazza De Medici, also called The Tower of the Clock, is the symbol of Asti. With its three levels of double lancet windows and the covered battlement standing over them, it is one of the most imposing and best preserved medieval towers in Piedmont.

Built between the 12th and the 13th centuries, it was purchased by the Troya family in 1250 and finished in 1280. This is the period during which the region became one of Italy’s wealthiest areas, with 150-odd towers springing up in Asti alone. They symbolised the power and the wealth of the owners and their supremacy over the other families.

The Troya were members of the town’s merchant aristocracy, also well-known bankers with financial interests all over Europe. The fame of the family declined in the 15th century and the building was acquired by the Town and made into the city tower.

The present bell was added in 1531 and is one of the oldest bells in Piedmont still in use.

It would ring to make announcements of public interest or alert the citizens in case of danger. It would also be used to call people to the main square to watch public punishments and mark the closing hour for the shops. In the 18th century it was used to mark the hours and as a curfew bell, or to announce the beginning of school lessons in the morning.

The Torre Troyana was recently renovated and is the only of the remaining twelve towers in town open to the public, though only by appointment and only in certain times of the year. 

It can be accessed through a wooden staircase of 199 steps: the 360˚ view over the town and its surroundings is well worth the climb!

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A Wine Haven
in a Jar

Douja d'Or

A Wine Haven in a Jar

Douja d'Or

Smell the flavours of wines and taste the various combinations paired with special dishes from all over Italy; visit Asti during one of its most important oenological and gastronomical settings for 10 days’ worth of tasting Italy’s food and wine during September.

Douja d’Or is a unique wine competition that takes place in Asti, considered to be the capital of Montferrat area - one of the most important wine producing areas of Italy - and declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. 

The origin of the word Douja comes from the Piedmont dialect “douja” which is the terracotta jug that was used to store and serve wine.

Since 1967, the event has taken place in order to promote the best Italian winemakers according to a strict voting process of 80/100 to win the Douja d’Or title and 90/100 to win Douja d’Or Oscar. The competition itself would be enough for any visitor but there are plenty of activities lined up in the event including concerts, art displays, local events and refined gastronomic meals prepared with great detail by Piedmont chefs. 


The ten days spent in Asti for this event will be filled with new experiences that will liven up all of your senses!

The Douja d’Or wine competition not only offers a once in a lifetime experience to a visitor given the amazing array of top quality wine producers and chefs from Italy, it also gives you the opportunity to relax in the centre of Asti, sampling its local festivities and expressive manifestations.

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Follow the (en)trail

Asti-style Finanziera

Follow the (en)trail

Asti-style Finanziera

Finanziera, a Piedmontese dish most commonly found in and around the city of Asti, is a typical example of the culinary tradition of cucina povera

This term, which translates as “cooking of the poor” or “peasant cooking”, refers to a type of food preparation that uses simple, readily available ingredients to make high quality dishes. 

Finanziera is a meat and mushroom based dish that combines organs, entrails and parts from several types of animals. 


Because access to meat was once quite limited, especially among Italian peasants, no part of an animal went to waste.

Finanziera has a long history in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. The first known recipe for the dish dates to the year 1450, and was proposed by the 15th century culinary expert Martino of Como, also known as Maestro Martino. Maestro Martino could be considered a sort of medieval celebrity chef; he published a cookbook entitled Libro de Arte Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking), which is renowned in Italian gastronomic literature for providing historical documentation of the transition from Medieval to Renaissance style cooking.


The dish morphed throughout the centuries, and it is believed that between the 18th and 19th centuries Finanziera became quite popular among society elites. 

Indeed, it is in this transition from peasant dish to high cuisine delicacy that we have some indication of the derivation of the name Finanziera; the term also referred to the suit typically worn by bankers and men of finance, who purportedly adored the dish. Another theory suggests that the name derives from the toll peasants would pay to guards (the finanzieri) to enter the city. 


The peasants commonly paid this toll in chicken giblets, which to this day is one of the main ingredients of Finanziera!

To make Finanziera, combine and cook together sweetbreads, rooster combs, chicken livers and giblets as well as veal brain with mushrooms, onions, pickles, wine, butter and parsley – or better yet, adventurous eaters can leave it to the experts and sample a plate at a local Piedmont trattoria.

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What Once
Was the Sea

Oasi Valmanera

What Once Was the Sea

Oasi Valmanera

Nature lovers visiting the Piedmont region of Northern Italy should not miss the WWF Oasis of Valmanera, near Asti. 

The area is an important geographic relic of the Mediterranean Sea in a post Ice Age period that can be traced to about 15,000 years ago. Few geographic testimonies of this kind remain in Northern Italy, making the Valmanera Oasis a unique and special locale.

The protected area of the park spans about 10 acres and is characterized by low rolling hills, broad-leaf trees such as Oaks, Maples, and Chestnuts, as well as many types of botanical rarities. 

Part of the Rio Vamanera also passes through the Oasis and has been used to create a “didactic pond” for students and researchers.

Within the park, the Villa Paolina, originally built in the mid-1800’s, has been home since 1986 to a Centre for Environmental Education that organizes much of the didactic offerings and activities available to visitors of the Oasis. For several years now, the building has hosted a School for Biodiversity in collaboration with the Universities of Asti and Turin. A second, smaller building on the premises is used as a hostel for school groups and "eco-tourists".


The park has several artificial nesting sites and tags to describe the tree species which can be found following the various paths; an old edifice has been restructured and can be now used as a tower for bird-watching, while bee houses have been installed in a dedicated area to study the environmental impact on these delicate insects.

A great day-activity for adults and children alike, this WWF protected area is sure to leave you with a new love for nature.

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Asti's Typical Horse Race

Palio di Asti

The third Sunday of September, Asti fires up for the annual Palio - a race in which 21 horses and their riders gallop towards victory.

A Jug-full of Tradition

Douja d'Or

An annual wine-dedicated festival, the Douja d'Or hosts the best wine producers of the area, showcasing Asti's winemaking vocation.

Dedicated to Garlic

Bagna Caöda d'Aj

A typical Piedmontese sauce, bagna caöda is celebrated with its own weekend, in november. Set your fears aside and dip in!

Asti's Typical Horse Race

Palio di Asti

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A Jug-full of Tradition

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