Situated 95 m. above sea level on the right bank of the Tanaro, slightly above its confluence with the Bormida, at the junction of important lines of communication between the Po Valley and Liguria.
Formed in the 12th century through the union of several pre-existing centres, it took this name in 1168 (in honour of Pope Alexander III) when it joined the Lombard League. It formed part of the Duchy of Milan from 1348 to 1524 and remained in the hands of the Spanish until 1706, before passing to the Savoys and then to the Kingdom of Sardinia.
Many times destroyed, the Cittadella (fortress), part of the ancient fortifications, and built in 1728 by Vittorio Amedeo II, is still standing; towards the end of last century, the town began to expand outside its walls.
Monuments: The neo-classical cathedral, the churches of Santa Maria del Carmine and Santa Maria di Castello and the Palazzo della Prefettura, designed by Benedetto Alfieri.
Alessandria is an important market for agricultural and animal products with active food (confectionery), garment (hats), chemical, engineering, footwear and wood industries.
Events: Alessandria’s Gastronomical Autumn (September-October), Madonnina dei Centauri International Gathering (July), International Classical Guitar Competition (biennial).
Famous People: Giorgio Merula (humanist, 1430-1494), Guglielmo Caccia known as `Moncalvo’ (artist, 1565-1625), Urbano Rattazzi (politician, 1808-1873).
Cultural Institutions: Museo and Pinacoteca Civica (civic museum and art gallery), Conservatorio Vivaldi (conservatory), Teatro Municipale Virginia Marini (municipal theatre), Museo del Cappello (hat museum).
In the Province: Acqui Terme (thermal springs, archaeological museum, Cavalcata Aleramica at the end of May), Casale Monferrato (wine trade), Tortona, Novi Ligure, Valenza (goldsmiths), Vignale Monferrato (dance festival).