What To Do In Novi Ligure?
The small town of Novi Ligure has a well-known sweet product: the two chocolate brands Novi and Pernigotti.
Novi Ligure is located near the Scrivia river valley between southern Monferrato and the foothills of the Genoese Apennines. The name indicates the proximity to Liguria, although Novi Ligure still belongs to the Piedmont region.
The area once served rich Genoese for their weekend residences. In the city center there are numerous palaces of rich noble families, many with a painted facade. The heart of Novi Ligure beats in Piazza delle Piane and the surrounding streets, which are free of traffic.
There is always a lot of activity in the alleys, because there are many nice shops and ice cream parlors.
Palaces of Genoese families
The well-known noble families from Genoa, including the Doria, Balbi, Spinola, Negroni, had built palaces in Novi Ligure. You can still partially recognize them by their colors: Most of these houses were painted green or red according to the custom of the city. Particularly impressive are the well-preserved palaces in Piazza delle Piane: the Negroni family palace and the Palazzo Delle Piane. The Palazzo Negroni is located to the left of the Santa Maria Maggiore church and is richly decorated. What is special are two meridians above the entrance portal.
Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maggiore
The Collegiate Church is located in Piazza delle Piane next to the Palazzo Negroni. It was built in the 13th century as a church with three naves and dedicated to Saint Maria Assunta. The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maggiore was rebuilt between the 17th and 18th centuries. During recent restorations, original parts of the beautiful brick facade have come to light. There are nice pictures to see, a recently restored wooden group and the organ.
Pieve Santa Maria
The small parish church of Santa Maria dates from the 12th century, making it the oldest church in Novi Ligure. It is located outside the city center on the road to Cassano. A beautiful fresco painting from 1474 inside is dedicated to the Madonna Oriana di Campofregoso. The Madonna Oriana di Campofregoso was once the saint of Novi.
Castel and City Wall
In the middle of the historic center of Novi Ligure is a hill that has been strategically developed as a defensive castle. A few foundation walls and the tower remain from the former castello. The medieval city center was surrounded by walls- There are four city gates leading to Genoa, Pozzolo (direction Alessandria), Zerbo (direction Serravalle Scrivia in the east), and city gate Valle (west to Ovada). Today there are still a few towers.
The castle hill is the local recreation center of Novi Ligure. In the forest, paths lead to the highest point, the tower. There is a cafè and a climbing garden through the tops of the trees for different ages and levels of difficulty. Everyone can master the course under professional guidance.
Taste the Local Specialties
Like all of Piedmont, Novi Ligure has its regional specialties. The characteristic taste of chocolate and sweets is shaped by the processing of the local hazelnuts.
The Cortese variety is grown in the area around Gavi. The region’s white wine is known under the brand name Gavi DOCG.
Regional cuisine has kept simple, traditional dishes for centuries. The local cuisine is enriched by the Focaccio novese (prepared similarly to the Foccacia genovese) and the Farinata di Ceci. Farinata di Ceci is a salti cake made from chickpea flour with water, salt and olive oil. The farinata can be modified by adding sausage, using wheat flour and baking with vegetables such as eggplant and pumpkin. It is delicious roadside snack.
The feast of “Ceci di Merelle”, the famous chickpeas from Merelle, takes place on the first weekend in September. Also in Merelle, the festival of Sagra della Trippa (tripe) is celebrated on the last Saturday in August.
The cycling legend Fausto Coppi
The most famous son from Novi Ligure is Fausto Coppi, the most successful professional cyclist. A cycling museum is dedicated to the two “Capionissimi” Fausto Coppi and Costante Gilliongo. On the occasion of Fausto Coppi’s 40th year of death, the 2010 Giro d’Italia led through Novi Ligure.
Fortezza di Gavi Fortress
Not far from Novi Ligure is the town Gavi. It is known for white wine and the widely visible Castel, which dominates the landscape in a strategic position. A defense castle was probably already on the mountain in Roman times. The Castello di Gavi has been occupied since the 10th century. The current design was created by Friedrich Barbarossa and later reinforced by the Visconti in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Gavi Castle with the museum can be visited at the weekend.
And yes, the Gavi wine is excellent. A standard to be found in every Italian restaurant around the world. Try it on site.