Cuneo is a quiet and lovely town located in the northeast of Turin and northwest of Piedmont region. The city is located at the confluence of the rivers Stura and Gesso in a wedge. Wedge is cuneo in Italian, which inspired the name of the city. The oldest centre presents a checkerboard structure that runs along a road leading to the large lovely and large Piazza Galimberti. The city shape was that of a military citadel . In fact, it had to defend it from the French during the Savoy reign. Here you can find elegant palaces, churches, a shopping area under lovely arcades and baroque cafeterias. You can taste incredible delicacies prepared with coffee, chocolate and nuts. So, in case you want to include Cuneo in your next Italian tour, here is everything you need to know.
A bit of history
Cuneo was founded in 1198 and, according to historians, it was because of its strategic position at the feet of six valleys communicating with France and the Liguria region.
So the first permanent settlements date back to the end of the twelfth century, and lasted until the mid-1200s, when it surrendered to Charles of Anjou. In the 1300s, Cuneo passed to the Savoy family. In the following two centuries, the city had to defend itself during 7 sieges (4 of which against the French), of which only two ended with its capitulation.
For centuries Cuneo remained closed within its walls. During the Napoleonic occupation these walls were demolished and the city could expand. In the years of the Second World War, Cuneo and its surroundings witnessed the fight between fascists and partisans
Here, in 1944, fascist shot the partisan and hero Duccio Galimberti, from which the main square takes its name.
What to see in Cuneo
You can dedicated a day or two to Cuneo and wander in its beautiful historical centre. Visit the Churches of Saint Ambrogio and Saint Francesco and the Civic Tower.
At the end of Viale degli Angeli, a street dedicated to angels, you will find the Sanctuary dedicated to Madonna degli Angeli. In this beautiful complex you can admire chapels adorned with frescoes, churches and cloister. The facility also includes and archeological museum.
What to do in Cuneo
Relax. Every time I visit Cuneo, I have the feeling that year time runs at a different pace: slowly. I have never seen traffic or a crowded place, even during events. Here everything seems conceived to give you enough space to enjoy the city at your own speed. From the Station, head to Piazza Galimberti and just stroll under the arcades. Historical cafeterias with a baroque and royal flavor interrupt the line of the many elegant shops.
Choose a cafeteria and take a seat inside if you want to go back in time. Order a hot chocolate, a coffee or a piece of cake. Enjoy your treat while chatting or, if you are alone, read a book or simply observe life from the show windows.
One of my favourite, and a place where I generally stop when I’m in Cuneo, is Pasticceria Airone in Piazza Galimberti. Ernest Hemingway also stopped here when he came to Cuneo.
Generally a seated coffee with a treat costs some 5/7 euros. The experience of having time for yourself is invaluable.
What to buy
Cold cuts, fresh and handmade pasta, cheese, jam, honey and wine: these are all produced in the thousands farms dotting the region. But remember to include Cuneesi in your shopping list.
Cuneesi, which is also the name of Cuneo’s inhabitants, are huge pralines made with chocolate and a filling of different flavours. Some may contain liquors. My favourite are the so called truffles, dark chocolate covered with cocoa powder.
How to reach Cuneo
By car, Cuneo is connected to Turin and the Ligurian coast through the A6 Torino – Savona motorway.
If you prefer the train, you can reach Cuneo stopping in two stations. Cuneo Centrale is the train station that stops in the city centre. Cuneo Gesso, instead, is a few steps from the historic centre.
And finally by plane, you can fly to Turin. Land at Caselle Airport, and then get a transfer to Cuneo. Few solutions allow you to fly directly to Cuneo Levaldigi, the airport located 30 km from the city.