Its origins are obscure. According to some it was founded by the inhabitants of the surrounding heights, who came down to the coast in the tenth century to devote themselves to seafaring activities.
For others, the first nucleus was created by Benedictines from the island of Gallinara. They did in fact have a fief here up until the twelfth century, when the territory was sold to the Commune of Albenga, from which it did not gain its freedom until the sixteenth century. It was at this time that that the city walls, traces of which are still standing, and the imposing tower by the sea were built.
The most interesting of the religious buildings is the parish church of Sant’Ambrogio: although its tall campanile with a spire dates from the eleventh century, the church was rebuilt several times during the Renaissance and modern era.
The Palazzo Scofferi dates from the seventeenth-eighteenth century, as does the Palazzo Ferrero de Gubernatis, restored in the nineteenth century.
The energies that Alassio has devoted to the improvement and renovation of its tourist and bathing facilities has made it a seaside resort of international repute, where vacationers congregate not only on the beach but also at two other famous focal points: “Il Budello,” the narrow alley running parallel to the promenade and lined with stores, and the “muretto” of the public gardens, a wall with hundreds of ceramic tiles bearing the signatures of the many celebrities who have stayed in Alassio, commencing with Hemingway and Chaplin.
The tourist harbor, with two wharves and five piers, can accommodate around 400 boats.
Where to stay in Alassio
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Traces of the original Roman settlement can be seen in the remains of suburban villas along the route of the ancient Via Julia Augusta, and the ruins of the baths, an aqueduct, the amphitheater and a number of tombs, including the so-called “Pilone”.
The center of the city of Albenga has retained its compact medieval structure, with houses huddled against towers. The heart of the historic center is Piazza San Michele, on which the cathedral stands: structures from the eleventh century survive in the lower part of the facade and from the thirteenth century in the upper part.
Its campanile, rebuilt in 1391-95 with five stories on a Romanesque base, is considered one of the finest late Gothic monuments in Liguria. The interior of the church, which has been restored to its medieval appearance, houses frescoes by Carrega, a panel painted by Pancalino in 1520 and a fifteenth-century Pentecost, in addition to the monumental nineteenth-century Serassi organ.
A few meters away stands the baptistery, which has remained practically intact since the fifth century, and the medieval complex of the Palazzo Vecchio del Comune (Old City Hall) with its charming tower on a base of black stone, dating from the fourteenth century. Behind the apse of the cathedral lies the Piazzetta dei Leoni, named after its three stone lions from the Renaissance, which is dominated by the sixteenth-century Palazzo Costa (now the bishop’s palace) and the battlemented tower of the same name.
Other relics of the Middle Ages can be seen in Piazza Girolamo Rossi, with its intact example of a fourteenth-century house, and on Via Bernardo Ricco which retains much of its original appearance.
A visit to the museums of Albenga also provides an opportunity explore the splendid buildings in which they are housed: the Palazzo Vecchio and the decorated rooms of Palazzo Peloso Cepolla, formerly the archbishop’s palace.
Nowadays the Albenga plain is used chiefly for the growing of potted plants, herbs and highvalue early produce, using advanced farming methods supported by the Center for Agricultural Experimentation and Assistance of the Savona Chamber of Commerce.
Where to stay in Albenga
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Facing onto the bay that extends between Capo Mele and Capo Cervo, it used to belong to the marchesi di Clavesana, who chose to make their home at Borgo Castello: the latter comprises the church of Santi Giacomo e Filippo in late Romanesque style, the tower that served as the entrance to the castle and, on the top of the hill, the little church of San Nicolo’, the “Paraxu” or residence of the Genoese governor and the remains of the polygonal castle with its fortifications. Other relics from the medieval period include the large Romanesque bridge with its ten arches spanning the Merula River, a fountain and a number of small lookout towers to guard against raids by Barbary pirates on the surrounding hills.
An important seaside resort with a marina that can accommodate 670 boats, Andora has embraced the tourist industry and expanded all its structures, with particular emphasis on sports facilities: the town offers courses in swimming, sailing and windsurfing, along with tennis courts and riding schools.
One of the most interesting events of the year is the summer program of concerts known as the Estate Musicale Andorese.
An insider tip from Laura, touristic guide:
Andora has been the subject of speculation constructions in the years 1960-70, and is not really the best destination on the coast.