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Welcome To Cuneo
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 51,784 (2003)
Official website: Cuneo
Wikipedia: Cuneo

Map: MapQuest

The small city of Cuneo is the capital of its namesake Province.  It sits in the bottom lands of the Valle Stura, at the confluence two rivers, the Gesso and the Stura di Demonte, both of which flow down from the Maritime Alps on Italy's north western border with France. The shape of the land where the two rivers meet is in the shape of a "V", and hence the name Cuneo, which means "wedge" in Italian.

Cuneo was developed primarily in the 12th Century, relatively late compared to other Italian cities.  It was originally encircled with massive walls and other fortifications because of its strategic position guarding the Tenda and Maddalena passes into France.  Napoleon conquered the area in 1797 and during his short reign over Italy, he had the walls torn down.

Like Turin, the capital of Piemonte Region, Cuneo, is laid-out on a table of land between the rivers, in a grid that features wide streets and broad avenues with many large piazzas.  These streets and avenues are lined with porticoed buildings, and overlooked by the palazzos of the powerful and wealthy artistocratics and merchants of a by-gone age.

The heart of Cuneo, is Piazza Galimberti, built in the 19th century as part of the "new" city.  The square is quite empty most days, but fills with the sounds of a large market every Tuesday. 

Along the length of its main avenues, via Roma and corso Nizza and other streets surrounding the Piazza are 8 kilometers of arcades, fronting neo-classical and sometimes medieval buildings.  These arcades, with porticoes and arches of different heights and widths, give Cuneo a unique quality, and offer protection from the weather: shade to summer visitors and shelter from rain and snow in other seasons.

In the old part of the city, the most imposing, and beautiful architecture is that of the Chiesa San Francesco, and an adjacent monastery, both done in the Gothic style. The church houses the Museo Civico, the city museum,  known for its display of ancient artifacts from the city and province, but also a wide collection of ethnic costumes.  Another historical building worth seeing is the 17th century Palazzo Audifreddi.

Follow the contrada Mondovi into the medieval section of the old town, full of interesting old shops, cafes and restaurants.  A 17th century synagogue marks what used to be the Jewish ghetto.

In the new town the churches, including the Duomo, which was built on the foundations of an earlier, ancient church, are done more in the Baroque style.  The other Baroque churches include St. Ambrogio, St. Mary, St. Cross and St. Clear.

The city hall - or Palazzo di Citta - was built during the waning years of the Renaissance and has Renaissance elements veering into the far more ornamented Baroque style.  Overlooking the city hall is a  clock tower - the torre civica - which was built in the 13th century.

We like to recommend visits to Italy in the spring or fall because it is less crowded and temperatures are more moderate.  But, Cuneo is in the north, by the mountains and enjoys moderate temperatures even in the summer time.  Still, one of Cuneo's major festivals, the Fiera delle Castagne (Chestnut fair) which is in September.

Cuneo is also used by many as their "base camp" for excursions into the mountains where they can enjoy a wide variety of alpine activities such as hiking, rock climbing, mountain climbing, mountain biking and, of course, skiing.  To the south of Cueno on the SS74, the ancient hamlet of Limone Piemonte, between two national parks, has evolved as a world class ski destination.

Cuneo Province is the largest of the Piemontese provinces - known there as the Provincia Granda.  The economy, apart from tourism, is based in agriculture, food production and packaging, some metallurgy, paper, rubber, and engineering services.

by Vian Andrews November 19th, 2005

Region of Piemonte


By Car: From Torino, south on the A6 to the SS17, west to Cuneo, about 96 km (60 miles); From Genoa, east to Savona on the A10north to Fossano on the A6, then east to Cuneo on the SS231, about 140 km (86.25 mi).
By Air: 
Torino or Genoa
Train or Bus
: Torino or Genoa.


Cuneo Coat of Arms

Street in Cuneo