It is the only municipality in the province of Asti to be part of the Roero geographically and geologically, and it is the last hilltop village that concludes the ridge of the Rocche.
The town of Cisterna d’Asti is characterized by a mainly hilly area, covered by woods and vineyards.
The name Cisterna probably derives from the Latin with the meaning of well, deposit (still visible in the inner courtyard of the castle).
It is a village of ancient origin, once surrounded by natural walls and escarpments and dominated by two building complexes: the castle, which houses the “cistern” which gives its name to the town, and the parish church.
The oldest references to the territory of Cisterna allow us to go back to the Roman age. In medieval times Cisterna is an important fortified place. From the first half of the XII century it passes to the Bishop of Asti then in 1242 it is sold to the Municipality of Asti. After various vicissitudes it passed to Gian Francesco dellaRovere (1538) then, after a period in which he returned to the Holy See, the fiefdom was sold in 1650 to Francesco Dal Pozzo, marquis of Voghera.
Local specialties include meliga biscuits, apple pie, honey, grape mustard and grappa. Cisterna doc is a red wine produced from Croatina grapes, an ancient grape variety spread since the Middle Ages and traditionally called Bonarda. The institutional residence of this recent DOC is the Bottega del Vino located in an eighteenth-century brick building with the typical crotin excavated in the sandstone.
WHAT TO SEE
MEDIEVAL CASTLE. In its oldest parts it dates back to the century. XII and is dominated by a square medieval tower; the Castle as it appears today is in part a solid reshaping (part of the end of the 16th century and part of the following century), as involved in a place which, over the centuries, had exercised a control function over many lands and which until 1630 faced the stronghold monferrina of San Damiano. At the end of the eighteenth century the internal courtyard was turned and transformed into a large and high hall. Of particular interest is the tower-gate that protects its access. Under the floor of the central hall of the castle there is a large cistern, an admirable work that rests on the vaults of the underlying cellars and which gives its name to the local place.
In it a mint operated for a few years starting from 1675 by concession of Pope Clement X, but after a few years it was closed due to the beating of fake coins. Today the castle houses the museum mentioned below.
The Museum of “ARTS AND CRAFTS OF A TIME”
The museum is located in the medieval castle and was opened in October 1980. Currently there are more than 5000 objects dating from the 17th to the 20th century, representing the material culture of Piedmont and gathered in 20 shops that reconstruct in a precise and detailed manner activities and past life.
On the floor from the living room: cobbler and saddler, carpenter, weaver, knitter and hemp processing, organ builder, carter, cooper, mattress, basket maker, boiler maker, knife grinder, weights and measures, the peasant house, the middle-class house, etc. On the main floor: bakery, nougat, tavern, typography, salts and tobacconist’s, tailoring. In the cellars: martinet workshop, agricultural and oenological tools and machinery, cellar, history of the vine illustrated by the Piedmont Agriculture Museum, icebox and slaughterhouse tools, evolution of transport.
The parish church, initially named after the Holy Spirit, then to Sts. Gervasio and Protasio like the old one, is located opposite the climb to the castle; it was rebuilt with two naves in 1575, partially rebuilt from 1632 and still in the first half of the 1700s. Just outside the town, on the ancient route to the Rio Maggiore valley, there is the ancient parish church, oriented, dedicated to Ss. Gervasio and Protasio, already frescoed inside and with a cemetery around it; the building still denotes a certain antiquity and the use of sandstone ashlars in the structure. In the west airali there is the church dedicated to San Giuseppe, built in 1636 by the disciplines; the interior, with a large choir, is adorned with an artistic baroque carved wooden altar (which tradition attributes to an unknown friar) and a beautiful seventeenth-century altarpiece of the saint that also provides a view of the castle and the town at the time.