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Municipality of Asti (I) [web site external link]
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Asti is a city and municipality in the Piemonte or Piedmont region, in north-western Italy, about 55 kilometres east of Turin in the plain of the Tanaro River.
It is the capital of the province of Asti. It has a polulation of 73,000 inhabitants.

The city’s four administrative districts cover a surface area of roughly 33 square kilometres, and constitute the residential area of the Provincial capital, as opposed to the more rural territory defined by the remaining ten administrative districts. Asti is a hospitable city on a human scale in which it is pleasant to walk through the old town centre discovering towers, buildings and shops.

Asti, as can be seen from its elegant medieval remains, lived its golden age around the middle of the 12th century, when thanks to the proceeds deriving from the activities of its bankers, the free Comune was enriched with public and private buildings.

In those times the tradition of the ‘Palio’ was established, the profile and nucleus of the city was defined, and the strongholds and towers of the influential local families were consolidated.
The centre of the city is crossed by Corso Vittorio Alfieri, named in honour of the poet born in Asti in 1749 and whose birthplace can be found along this street at number 375.

The heart of Asti is Piazza San Secondo where the ‘Palazzo di Città’, home of the Municipal Council since 1558 and the Church of San Secondo, the Patron Saint of Asti both stand.
Museums of considerable interest are the municipal historical archive, the Synagogue and Jewish museum, the art gallery (currently being restructured), the Crypt of Sant’Anastasio, the complex of San Pietro in Consavia and the Troyana Tower.

The religious heart of the city and a splendid example of Gothic Piemontese architecture is the cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and San Gottardo,built between 1309 and 1354 on the ruins of the former cathedral.
Splendid frescoes and paintings by Gandolfino da Roreto and by Gugliemo Caccia are preserved inside it.
Other good reasons for a stay in Asti are the numerous events that keep the city alive the whole year round.

The Easter period is traditionally animated by the Easter egg collection, known as the Cante’J’Euv: during this event folk singing groups of cantors fill the centre of the city reviving the ancient ritual, at one time practised by all the towns in the area,of collecting the eggs and signalling the beginning of spring.

The rich September program in Asti opens with the ‘Vetrina di Vino e di Sapori’, a showcase for all the best in Piemontese enogastronomic tradition, with moments of folklore and cultural events in the surrounding administrative districts.

The ‘Festival delle Sagre’ is held on the 2nd Sunday in September. Started in 1974, it is a celebration of the enogastronomic traditions of the city and its territory, which roughly 40 local tourist boards of the Province take part in. The festival opens with a grand procession depicting views of peasant life, with strong attention paid to the rural culture of the Asti territory.

Immediately afterwards the Campo del Palio piazza transforms itself into an enormous restaurant, where each town or village offers its own specialities.
Still in September, the ‘Douja d’Or’ National Show of Selected Wines takes place, with tasting and sales of hundreds of different makes of wine coming from all over Italy.

The oldest event, with at least seven centuries of history behind it and various episodes and long interruptions over the course of the centuries, is without doubt the Palio, run in Asti on the third Sunday in September and which transforms the city into a medieval spectacle.

The ‘Palio’is the great velvet drape with the arms of Asti and depicting the Patron Saint to which the 21 pretenders aspire, but the term ‘Palio’ actually also refers to the whole event, comprising an impressive historical procession with 1200 characters, a majestic show of flag wavers and the historical horse race, during which the jockeys ride their mounts “bareback”i.e.without a saddle.

The Captain of the Palio will present the drape to the first rider to arrive, while the last will receive the ‘inchioda’ (anchovy) with salad.

Connected to this event are the festivities for the Patron Saint’s feast in the month of May, when on the 1st Saturday before the 1st Tuesday in May, the ‘Stima del Palio’and the ‘Giuramento dei Rettori’,the Patron Saint’s feast day,the ‘offerta del Palio’(1st Tuesday in May) and the great ‘Fiera Carolingia’ all take place (1st Wednesday in May).

In the same period The Asti Town Fair is held (during 1st ten days of May).
During the rest of the year there is the “Astiteatro” international theatre season (June/July) as well as ‘Astimusica’ (July).

Again in the streets of the old town centre,the 3rd week-end in November is the appointment for the by now traditional exhibition - market ‘Cucina & Cantina’and the Regional Truffle Show during which the prestigious white savoury truffle is celebrated.There are also other events taking place the whole year round, such as the typical agricultural products market, held every fourth Sunday in the month in Piazza Alfieri under the ‘Anfossi’ colonnade: on this occasion dozens of stands exhibit and sell their typical Piemonte products, from wines to cheese, honey to confectionery.
The Antique market takes place in the adjacent streets.
For those who love organic products, every second Saturday in the month, Piazza San Secondo hosts the organic products market.

MUNICIPALITY OF ASTI

The main institutional duties of the Municipality of Asti are specified in its statute.
They concern the custody of cultural values and democratic traditions: the promotion of the social and economic development of the local community and the valorisation of cultural, historical and civic resources; the promotion of solidarity in local communities, with particular attention to those who are most at risk; the implementation of activities aimed at encouraging equal opportunities between men and women; the preservation of the environment and the territory; and finally the security of the citizens.

Being a public board, it's responsible on its territorial area of the connection with the institutions operating on the territory (region, province, prefecture, police-headquarters, penal and civil court) and guarantees the continuity of the projects already started.

Further to the environmental sector, Asti has been implementing energy-saving strategies, through the participation to the MUSEC project, aimed at the creation of sustainable communities in 5 countries: Italy (also represented by Foggia and Ravenna), Holland (Breda), Bulgaria (Dobrich), Germany (Crailsheim), Denmark (Copenaghen).

In a classification on urban ecosystem, edited by Legambiente – Il Sole 24 ore, the town of Asti ranks fifth for energy saving and diffusion of renewable sources.
Comparing different experiences, exchanging good practises, is fundamental to improve the actions already carried out on the territory, besides being an opportunity for professional growth for civil servants involved in the sector.
The Musec project involves all stakeholders of the energetic sector (Utility Company (ASP), Gaia, Professional Orders, Environmental associations).

In three years, from 2003 to 2006, the overall amount invested by the Municipality in solar energy was Euro 84.100,00; an amount of Euro 101.000 were allocated to promote the purchase of electric bicycles and the reconversion to methane-powered cars.

The Energetic Plan approved in 2005 established the criteria now in force to manage the supply of energy for heating purpose: more than 200 gas heaters were replaced with methane powered ones; 5 solar panel heating will be installed in sport facilities.

Between 2005 and 2006, eight photovoltaic systems were set up on town-owned buildings; for the next future, the Environmental Department along with the Planning Department and the Front Office for Enterprises (SPUN), is planning to set up an electric power plant and district heating in the area of Quarto, addressed to productive settlements.

More than 15.500 light bulbs have been distributed by the Municipality since 16 February 2007, on the occasion of the Energy Saving Day, promoted by Caterpillar, a Radio2 emission, and also joined by the Municipality of Asti. The distribution of light bulbs was carried out with GhSolutions.

The municipality of Asti has also set up a special office, named "Sportello Europa" to manage community programme and to spread the UE policies among the population, with a specia focus on economic and social development and citizen's security.

The staff can provide an efficient co-ordination of the activities because of the sharing of technical skills and experiences, among the experts involved. Sportello Europa of the Municipality of Asti has a four-year experience in the field of planning and management of activities financed by European and national funds. Its staff is composed by experts covering different fields in order to assure a correct and efficient management of foreseen activities and an operative organisation of events.
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