Many know it for an old advertisement for the famous biscuits (not the original ones, however), others because a relative has provided military service here but this quiet town that looks at the Po river and has a shawl of hills, in the past it was the capital of Monferrato.
I could start by telling you about Aleramo and the legend of his with a MON fast iron horse (in the local language, Mon means “brick,” from which the name Monferrato). It allowed him to conquer this tremendous, hilly, fertile territory …
Or I could tell you about the Paleologian dynasty of Gonzaga, but I won’t. The Monferrato history is complex and fascinating; what matters is to know that Casale is very ancient and that Italian history has passed through here.
I will accompany you, as I do with friends who come and see me for the first time, to see the most interesting monuments in the historic center of Casale.
The first significant building you will stumble upon from the bridge over the Po river is the Castle, the ancient Renaissance stronghold.
Given its geographical position, Casale was always a strategic place. This fortress, remodeled over the centuries, was a fundamental defensive point. Walking around the moat, we find a statue entitled “La Difesa” – the Defense –, a female figure facing the Po in a warlike attitude, like saying: – Be careful! -. Fortunately, the Castle is now a container for events, exhibitions, concerts, home of the children’s library, and the Enoteca del Monferrato, where we can sit and taste good wine. Cheers!
AND WHILE WALKING IN THE TOWN STREETS, THE SCENT OF THE KRUMIRI OFTEN ATTRACTS YOUR NOSTRILS. THE ROSSI DI PORTINARO BISCUITS ARE SAID TO BE INSPIRED BY THE MUSTACHE OF KING VITTORIO EMANUELE.
Taking via Saffi, you immediately see the Civic Tower, a city symbol. It is also called Torre di Santo Stefano because it is located next to the church of the same name, but the bell tower is not.
Going further, you arrive in Piazza Mazzini, the heart of the town center. This is where you need great self-control over your taste buds, as the scent of the original Krumiri Rossi di Portinaro biscuits is everywhere. They are baked nearby and bring the water to your mouth only by smelling the air. These rough and curved-looking biscuits were invented in 1878 by pastry chef Domenico Rossi, maybe to honor King Vittorio Emanuele II, who died that year.
The “handlebar mustache” of King Galantuomo seems to have inspired the curvature of the dolcetto. Regarding the name “Krumiro,” there would be no political reference. Still, some think it derives from the word of a liqueur of the time. Mr. Rossi received several awards for his creation, including one very important at the 1884 Universal Exposition, which made it known throughout Italy as a newborn.
The Krumiri biscuit, now exported worldwide, has always been the same. Although the Portinaro family has long taken over the bakery, they are still handcrafted in the same laboratory. The biscuits are hand-boxed in the traditional red-framed packaging with the Savoy coat of arms.
There is no Casalese family that does not have at least one of these tin boxes at home. My grandmother kept the necessary to sew in one of them, my aunt the greeting cards, and I, as a child, the stickers. And there is no child who, grabbing a krumiro before eating it, did not lean it between his nose and lip like a mustache!
C’è chi dice di conoscere la ricetta dei Krumiri: non credeteci, quelli originali sono inimitabili e hanno un Some say they know the recipe for Krumiri. But don’t believe them! The original Krumiro cannot be imitated and has a secret ingredient. Maybe it is the history of Casale amalgamated with eggs, sugar, and flour.
JUST A FEW STEPS FROM THE PORTINARO SHOP, COME AND SEE ONE OF MY CITY’S “HIGHLIGHTS”, THE SANT’EVASIO CATHEDRAL.
I like its simple facade, terracotta, and tuff stone typical of the area. However, visiting the church’s inside is a must because its atrium is very particular.
Then I invite you to stroll in Via Roma arcades to be intrigued by the surprises you will find in the doors of its small side streets.
For example, you could visit the Baroque Synagogue, a jewel hidden in the former Jewish ghetto, or the Civic Museum and the Gipsoteca of the great sculptor Bistolfi. Of course, we can also see the park, but … it’s getting late!
Let’s return to the great Po river and enjoy a Monferrato sunset at the pier.
I hope you enjoyed the trip; I would still have much to show you and tell you over a glass of good wine, perhaps accompanied by a plate of agnolotti … but that’s another story.