Albenga, Province of Savona, Liguria
This important seaside resort along the "Riviera di Ponente" (Western Riviera) is situated at the estuary of the Centa river, and was strategically important since Roman times, being on the Via Aurelia, one of the main Roman roads. The commune includes also the Natural Reserve of the island of Gallinara, where existed a monastery dedicated to St Martin from Tours. Albenga occupies one of the very few plain areas of Liguria, where an intensive agriculture is practised, as well as a rich production of flowers.
- Altitude: 5 m a.s.l
- Population: about 23,000 inhabitants
- Zip/postal code: 17031
- Dialing Area Code: +39 0182
- Patron Saint: St Michael Archangel, celebrated on 29th September
- Frazioni & Localities: Bastia d'Albenga, Campochiesa, Leca, Lusignano, Salea, San Fedele, San Giorgio
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The place was inhabited by a Ligurian population called Ingauni, and its ancient name was Albium Ingaunum, which was later changed to Albingaunum. It was granted a Roman municipium by Julius Caesar in the 1st century BC and under the Roman Empire grew in importance, controlling the whole valley of the Tanaro river. After the fall of the Empire in 476 Ad, it was occupied by the Goths, then by the Byzantines and the Lombards. A legend tells that Albenga was saved from a Saracen raid in the 17th century by an apparition near the small church of Nostra Signora di Pontelungo, and since then the 2nd of July a festivity celebrates the event.
What to see
- The historical center, one of the best preserved in the Liguria region, still surrounded by walls, with many towers and medieval palaces.
- The octagonal Battistero, an early Christian building of the 5th century AD, where a basin for immersion baptism is contained, and mosaic decorations.
- The "Museo Navale Romano", which preserves over 1000 items found on a shipwreck of the 1st century AD
- The Archeological site at the estuary of the Centa - recently a tomb of a girl dating back to the earliest centuries of the Christian era were found; the girl had gold net covering her hair, which is almost a unique finding. Also remains of a spa are being excavated, with a pool of 15x20 meters, which is so far the largest thermal pool found in Italy.
- The "Riserva Naturale Regionale Isola Gallinara", where Roman ships were found, is today a shelter for the Herring Gull, with one of the largest colonies of this bird in the Mediterranean, rare plant species and intact sea bottoms.
- 2 July: festivity of the Santuario di Pontelungo
- Early September: at Salea, wine festival, dedicated to the Vino Pigato and other quality wines of the Riviera.