The name of Castelnuovo Calcea comes from the Roman Castrum Novum, to which was added "ad calcarias" because the nearby Roman road required frequent earthing up and maintenance. Before the Romans, this ancient town was originally inhabited by the Ligurian Statielli, then the Celts and finally the Gauls. After the Romans came the Longobards, followed by the Franks.
Before being handed over to the Savoys in 1735, the town was part of the Duchy of Milan. All that remains of the medieval towered castle in the centre of the town are the bastions and the watch tower. Built in 1154 by the D'Incisa marquises, it was destroyed by the Savoyards in 1634, then rebuilt several times because it suffered much damage during the wars that brought bloodshed to the Monferrato over the next two centuries. The last significant rebuilding was in the 17th century when the towers and the donjon were rebuilt and the western part, damaged by a serious fire, was repaired.
Currently the area where the castle stood and the remains left after various collapses in 1945, 1952 and 1961 are the property of the Municipality of Castelnuovo Calcea, which acquired the site in 1985. The first works to clean up the site and recover the courtyard and entranceway began in 1989. In 1998 the circular watch tower, which features on the municipal coat of arms, was finally reinforced and renovated. A large open space was created below it and is used to stage various summer events (dance shows, gastronomic evenings, concerts, plays, etc.).
Summer 2004 saw the renovation of "La terrazza degli Ulivi," the underground communication trench that leads to the highest point in the town, a public green space offering a panoramic view from the Apennines to the Alps.
Free and unguided, the tour follows the external perimeter. What is still visitable today dates back to the 17th-century rebuilding; traces of the medieval structure can only be seen in the entranceway and the towers. The area formerly occupied by the castle has been turned into a public park.
Local sights: 17th-century baroque parish church dedicated to Santo Stefano Martire, patron saint of the town; San Rocco, Annunziata, Madonna di Loreto, San Siro and Maria Ausiliatrice rural chapels; Angelo Brofferio cultural centre with the "Me ritorn" museum, an exhibition of documents and mementoes from the life of Angelo Brofferio, Subalpine Parliament member and Cavour's political adversary; Nido delle Memoria museum.
In the area: Valtiglione, Nizza Monferrato, Moasca, Agliano Terme, Montegrosso, Asti (around 35 km away), Orme su La Court artistic park in Calamandrana
Typical products: Barbera, Grignolino, Cortese, Dolcetto
Events: Maschere e Bugie (February); patron saint's day (August)