Ovada is a quiet, little town which can be easily reached by both train and car. Many come to enjoy the natural beauty of its scenic hills, woods and placid, clean rivers.
The historic town center is endowed with ancient, graceful churches, historic buildings and relaxing green areas. The library offers a good choice of books and a new Natural museum is about to open. The 15-th century frescoes which adorn St Sebastian Loggia are well worth the visit.
As regards to entertainment, the local cinema premieres many current films, while drama, concerts and conferences are regularly organized at the two local theatres.
The typical religious processions, with the men of the local brotherhood carrying the statues of the saints making them dance through the narrow streets of the town, are the continuing symbols of Ovada`s tradition.
Cakes, ice-cream and pastries (paste dolci) are some of the best local products together with our reputed red wine, Dolcetto, and farinata. Ovada is also well known for its finely crafted, handmade furniture.
The sports center "Geirino", which is equipped with tennis courts, running-tracks and soccer and volleyball, is open every day. The gyms in Ovada also offer facilities and any type of courses, while from Ovada it is possible to go hiking, trekking and cycling. And in the summer, if you need to relax, you could always enjoy a swim in the local fresh rivers.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TOWN
Ovada, whose origins date back to the Celtic period, lies between the two rivers Orba and Stura, on the piazza where the ancient castle was. The first written document related to our town (991) is San Quintino di Spigno' foundation act. Before the Vienna Congress took place, Ovada was under the administration of Genoa, but then it was annexed to the Savoy kingdom. At the time, most of the people worked in silk mill factories and in the fields.
The break of Ortiglieto's dam in 1935 was one of the most tragic events for our town. A whole village was wiped out and one hundred people died. In the years 1935-1936 local men formed a group of partisans to fight against Fascism. They were persecuted by Nazi-Fascists and the tragic slaughter in the village of Olbicella and La Benedicta became a landmark event in our Resistenza National Movement. After World War II, some important firms set up business nearby. In 1978 a motorway was built, linking Ovada to Genoa and the rest of Northern Europe. (Trafori Motorway).
After a transitional period in the sixties, when farmers abandoned the countryside to move to industrial towns, Ovada went through an agricultural rebirth and can now be proud of its red wines Dolcetto and Barbera (this label meaning they have been subjects to specific vineyards standards).
- Chiesa Parrocchiale N.S.Assunta (18th century). It overlooks the whole town with its two typical campanili, the real symbols of Ovada. The simplicity of the newly restored fašade is in contrast with the rich crafted decorations inside by Pietro Ivaldi, "The Dumb". Paintings showing some of the work protectors hang inside on the aisles; notice the painting by Luca Giordano entitled "Saint Therese in ecstasy".
- Loggia di S. Sebastiano, once Chiesa di St. Maria. The loggia, which has been recently restored, often houses cultural events; it was built in the 18th century on the ruins of a Roman church and belonged to the parish till 1791. Later on the right aisle was assigned to St John Brotherhood and towards the end of the year 1800 it became a public loggia, no longer being a place of worship.
- Oratorio di S. Giovanni Battista. Restored in the 18th century, this oratory still preserves its Rococo stylised decorations. Don't miss the beautiful frescoes on the dome vault, the stucco- decorations and the paintings by Canepa Da Voltri. The wooden crucifix (17th century) by G. Bissoni is remarkable. The wooden platform (used to carry the statues during the religious processions), whose carvings depict scenes from the New Testament, is well worth a look too.
- Oratorio della S.S. Annunziata. The interior of this 15th-century oratory is gracefully decorated with frescoes and stucco works. Notice the Triptych by Francesco Brera illustrating scenes from the Annunciation (15th century) and the two beautiful religious wooden platforms by A.Maragliano and the Genovese School Of Art (17th century).
- Casa Natale di S. Paolo della Croce. A small statue of the saint stands in the middle of this beautiful three-levelled house which was declared a national monument in 1911. It houses a permanent religious museum where the relics of St. Paul are preserved. (Ovada 11694-Rome 1775).
- Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie (San Domenico). Surrounded by beautiful 17th-century buildings, this 15th -century church looms over San Domenico piazza. Its simple facade is decorated with a fresco featuring Virgin Mary with two Dominican saints. Go inside and enjoy the altarpieces, the beautiful paintings and the statue of Virgin Mary standing on the high marble altar by G. F. Parodi, one of Bernini's pupils.
- Chiesa della Beata Vergine della Concenzione (Capuchin monks). It was built in 1641 after a vow the people had made to stop the pestilence in 1630. Don't miss the sumptuous wooden altar in the interior.
- Palazzo Delfino. The rich banker Baracco had this palace built towards the end of the 19th century, but it was actually completed by the Delfino family. It is now the seat of the town administration which bought it in 1924.
- Palazzo Maineri. Everyone calls this building "Palazzo Spinola", but wrongly because it was actually the Maineri family who had it built at the end of the 17th century. The interior is structured in the typical Genovese style. Nowadays it houses the town library and the History Academy.
- Palazzo Rossi-Maineri. It was built in the 17th century by Maineri's family, but at the beginning of the 18th century the Rossis became the new owners. It is now the seat of the local conservatory, "A. Rebora".
- Palazzo Spinola. The Spinola family built this palace as their summer residence (early 19th century) according to the typical style of the time.
- Parco Comunale S. Pertini. A wide green area in the heart of the old town, it is the result of the Franzoniane nuns 'decision to unite the different gardens of Palazzo Maineri and Palazzo Scarsi-Buffa.
- Parco Villa Gabrieli. This park is a good example of a classical English garden where you can find different types of plants from all around the world: sequoias from California, Taxodium Disticum (South Usa) and Cercis Siliquastrum (Mediterranean areas).
- Parco Villa Schella. Enjoy a relaxing walk among Lebanese cedar trees, cypresses and horse-chestnut trees in the gardens of this beautiful ancient villa.
- Sports Center "Geirino". A few minutes walk from the downtown, this modern Sports Center is equipped with soccer fields, tennis courts, running-tracks and facilities for many other sports. Every year it houses an International Meeting for disabled athletes.
- Sferisterio. It was opened to the public for the first time in 1924; it houses very important tamburello (a very popular Italian sport) competitions.
WINE, AGNOLOTTI, FARINATA, HONEY AND COOKIES
In the last few years, Ovada`s wine-producers have focused on quality more than on quantity: they grow grapes only in limited vineyard areas where the soil conditions are at their best. The real wine of repute in Ovada is Dolcetto, the original one being produced only in 22 villages nearby. It is an intense ruby red wine, tending to turn garnet with age. The bouquet is fruity, it tastes dry, smooth and pleasantly almondish. (Overall minimum alcohol 11,5░).
Try it with the highlight of our regional cuisine agnolotti ( ravioli stuffed with pork or beef meat, parmesan cheese and chards): "I anloti an tei vin" (ravioli dressed with wine) are a delight. Other typical dishes are panissa (farinata), made with chick-pea flour, rabbit meat, polenta, vegetable soup (minestrone) and delectable truffles.
Homemade honey has become popular in the recent years. It is well worth trying the typical biscotti della salute, the light and healthy version (no fat at all) of the famous Genovese Lagaccio cookies. They taste divine and are perfect for breakfast or anytime you want to have a light and tasty snack.
FESTIVALS, ENTERTAINMENT AND SEASONAL EVENTS
- Markets: every Wednesday and Saturday morning;
- Fairs: May, the first week-end "Fiera della Croce"; October, the last week-end "Fiera di San Simone"; November, the last week-end "Fiera di Sant Andrea".
- Antique market: May, 1; June, the last Sunday; August, 15; September, the last Sunday; November, 1; December, 8.
- Carnevale Parade, on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.
- May, 1 Concert
- June, 24 Feast of St. John, religious procession and evening concert by A. Rebora Band;
- July, 1-15 "F. Schubert" International musical Festival; on 3rd Sunday of the month "Carmine" religious procession and evening concert; Feast of St. Nazario and Celso and tamburello competition in Grillano;
- August, 14 outdoor Opera concert in the main piazza; 14-15 Costa Fiorita festival;
- October,18 Feast of St Paul, the patron saint of Ovada.
Ovada is one of the towns situated along the so called "Strada del Vino" (Wine Road), leading to the castles and vineyards areas of Alto Monferrato.
Manor-houses, medieval boroughs and Roman Churches are spread throughout the surrounding hills. Among some of the festivals occurring seasonally, we would like to mention the historic battle re- enactment, in Rocca Grimalda, of the people's rebellion against "Ius primae noctis" tradition imposed by the noblemen. Other special events are: in Castelletto, in March, Wine Exhibition; in Molare, in May, Polentone Festival; in Silvano, in July, Puppet Show; in Tagliolo, end of August, Wine Exhibition; in Lerma, in September, Mushroom picking.
In Val d'Orba, a valley near Ovada, it is also possible to go on an adventurous vacation and pan for gold in the local streams. For further information, please contact the National Historic Gold Museum (tel. 0143. 88.22.89).
As regards to religious pilgrimages, we suggest that you visit the sanctuaries which were honored with a special blessing by the Pope for the 2000 Jubilee: Santuario dellaMadonna delle Rocche (Molare), Casa Santuario di Santa Maria Mazzarello (Mazzarelli, Mornese) and Santuario della Bruceta (Cremolino). Just a few minutes by car from Ovada, you can also visit the Regional Natural Park Capanne di Marcarolo.
- IAT - Via Cairoli, 103 0143 821043
- Accademia Urbense - Archivio storico Alto Monferrato
http://accademiaurbense.interfree.it 0143 81615
- Associazione Alto Monferrato - Via S. Antonio, 3
www.altomonferrato.net 0143 822102
- Biblioteca Civica "Eraldo e Marie Ighina" - P.zza Cereseto, 7
e-mail : AL0123@biblioteche.reteunitaria.piemonte.it 0143 81774
- Casa Natale S.Paolo della Croce - Via San Paolo, 89 0143 80100
- Cinema Teatro Comunale - Corso LibertÓ, 10 0143 81411
- Cinema Teatro Splendor - Via Buffa, 1 0143 80404
- Civica Scuola di Musica "A. Rebora" - Via San Paolo 0143 81773
- Civico Museo Paleontologico -Via S. Antonio 0143 81774
- Centro Polisportivo Geirino - Loc. Geirino 0143 835487
- Consorzio Tutela del Dolcetto di Ovada - Via S. Paolo, 15 0143 86169
- Jov@net (servizio Informagiovani) - P.zza Cereseto, 5 0143 80786
- Polizia Municipale - Via Buffa 0143 836260
- S.A.A.M.O.trasporto pubblico - Str. Rebba 0143 80428
- Stazione Ferroviaria - P.zza Cadorna 0143 80374
- Taxi 0143 81873
WINE - PRODUCERS' FARMS AND WINE BARS
- Gaggino Gabriele - Via S. Evasio 29 0143 822345
- Grossi Paolo - Strada Lunarolo, 12 0143 86938
- Il Colle - Strada Cappellette, Loc. Baretti, 68/A 0143 823058
- Ratto Giuseppe - Cascina Olive Scarsi - Str. S. Lorenzo 0143 831953
- Rossi Contini Annalysa - Strada S. Lorenzo, 20 0143 822530
- San Martino - Via Roccagrimalda, 51 0143 81468
- Tenuta Carlotta e Rivarola - Via Grillano, 6 0143 821085
- Villa Montoggia - Via Parasio, 16 0143 822039
- Albergo Italia - Via San Paolo, 54 0143 86502
- Albergo Vittoria - Via Voltri, 27 0143 80196
- Bed and Breakfast Macci˛ Giovanna - Str. S. Bernardo, 8 0143 80243
- Bed and Breakfast Soldi Giovanna - Corso Saracco, 53 0143 80207
- Bed and Breakfast Villa Schella - Str. Molare, 8 0143 80324