Located in the southernmost part of Monferrato, Agliano Terme suddenly comes into sight as a town of immense beauty. Here you will find two completely opposite worlds: agriculture, which has preserved the rhythms and customs of traditional rural life, and tourism, which has been able to offer a vital boost to the town’s economy. Along with its scenic treasures to be discovered on foot, horseback or bicycle, Agliano Terme owes its touristic fame to its thermal waters surging from the Vallata delle Fonti (Valley of the Springs), discovered in 1770. Agliano Terme is indeed today famous for its thermal springs, the Fons Salutis and Fonte San Rocco from which water rich in magnesium salts surges at a temperature of 13.8° C. When imbibed the waters are effective for treating inflammatory diseases of the the digestive tract, liver, and biliary tract. When inhaled they aid in the treatment of respiratory tract problems.
Originally a Roman settlement, in the 13th century Agliano acquired a certain degree of notoriety from the third family “branch” of the lords of Agliano: Bonifacio di Agliano, son of Belda and Guglielmo di Moncucco, married the widow of Manfred I Lancia who, when she came to Agliano, brought with her her daughter Bianca from her first marriage. Enchanted by Bianca’s striking beauty, Emperor Frederick II fell hopelessly in love with her and, despite already having a wife, had two children with her: Constance and Manfred of Sicily, who was first regent and then King of Sicily – the figure of the noble Manfred was mentioned by Dante in the Purgatory, Canto III. In 1531 Agliano passed into the ownership of Savoy. At the end of the 19th century the town acquired fame thanks to its thermal baths.
There are two churches on the town’s main square, which offers an evocative panorama of the Astesana (the region around Asti). The parish church dedicated to St. James the Greater was reconstructed beginning in 1657. Nearby is the church formerly consecrated to the Brotherhood of St. Michael; baroque in form, it preserves an interesting bell tower. Now deconsecrated, it is used as a multi-purpose center.
Rising above a hill in the small village of Molisso, located to the north near the municipality of Montegrosso, and surrounded by age-old cypress trees, is the Sanctuary of the Annunciation initially inhabited by hermit monks. According to some historians, the origin of the village’s name may be linked to a member of the Giordano family from Agliano who received appointments and honors in the Contado (County) di Molise, in the Kingdom of Naples.
The municipality of Agliano Terme is the site of a Scuola Alberghiera (hotel school) which plays an important role in promoting the traditional cuisine of the Piedmont. The town is also famous for its excellent wines. In addition to the DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata) Barbera d’Asti, it also produces Barbera del Monferrato, Freisa d’Asti, Dolcetto, Cortese, Brachetto and Chardonnay. In late April and May, Agliano Terme celebrates “Barbera Days”.