The region of Gavi, which is made up of the Lemme River Valley and the surrounding hills and mountains, has been inhabited since ancient times. Early historic documentation dates back to the Bronze Tablet of the Polcevara Valley of the 117 BC, in which the settlement of the Cavaturini is mentioned – so-called probably because they lived in caves and grottoes – in the area of the Lemor, which today is known as the Lemme. It is thought that the name “Gavi” also has the same origins, deriving from Cavatum with the elision of the consonant “t”.
Following the fall of the Roman Empire Gavi became part of the Frankish domains. Moreover the presence of Saracens is attested around the Xth Century. This was proved when Arabic arms were found as well as by the examination of the toponymy: the eastern part of the mountain on which the Fortress of Gavi rises, which was built in around the year 1000, is named “Monte Moro” (the Moors Mount).

At the beginning of the second millennium Gavi belonged to the Obertenghi family. From them discended the Marquises who, from the XII Century, assumed the title “of Gavi”. The first Marquis of Gavi was Guido, followed in 1116 by his son Alberto. Alberto ruled for six decades, and during this time he brought to Gavi, which was in a strategic position between Tortona, the Aleramic Marquisate and Genoa, a period of strong economic and political development. However, with this new importance Gavi then experienced a period of instability, that only ceased with the domination of the Emperor Frederick the 1st Hohenstaufen, known as “Barbarossa”, who had friendly and family ties to the Marquises of Gavi. With the death of Barbarossa (1190) there began a period of irreversible decline for the region of Gavi which resulted in the passing of the whole area under the administration of the Genoese with an official act dated 16th September 1202.

From then on the affairs of Gavi were closely tied to those of the Republic of Genoa which dominated the region with the exception of the period between 1348 and 1358, when the area was controlled by the Visconti, and between 1418 and 1528, when first the Visconti ruled again and were then succeeded by the Fregosos and the Guascos of Alessandria.
Under the Genoese the area of Gavi, and in particular its fortress, were the scene of numerous conflicts and battles: against the Franco-Piedmontese, who in 1625 besieged the fortress for 17 days; against the Austrians, who at the end of the 18th Century briefly occupied the fortress; during the Napoleonic period  when the French and Austrian troops clashed in the area.
The Genoese domination of Gavi only ceased definitively in 1814, when the Republic of Genoa was suppressed and its territories were transferred to the dominion of the King of Sardinia Victor Emanuel I following his treaties with France, Austria and England at the Congress of Vienna. With this change the geo-political and strategic importance of the area of Gavi and its fortress ceased, and the fortress was definitively demilitarised in 1854.


Places of Interest

The area of Gavi is particularly rich in places of historical and natural interest. These vary from historic towns like Gavi, Novi Ligure, San Cristoforo, Capriata d’Orba, Tassarolo and Voltaggio, which are all rich in Medieval artistic and architectural heritage, to the splendid surrounding hills which are interspersed with vineyards and a unique balance between fields and woodlands. The Regional Park of Capanne di Marcarolo is also noteworthy, with its uncontaminated forests, rivers and remarkable scenery.

The Gastronomy

The local gastronomic tradition is without doubt of the highest level. In first place, surely lie the famous Gavi ravioli, that legend states were prepared for the first time by the Raviolo family in the XIIIth Century. They are not only served with the typical meat sauce (al tocco) but also in wine or “a culo nudo” (that is to say with no sauce so as to bring out the true flavours). Other important specialities are the Gavi risotto, the Focaccia stirata (a sort of drawn out pizza bread) and the testa in cassetta, a local type of salami or brawn that is characteristic of a number of parts of Italy but that in Gavi is specially prepared in order to bring out the delicate flavour that makes it a perfect match for the Cortese wine.

No meal would be complete without typical desserts such as the famous Amaretti di Gavi, the baci di dama (ladies kisses) and the canestrelli.