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Città di Tortona
Coat of arms of Tortona
Coat of arms
Tortona is located in Italy
Location of Tortona in Italy
Coordinates: 44°53′39″N 08°51′56″E / 44.89417°N 8.86556°E / 44.89417; 8.86556
Country Italy
Region Piedmont
Province Alessandria (AL)
Frazioni Torre Garofoli, Rivalta Scrivia, Vho, Mombisaggio, Castellar Ponzano, Bettole di Tortona, Torre Calderai
 • Mayor Gianluca Bardone (Centre-Left)
 • Total 99.29 km2 (38.34 sq mi)
Elevation 122 m (400 ft)
Population (31 December 2011)[1]
 • Total 27,864
 • Density 280/km2 (730/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Tortonesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 15057
Dialing code 0131
Patron saint St. Marcian of Tortona
Saint day 6 March
Website Official website

Tortona is a comune of Piemonte, in the Province of Alessandria, Italy. Tortona is sited on the right bank of the Scrivia between the plain of Marengo and the foothills of the Ligurian Apennines.


Tortona Cathedral (postcard from c.1890).
Piazza Duomo and on right the palace of Bishop.

Known in ancient times as Dertona, the city was probably the oldest colony under Roman rule in the westernmost section of the Valley of the Po, on the road leading from Genua (Genoa) to Placentia (Piacenza). The city was founded c. 123–118 BC at the junction of the great roads; the Via Postumia and the Via Aemilia Scauri which merged to become the Via Julia Augusta. The site made Dertona an important military station under the Romans. Strabo speaks of it as one of the most considerable towns in this part of Italy, and we learn from Pliny that it was a Roman colony. Velleius mentions it among those founded under the Republic, it appears to have been recolonised under Augustus, from whence we find it bearing in inscriptions the title of Julia Dertona.[2] The assassin of Caesar, Brutus, encamped at Dertona on his march in pursuit of Mark Antony, after the Battle of Mutina,[3] and it was one of the places where a body of troops was usually stationed during the later ages of the empire.[4]

A bishopric was founded at Tortona early, but its first bishops are purely legendary, like Saint Marcianus of Tortona, called the first bishop of Piedmont and a disciple of Barnabas, the companion of Paul. Until the 9th century, the city was under the rule of its bishop; in 1090 it became a free commune with the name of Terdona. In 1133 the diocese was separated from the archbishopric of Milan to the new archdiocese of Genoa (CE "Lombardy").

In 1155 Frederick Barbarossa leveled Tortona to the ground, leaving not one stone upon another.[5]

During the Middle Ages, Tortona was a faithful ally of the Guelphs and was destroyed several times. From 1260 to 1347 the city was dominated by a series of different Italian noble families and adventurers like Facino Cane, who in the unsettled affairs of Lombardy had assembled a string of lordships and great wealth which he bequeathed to his wife, Beatrice, and arranged with his friends that a marriage should be effected between her and Filippo Maria Visconti. According to Machiavelli[6] "By this union Filippo became powerful, and reacquired Milan and the whole of Lombardy. By way of being grateful for these numerous favors, as princes commonly are, he accused Beatrice of adultery and caused her to be put to death".[7] In this way, in 1347, Tortona was decisively incorporated into the territories of the Duchy of Milan, under which remained until 1735. Then following the vicissitudes of the War of the Polish Succession, the city was occupied by the King of Sardinia, and "count of Tortona" was added to the titles of the House of Savoy.

Main sights[edit]

  • Roman remains, traditionally identified as the Mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Maiorianus
  • Palazzo Guidobono (15th century), rebuilt in 1939 with a Gothic façade. It has traces of Renaissance frescoes.
  • The cathedral (mid-16th century). The façade is a neoclassicist addition of the 19th century. The interior has works by Camillo Procaccini, Aurelio Luini and others. It houses also the relics of St. Martianus, patron of Tortona, and the tombs of many important religious figures, including Don Lorenzo Perosi and his brother Cardinal Carlo Perosi.
  • The Bishops' Palace (1584), with a noteworthy Renaissance portal. It has a triptych of Madonna with Child and Saints by Macrino d'Alba (1499).
  • Abbey of Santa Maria di Rivalta, in the frazione of Rivalta Scrivia. It is a Romanesque structure founded before 1151. It houses several 15th-century frescoes.
  • Church of San Matteo
  • Church of Santa Maria Canale
  • Church of Santa Giustina e Sant'Agnese


People born in Tortona, or with close links to the town, include:

Twin towns[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Population data from Istat
  2. ^ Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Dertona". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray; Vell. Pat., Historiae, i. 15; Plin., H.N., iii. 5. s. 7.
  3. ^ Cic. ad Fam. xi. 1. 0
  4. ^ Not. Dign. ii. p. 121.
  5. ^ Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium: The Decline and Fall (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996) p. 108
  6. ^ History of Florence, ch. 7
  7. ^ [1]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Dertona". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray. 


  • The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (eds. Richard Stillwell, William L. MacDonald, Marian Holland McAllister)
  • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.