Tortona, the Siege AD 1155

The Siege of Tortona, AD 1155
L'Assedio di Tortona AD 1155
Next edition: to be announced (the event was last held in 2012) 
Tortona (Piemonte region)

Geographical, cultural and historical context

The event takes place in Tortona, a town located along the right bank of the river Scrivia between the plain of Marengo (the site of one of the most famous Napoleonic battles) and the foothills of the Ligurian Apennines, about 20 km from Alessandria, in Piedmont region. Tortona has a very ancient history: originally founded as an oppidum (a fortified village) by the Statielli Ligurian tribe (8th to 5th century), the town became then a Roman colony with the name of Derthona and developed as a prosperous agricultural and trade center, as well as a strategic crossroad in north-western Italy. During the Middle Ages the town freed itself from the rule of its bishop and became a free commune (a kind of medieval city-state) with the name of Terdona, and refused to submit to the authority of the German Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I Hoenstaufen, (1122-1190, called “Barbarossa”, “red beard” in Italian), who besieged and destroyed the town in 1155 AD.

And just that siege is commemorated by the great historical event which takes place every even year, in summer. Frederick I, came to Italy in year 1154 to restore the imperial control over the northern Italian towns and to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the new Pope Adrian IV. But Tortona proclaimed its indipendence. The Imperial army, reinforced by italian allied troops, moved towards the rebel city and already in a couple of days took the lower district, called “Borgo”, sited on the plain and poorly defended, while the higher district, called “Castello”, located atop a hill and protected by the ancient roman walls managed to resist for three months. The siege was terrible but at the end only the lack of water, due to a very dry spring, drove Tortona to surrender. The citizens and men at arms surrendered and were allowed to safely leave, but the town was sacked and leveled to the ground.


Event description and programme

The event takes place in the upper part of the Tortona, in the same place where once was the old fortified city, while nowadays a beautiful park hosting the historical camps with siege machines and horses, and also the reconstruction of a spectacular wood castle over 23 meters long, with 6 meters high towers and walkable battlements. The rich programme includes crafts market, the historical parade, medieval dance and music shows, performances of jugglers and flag-throwers, knights tournaments, archery and siege machines displays, historical and local traditional food and drinks tasting, and of course the great reenactment of the siege.

Please contact the Organizers for confirmation and further details.

Info & Contact

Tortona Town Council / Comune di Tortona
Address: Corso Alessandria, 62 - 15057 Tortona (Alessadria), Italy
Tel.: +39 (0)131 8641 | Fax: +39 (0)131 811411
Ufficio Turismo e Manifestazioni
Tel.: +39 (0)131 864297/290 | Fax: +39 (0)131 864267
Settore Cultura
Tel.: +39 (0)131 863470 | Fax: +39 (0)131 821595

Tortona Turismo

Compagnia Flos et Leo

Image: ViviTortona
Text sources: Tortona Town Council, Compagnia Flos et Leo, Wikipedia


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Video reportages and promos of the event:





statistiche free