Savigliano is one of the main towns on the Cuneo
plain. It has a population of about 20,000. The main artistic
testimonials of its historical centre and the surrounding territory
are the consequence of a past rich in history: initially inhabited
by Celtic-Ligurian peoples, then conquered by the Romans whose rule
has left, in addition to the archaeological finds and epigraphs, a
trace of the place-name "Salvianum" from which the name Savigliano
originates. Quoted as "villa saviliani" in an imperial placet dated
981, it later became a Free Commune, and adopted as its civic coat
of arms the red cross on a silver background and the motto "Fidelis
Deo et hominibus". Thanks to its geographic position it was
particularly exposed to conflicts with the Marquisate of Saluzzo.
From 1349 it followed the alternating vicissitudes of the House of
Savoy, with long periods of French rule. An important military
stronghold, towards the end of the 16th century and during the
century that followed, it underwent a period of authentic
territorial supremacy, which corresponded with the flourishing of
the arts, documented particularly by the painting of the
"Savigliano school", which took hold throughout the province. The
local nobility, having risen to authoritative positions at Court,
rebuilt buildings in town and mansions in the country in late
mannerist or baroque style, while monasteries and convents competed
to modernise churches and cloisters.
With the demolition of the fortified walls around the town - at the beginning of the eighteenth century - Savigliano lost its role as military strong holding and also the position of prestige that it had occupied among the towns of Piedmont.
A hundred years later, the town forged itself a new role as a centre of textile and mechanical productions of importance, for which the arrival of the railway (1853) offered new possibilities of traffic and connections. The first plants for the production of rolling stock were transformed in 1880 into the Società Nazionale delle Officine di Savigliano (SNOS), a company famous throughout Europe, subsequently purchased by FIAT Ferroviaria and, recently, by the French multinational ALSTOM. As regards the illustrious personalities born in the town, Savigliano is particularly proud of Santorre di Santa Rosa, hero of the revolutionary uprisings movements in 1821, and of Giovanni Schiaparelli, one of Italy's most important astronomy experts.