Municipality of Piedmont

Stage town for the second time.

Population: 36,000 (Pinerolese)

Specialities: Torta Zurich (cake), panettone bas Pinerolese glazed with hazelnut, Tomino di Talucco and Seirass (cheeses), mustardela (cold meats), bagna caoda (garlic and anchovy sauce), bollito misto à la piémontaise (meats), génépi, Pinerolese wine.

Personalities: the man in the iron mask, Nicolas Fouquet (prisoners of the citadel of Pignerol). Luigi Facta and Ferruccio Parri (former presidents of the council). 

Sport: curling at the Turin Olympics. Note: Uruguayan club Penarol takes its name from Pinerolo.

Culture and festivals: Cavalry Museum, Notte delle Muse, Notti dei Dehors, Cinema in Piazza,

Isola dei Bambini.

Economy: the textile, mechanical, paper and chemical industries absorb the majority of the workforce in Pinerolo and the surrounding area. The region's leading companies include Corcos, which produces seals, Raspini (charcuterie), Euroball (ball bearings), the Tombini group (chipboard), PMT Italia, which supplies the paper industry with paper machines. But also Galup and its famous Panettone and Streglio for its chocolate.

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The Man in the Iron Mask

The story of the man in the iron mask remains one of the great mysteries of French history, but one thing is certain: the famous prisoner began his imprisonment in Pinerolo, known as Pignerol during the French occupation. The presence of a masked prisoner was first mentioned in 1669, when the Marquis de Louvois, Louis XIV's minister, wrote to Bénigne Dauvergne de St Mars, governor of the prison, asking him to put the prisoner in an armoured prison to keep him away from the other prisoners. The governor was instructed to visit him only once a day. Arrested in Calais, the prisoner, named Dauger, arrived in Pinerolo in August 1669. The first rumours circulated about this man, who wore a mask at all times, as if to hide his identity. In any case, Pinerolo was a prison reserved for criminals considered a threat to the kingdom. At Pinerolo, along with Dauger, were an Italian diplomat named Antonio Mattioli, the Marquis de Lauzun, lover of Madame de Montpensier, and the disgraced Superintendent of Finances Nicolas Fouquet. Fouquet was in contact with Dauger, who acted as his valet when his own servant was ill. No one knows whether he recognised him. Fouquet died in custody in Pinerolo in 1680. Dauger followed Governor Saint-Mars on his various postings to Île Sainte-Marguerite, Lérins and the Bastille, where he died in 1703 under the name Marchioly. No one has ever solved the mystery, although some have claimed that he was a twin brother of the king. Every year, Pinerolo honours its most famous host with the Maschera di Ferro, a historical show in which a celebrity plays the role of Dauger


Pinerolo has already been visited by the Tour de France in 2011, when this border town hosted the finish of a stage from Gap, the town with which it is twinned. Norwegian Edvald Boasson-Hagen clinched one of his three stage victories in the Tour. The town has also hosted the Giro on eight occasions, most recently in 2019 (victory by Cesare Benedetti). It was in 1949 that the town witnessed its greatest cycling exploit, a long-distance breakaway by Fausto Coppi that gave him his second victory in the Giro d'Italia and the first Tour-Giro double that same year. With five passes, it was the queen stage of the edition and a route from Cuneo that Gino Bartali approached with caution, suffering from stomach pains since the start. "The Maddalena Pass would have been enough to exhaust a bull. And that was just the beginning," wrote novelist Dino Buzzati, special correspondent for Corriere della Serra. That day, Fausto Coppi dealt his elder a fatal blow: "Today, Bartali understood that he had reached his peak. And for the first time, he smiled.” For the winner of the 1938 and 1948 Tour de France, it was indeed almost funny, as bad luck struck on several occasions. "Coppi took off when I had a puncture. I was just about to catch him when I punctured again. I was still second, five minutes behind. But the worst thing was when a spectator threw a bunch of flowers at me and it got tangled up in the derailleur. I could barely change gear. But I never gave up," said Bartali. In 2022, Frenchman Romain Grégoire won a stage of the Baby Giro here. Pinerolo hosted the curling events at the 2006 Winter Olympics.  


  • Fortress of Pinerolo

Pignerol/Pinerolo owes its fame above all to the fortress, now demolished, in which Fouquet, Lauzun and the “man in the iron mask” were locked up under Louis XIV. They were placed under the guard of Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars. Louis XIV forced its destruction under the terms of the Treaty of Turin in 1696. The site is part of the network of major Vauban sites, but no trace of it remains visible today.

  • Cavalry Museum

Opening: 1968.

Features: located on the premises of the Riding School, the museum houses weapons, uniforms, harnesses and standards of the Italian and foreign horse guards from 1500 to the 20th century. It is one of the largest museums in the world dedicated to military riding.   

  • Basilica of San Maurizio

Construction: from the 11th century, then 1470 and 1897.

Style: Romanesque and late Romanesque.

History and features: the Basilica of San Maurizio in Pinerolo, mentioned in documents dating back to 1078, was rebuilt in 1470 and restored in 1897: it has a late Romanesque bell tower dating back to 1336 and preserves 15th-century frescoes, an Ascension of Jesus Christ, the most committed work by Ticino painter Giuseppe Antonio Petrini de Carona dating from just before 1743, and a Nativity of the Virgin by Beaumont. The future Pope Pius XI, still a child, prayed in the church, which was not yet a basilica. On June 27, 2002, it was elevated to the dignity of minor basilica. The Romanesque bell tower dates back to 1336 and is over 40 metres high. It is the symbol of Pinerolo and houses four bells.  

  • Cathedral of San Donato

Construction: 10th to 15th centuries.

Style: Gothic.

History: San Donato's cathedral stands on the site of an earlier church, built in the 10th century by Olderico Manfredi II, Marquis of Turin and Susa. It is first mentioned in a document dated 1044. From the end of the 14th century, the church was completely rebuilt and, as part of this work, in 1425 the bell tower was built, which was never completed and served as a watchtower in the Middle Ages. The new church was completed in 1508. In 1748, Pope Benedict XIV erected the diocese of Pinerolo and the church of San Donato was elevated to the rank of cathedral. Between 1766 and 1778, the cathedral was restored in Baroque style, including the high altar and the interior floors. The cathedral underwent further restoration work in the 19th century.


  • Vitello tonnato

Vitello tonnato (or vitel' tonné) is a typical Piedmontese dish, served fresh, made from slices of veal, covered with a sauce of tuna, egg yolks, anchovies, capers, olive oil and lemon juice. It is often eaten on summer terraces.

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