Palazzo Vecchio del Comune and its tower


The meetings of the Municipality and the city parliaments in the most ancient period (XII century) were held in the Cathedral. In the following century the Municipality rented a building located in front of the church from the Chapter of the Cathedral, and finally, from the beginning of the fourteenth century, the tower with the houses of the Cepolla family that stood on the west side of the square. The complex, definitively purchased in the middle of the century, was radically transformed into a monumental building with a large loggia on the ground floor (opened in 1421) where Council meetings were held and justice was administered, and an upper floor, with the residence of the podestà and the municipal offices, opened by elegant three-mullioned windows and crowned by Ghibelline battlements, floor which is accessed by the double external staircase on the side towards the Baptistery (built in 1389). In the sixteenth century the large hall was arranged on the upper floor, easier than the loggia for Council meetings, which took place here until the early nineteenth century, while the various offices and other houses were placed in new structures leaning around and above the Baptistery. The constitution after 1815 of the Province of Albenga led to the use of the building also as a prefecture. The Municipality therefore decided to move its headquarters to a building overlooking Piazza San Michele, where it is still located today. A first restoration project of the Palazzo Vecchio del Comune was that of Alfredo D'Andrade in the early 1900s, until the union of the territory of Albenga with that of Savona in the Province of Savona (1927) left the vast building without destination; the definitive restoration and arrangement of the Ingauno Civic Museum took place after World War II: on the ground floor of the tower, the Sala dei Consoli preserves important epigraphic testimonies both from the municipium of Albingaunum and from the early Middle Ages; in the loggia the back wall bears the fresco with the Crucifixion by Giovanni Canavesio, a warning of justice and righteousness for the city rulers; a beautiful Roman puteale in marble, a sarcophagus and other late antique pieces and the official measurements of capacity and length of the Municipality have found a place there.

The tower, formerly belonging to the Cepolla family, then Communal, is considered one of the most recent in the city, due to its very low base in large stones, which dominates the brick facing; the top floor, where four large single-lancet windows open, houses the large bell of the municipality, “il Campanone”, which called to gather the men of the vast territory and still rings today on the morning of the municipal council and on great anniversaries; the mullioned windows were opened on the façade towards Piazza San Michele in the 14th-15th centuries and the clock was placed, which has marked the hours of city life since the Middle Ages.