Chieri (Italian: [ˈkjɛːri]; Piedmontese: Cher) is a town and comune in the Metropolitan City of Turin, Piedmont (Italy), located about 11 kilometres (7 miles) southeast of Turin, 15 km (9 mi) by rail and 13 km (8 mi) by road. It borders the following municipalities: Baldissero Torinese, Pavarolo, Montaldo Torinese, Pino Torinese, Arignano, Andezeno, Pecetto Torinese, Riva presso Chieri, Cambiano, Santena, Poirino.
|Comune di Chieri|
Panorama of Chieri
Coat of arms
Location of Chieri in Italy
|Coordinates: 45°1′N 7°49′E|
|Metropolitan city||Turin (TO)|
|Frazioni||Pessione, Madonna della Scala|
|• Mayor||Claudio Martano|
|• Total||54.3 km2 (21.0 sq mi)|
|Elevation||305 m (1,001 ft)|
|• Density||680/km2 (1,800/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Patron saint||Santa Maria delle Grazie|
|Saint day||September 12|
Between the Neolithic and the Iron Age, the original inhabitants of this part of the Italian peninsula were the Ligures. The Ligures living in this area of the Po river plain belonged specifically to the Taurini tribe.
The location of Chieri is within the Taurini tribe's territory, in the belt of hills which surround Turin. The original settlement was most likely founded by them, being sited on a prominent hill (on which the church of San Giorgio currently stands) and which grew to be the geographical focus of the city centre. Its original name would have been Karreum or a variant thereof e.g. Karreo/Karrea/Carrea: this is based on the root kar, which possibly means "stone", reflecting the typical Ligurian settlement layout of a stone edifice at the centre of a grouping of other habitations within a village, which would have likely been the original layout of Chieri.
Sometime around 400 BCE, Celtic tribes crossed the Alps from Gaul and settled the Po river plain. These peoples mingled with the original Ligures, either through conquest or peaceful cohabitation, and gave rise to a Celto-Ligurian people, inhabiting the region which the Romans would call Cisalpine Gaul, i.e. "Gaul this side of the Alps".
The Romans, over the two centuries between 400-200 BCE, conducted a prolonged counter-offensive to conquer all of the northern Italian peninsula, partially in response to successive invasions, starting with Gauls led by king Brennus in 391 BCE, and later the Carthaginians under the great general Hannibal Barca in 218 BCE.
It is likely sometime after 176 BCE that Cisalpine Gaul was completely subdued by Roman legions, and this would have included the village of Karreum itself. This was possibly under the command of Roman consul Caius Claudius Pulcrus, leading a military response to a rebellion the year before by the Ligures.
Following this Roman conquest in the 2nd Century BCE, the village became known as the Roman settlement of Carreum Potentia: the Latin name Potentia (derived from potens, "powerful") being added as a cognomen to the original Ligurian name.
It is likely that, following similar examples elsewhere, at Carreum Potentia the Roman settlement was built alongside the pre-Roman one, the Roman part built on lower ground in the plain, alongside the Rio Tepice stream and at the base of the original native hill-top settlement. It would appear the Forum and the main Temple (most likely dedicated to the goddess Minerva) were located in the area where the Cathedral and the piazza around it currently stand, with a wall around it (traces of which were excavated in the 1960s).
Roman historian Pliny the Elder referenced "Carreum quod Potentia cognominatur", in his Naturalis Historia (dated 50-60 AD), naming it within a list of fortified settlements which then abounded in the section of Cisalpine Gaul between the River Po and the Ligurian Apennines: the city was portrayed as a prosperous Roman walled city, surrounded by cultivated farmlands and scattered agricultural settlements. By the 1st Century AD, Carreum Potentia was indeed referred to as a Roman municipium, i.e. a seat of local government for the surrounding area.
The city underwent conversion to Christianity sometime in the 5th century, as recorded on a funeral slab dated from June 488 AD for a little girl called Genesia who died at the age of two.
Early Middle Ages
No further historical records exist regarding Chieri until the 10th century, when it came under feudal subjection to the Bishop of Turin. During the first half of the 11th century the city had an encircling defensive wall erected around the San Giorgio Hill (known as the Castrum Sancti Georgi, which still constitutes the city nucleus), under the direction of Bishop Landulf: these long-demolished Mura Landolfiane still clearly trace the outline of the pattern of narrow streets around the hill (known as the Chiocciola, "snail"). The work included a strengthening of the fortifications and tower atop the hill, now incorporated into the Church of San Giorgio which occupies the hilltop and overlooks the city.
Outside the walls, on the plains surrounding the city, a church was erected dedicated to the Virgin Mary: this site was likely that of an earlier and more primitive Church dating from the 4th century, which had itself replaced the earlier Roman Temple to Minerva.
This period also experienced the construction of numerous quadrilateral towers, inside the perimeter of the walls, by the powerful families of the city, hence it became known as Città delle Cento Torri ("city of one hundred towers"): a handful of these Towers still survive to this day.
During the 12th century the city allied itself with the more powerful city of Asti in fighting against the marquis William V of Montferrat, himself allied to Emperor Frederick Barbarossa: in revenge for this rebel alliance, Barbarossa besieged the city and in January 1155 conquered it, decimating its towers and fortifications, as well as massacring a significant portion of the population.
Popular legend has it that its present-day name was given by Barbarossa who, upon departing the city after ransacking it, looked back upon its ruins and asked Ma tu, chi eri? (Italian for "And you, who were you?") - although this story is most likely apocryphal.
Over the remainder of the 12th century, the city gradually gained independence from the rule and authority of the Bishop of Turin, and this resulted in the emergence of the free Republic of Chieri, which grew to have its own autonomous judicial and administrative institutions, similar to the numerous other Italian free communes which existed in Italy during this period.
Late Middle Ages
In the course of the 13th century, the Republic of Chieri experienced a period of substantial prosperity, and at that time was comparable in splendor and importance to other Italian city-states such as Genoa, Asti and Pisa.
In 1238 the Republic was granted the status of camera speciale (Italian: "special chamber") by Emperor Frederick II, which meant that the only authority the Republic would be subject to was that of the (very remote) emperor.
Following growing violent internecine struggles between city factions to the end of that century, the Republic of Chieri, despite asserting its dominion over adjacent lands and castles and constructing a secondary ring of city walls, decreased in power and autonomy to the point that in 1339 the city made itself subject to Robert of Anjou, King of Naples: in doing so, it granted half of its lands and territories as feudal possession to Prince Iacopo of the house of Savoy-Acaia. The city eventually passed in its entirety to the House of Savoy, when the line of Acaia died out.
The 15th century brought Chieri a period of economic prosperity and a flourishing of the arts with, among other endeavours, the rebuilding of the Church of Santa Maria into its present form as the Duomo. During this time the hill-top church of San Giorgio was also rebuilt into its current incarnation, and several works of Flemish art were brought into the area by rich city merchants.
The 16th century covered a period of succeeding plagues, epidemics, and wars, and (from 1551 to 1562) also brought French domination. During this period some of its citizens became followers of the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther, but this was quashed by strong opposition from Duke Emmanuel Philibert: it was in order to honour him, along with Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy, that the city towards the end of this century constructed a triumphal arch, still present on the main street (currently Via Vittorio Emanuele II).
The year 1630 saw a terrible outbreak of the Bubonic Plague, which is still commemorated every 12 September with the ceremony of the Madonna delle Grazie. Despite this, the remainder of the 17th century also covered a flourishing of artistic achievement, with the building of several churches and chapels in Baroque style, as well as numerous paintings and sculptures.
In 1785 Chieri became a Principality under the control of the duke of Aosta. The late 18th century again brought French domination, this time under the conquests of Napoleon Bonaparte; but this period also witnessed the establishment of a major textile mill, which consolidated and built upon the city's base as a medieval centre for Textile trade and manufacture.
Numerous other textile factories followed in the late 19th century, with textile manufacture originating from Chieri playing a prominent role even in international textile fairs. The year 1850 saw the demolition of the old medieval city gates and the privatisation of the city walls, which at that time still demarcated the limits of the entire city.
In 1871 a railroad link was constructed to the city, partly due to contributions from the municipality and from wealthy citizens, in the form of the Chieri-Trofarello branch line: this was to serve the now very significant Textile industry of the city, with the building of the railway station also serving to initiate in the surrounding area the erection of the first city quarter built outside its walls.
The early 20th century brought the electrification of the textile industries (1909). World War II caused no direct bombardments to the city despite the relocation, from the nearby major industrial centre of Turin, of numerous factories and heavy industry manufacture; German occupation of the city following the Armistice of Italy in 1943, until its liberation by Allied forces.
The post-war period experienced a huge increase in Chieri's population, as massive migration occurred between the 1950s and 1970s from the Veneto region and from Southern Italy, to the major industrial centres of Northern Italy such as Milan and Turin and adjacent areas: this resulted in a population boom from approximately 14,000 immediately after the war, to 30,000 inhabitants in just under three decades.
The later years of the 20th century also witnessed the decline of textile industry in the city, as numerous factories were forced to close from competitive pressure from the cheaper manufacturing centres of the Indian subcontinent and the Far East. This is being counteracted by the establishment of a new industrial area outside the city, and also by a rediscovering and redeveloping of Chieri's significant cultural and historical heritage.
Today Chieri is a growing center for the provision of a varied portfolio of commercial, retail, financial, and tertiary services.
- Chieri Cathedral: Gothic-style Duomo (cathedral), founded in 1037 and reconstructed in 1405, is the largest in Piedmont, and has a 13th-century octagonal Baptistery which includes a collection of 13th century frescoes. Its glass stained windows are the work of renowned glass artist Silvio Vigliaturo.
- San Giorgio: hill-top church dominating the historical centre and offering commanding views of the entire city.
- San Filippo: church on the principal Via Vittorio Emanuele, boasting an example of Italian Baroque-style face-brick façade.
- The Arco (Triumphal Arch), dedicated to Charles Emmanuel I and Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy.
- Santi Bernardino e Rocco
- Sanctuary of the Santissima Annunziata
- Collegiata di Santa Maria della Scala
- Giuseppe Avezzana (1797–1879), Italian general and politician who previously fought under Napoleon in 1813–14
- Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo (1786–1842), Catholic priest and saint, died in Chieri
- David Levi (1816–98), Italian poet and patriot
- Giovanni Perrone (1794–1876), theologian
- Roberto Rosato (1943–2010), football player
At 08:30am on Tuesday 15 October 2002, Chieri experienced one of Italy's worst civilian massacres outside of wartime when unemployed craftsman Mauro Antonello (40), a gun enthusiast with a history of mental illness, went on a shooting rampage in Via Parini street, within the Borgo Venezia quarter on the outskirts of the city.
Using four weapons (including three semi-automatic), the perpetrator killed seven people, starting with his ex-wife Carla Bergamin, at whose house the tragedy occurred. His other victims included her widowed mother Teresa Gobbo; Carla's brother Sergio Bargamin and his wife Margherita Feyles, who operated a textile workshop on the ground floor of their house; next-door neighbour Decio Guerra along with his wife; and Pierangela Gramaglia, a friend of Margherita's who also worked for them at their workshop.
Chieri is twinned with:
- "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- http://www.repubblica.it/online/cronaca/chieri/chieri/chieri.html La Repubblica.it, "Fa strage e si uccide otto morti nel torinese" (in Italian). 15 October 2002