Pinerolo in Piedmont, Italy

The city of Pinerolo is located near the border of France and Italy in the province of Turin (Piedmont). During the 2019 Giro d’Italia, this city will be part of two different stages. Legend also has it that the man in the iron mask was imprisoned in Penerolo. Various winter sports were also held in and around Pinerolo during the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin.

Table of contents

  • History of Pinerolo
  • The town of Pinerolo
  • Sport
  • The man in the iron mask (man in the iron mask)


History of Pinerolo

It is known that the town of Pinerolo existed from the year 981. Only then it was under the name Pinarolium. In the centuries that followed, Pinerolo was in the hands of the French several times. The city was in French hands for the first time from 1536 to 1574. Then again from 1631 to 1696 and lastly from 1801 to 1814. Due to these occupations of France, this city is also called the most French city in Italy. In 2006 the city was used for the Turin Olympic Games and in several years Pinerolo has been both the start and finish location in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France cycling races.

The town of Pinerolo

At the end of the Chisone valley lies the town of Pinerolo against the hill of San Maurisio. As the city grew, the buildings also reached the hill, giving the city a rolling design over time. Due to the city’s long history, there are also many different buildings from different eras. The three kilometer long city center consists of old houses with arcades to walk under.

Cathedral San Donato (Cattedrale di San Donato)

This Cathedral is dedicated to Donatus of Arezzo. The first information about this cathedral dates back to the eleventh century AD. Just outside the city walls, the Borgo Piano de Pinerolo became the city’s permanent market district. This district was also used for traveling markets between Pinerolo and Turin. This also applied to markets traveling between the Piedmont region and Savoia. The church was extensively expanded for the first time in 1442. The largest expansions and changes were made to the church between 1495 and 1507. The then new church was consecrated for the first time in 1507. The inside still had to be finished afterwards. The inside was not finished until 1568. The chapels on the side of the church were finished in 1584. However, in 1766 most of the work on the chancel and rectory was done. After the severe earthquake of 1808, many parts of the church had to be restored. Between 1887 and 1911, images from both the Old and New Testaments were placed inside the church.

Museo dell’Arma di Cavalleria

From 1849 to 1943 Pinerolo had a cavalry school. Here the cavalry was trained for the Italian army. In 2016, 300 years of military history can be viewed in the museum. The exhibition starts from the year 1500 and shows history up to and including the Second World War. Here you can also admire weapons, armor and flags from this time period.

Church San Maurizio

On the hill of San Maurizio is the church of San Maurisio, built in late Gothic style. This church is the symbol of the city of Pinerolo. The first writings about this church date from 1078. The church itself was only fully expanded in the year 1470. The tower of the church dates from the fourteenth century, this tower is called the Prince of Acaja


Pinerolo was worn or used in many different events. Pinerolo has been the start and finish location in two different major cycling races and during the 2006 Turin Winter Games the city was used as a base for many snow sports.
Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons (PD) Giro d’Italia
Since the creation of the Giro d’Italia (Cycling Tour of Italy), riders have used the city as a start or finish location eight times. The first time this happened was in 1949. In that year, Pinerolo was the finishing place in the 17th stage and the starting place in the 18th stage. Below are the years in which the Giro was in Pinerolo and the winners of those stages;

  • 1949 Finishing point for 17th stage Giro d’Italia: Fausto Coppi
  • 1949 Starting place for 18th stage Giro d’Italia: Antonio Bevilacqua
  • 1964 Finishing place for 20th stage Giro d’Italia: Franco Bitossi
  • 1982 Finish place for 22nd stage Giro d’Italia: Giuseppe Saronni
  • 1993 Starting place for 19th stage Giro d’Italia: Miguel-Maria Indurain Larraya
  • 2007 Finish place for 11th stage Giro d’Italia: Alessandro Petacchi
  • 2009 Finish place for 10th stage Giro d’Italia: Danilo Di Luca
  • 2016 Finish place for 18th stage Giro d’Italia: Matteo Trentin
  • 2016 Starting place for 19th stage in Giro d’Italia: Vincenzo Nibali
  • 2019 Finish place for 12th stage in Giro d’Italia: Cesare Benedetti
  • 2019 Starting place for 13th stage in Giro d’Italia: Ilnur Zakarin


Tour de France

Not only the Giro d’Italia has been to Pinerolo with its cyclists. The Tour de France also passed here. In 2011, the 17th stage ended with a win for Edvald Boason Hagen in Pinerolo. The day later, the 18th stage started in Pinerolo with the eventual winner of that stage, Andy Schleck.

2006 Olympic Games

In 2006, Turin was allowed to host the Winter Olympics. Not all parts could take place in Turin itself, so we had to move to other locations. One of those locations was the Palazzo Plifuncionale del Ghiaccio in Pinerolo. All curling competitions of these Olympic Games would be held here.

Palazzo Plifuncionale del Ghiaccio

This large ice stadium does not only host curling competitions, although this was the case during the 2006 Winter Games. The stadium can accommodate 2982 visitors. The other sports for which this stadium was built are;

  • Ice hockey
  • Short track
  • Figure skating


The man in the iron mask (man in the iron mask)

In 2010, the 12th edition of the reenactment of the man in the iron mask was held in Pinerolo. Every year this spectacle is played in the center of the city. Between 1669 and 1681, a Frenchman was imprisoned in Fort Fenestrelle, near Pinerolo, who, according to legend, wore a cloth over his face. Legend has it that D’artagnan, one of the musketeers from Alexandre Dumar pére’s Three Musketeers, brought this prisoner to the fort. The prisoner in question was Eustache Dauger, but it is suspected that the prisoner was a lot more important than this man. This is because otherwise he would have been beheaded instead of held captive. The French writer Voltaire claimed that the prisoner wore an iron mask under the cloth and was the older half-brother of Louis XIV. In Pinerolo this story and the important prisoner are seen as truth and are therefore preserved.

The book

Alexandre Dumas pére wrote the books about the three musketeers in the 19th century. One of those main characters was the musketeer D’artagnan. The other three musketeers in question are Athos, Porthos and Aramis. In total, Dumas wrote eight volumes about these musketeers, the last of which was entitled, The Man in the Iron Mask”. He chose to call the prisoner

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