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Albingaunum, 2,500 years of Liguria..... since it was founded on a hill near the River Centa, Albium Ingaunum, the city of the Ingauno Ligurians. It was an important Roman municipium and became capital of the Marca Arduinica and a key bishop's see in the 9th century. In the 11th century it took part in the first Crusade as a free Commune, and its fortunes took a turn for the better thereafter.
Although it was taken over by the Republic of Genoa in 1251, its culture and economy continued to thrive. The historical treasures of Albenga are kept in its prestigious museums: the International Institute for Ligurian Studies runs the Ingauno Museum (housed in the Palazzo Vecchio Comunale), where Roman and Medieval finds are on display, and the Roman Naval Museum (in Palazzo Peloso- Cepolla). Here visitors can discover artefacts recovered from the wreck of the largest Roman cargo ship ever found. It sank one mile off the coast in 180 BC along with its exceptional load of more than 10,000 jars of wine, hazelnuts and wheat. But the museum is home to more than ships: also on display is a collection of 100 chemist's vases made by the ceramicists of Albisola. The Museum of Prehistory houses interesting materials and finds from the caves in Val Pennavaira. Religious manuscripts, tapestries, frescoes and important paintings are the pride of the Diocesan Museum in the bishop's palace.
Also well worth visiting are the Museum of the Resistance, with many historical curiosities, and the permanent Olive Exhibition. Housed in a working oil-mill, the exhibition charts the history of olive and grape crops, harvests and production techniques from the 15th to the 20th century. Its illustrious history aside, Albenga has never forgotten its vocation as a seaside town and Riviera resort: the promenade winds along the beach, beyond which lies the sea – a haven for divers with its shallows and shipwrecks. The nature park at the mouth of the River Centa is the ideal spot for bird-watching, home as it is to large numbers of sea birds.
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