Alto’s name seems to derive from its position overlooking the Pennavaire Valley.
Its dominant position was fundamental to the decision of the Marquis of Savona to build a fortification with anti-Saracen sighting purposes between the 10th and 11th centuries. Its construction was then taken over in 1320 by the Counts Cepollini. It was around this fortification that a population of shepherds gradually came to gather. Such fortifications were then given to the Cepollini counts in the XIV sec.
Around 9000 to 8000 B.C. the last glaciation pushed the people who inhabited the area to the south and
they were given the name Ligurians. Prehistoric peoples left us with artifacts from the epipaleolithic period which were found in the caves Arma du Stefanin and Arma di Nasino, while the remains found in the cave “Camere” belong to the Mesolithic period. Remains dating to the Neolithic and Eneolithic periods were then found in many other sites. Today most of them are preserved at the Prehistoric Museum in Albenga.
However, the historical thread of events based on written records, can only be traced starting from the 11th century, when Alto was part of the possessions of Bonifacio del Vasto and then merged with the Marquises of Clavesana (former lords of Albenga) who assigned it as a fief to the Counts Cepollini on July 25, 1320.
In 1736, following the Treaty of Vienna, the fief passed to the Savoy family, becoming from that time part of Piemonte. During the partisan war it was the stage of many important episodes, including the battle in which Felice Cascione, doctor, partisan leader and author of the famous partisan song “Fischia il vento”, found his death.
The central square, where both the Parish Church of St. Michele Arcangelo and the ancient, now deconsecrated parish church stand, is towered on its right side by the impressive Cepollini Castle. Of particular artistic interest is the Chapel of St. Sebastian, near the cemetery, which contains 15th-century frescoes.
Just three kilometers from the town rises in a splendid natural setting the Sanctuary of Madonna del Lago
beside a lovely small lake, where the Processione dei Cristi, one of the area’s most scenic and ancient religious rituals, takes place in the first week of July.