Casale Monferrato is a town in the Piedmont region in Italy, in the province of Alessandria. It is situated about 60 km east of Turin on the right bank of the Po, where the river runs at the foot of the Montferrat hills. Beyond the river lies the vast plain of the Po valley.Since it became a Roman municipium the town has been the most important center of the zone. After a spell of decline, due to the fall of the Roman Empire and the barbaric invasion, Casale became a free municipality and from the 15th century to the 16th century was the capital of the Palaiologos. Then the Gonzaga got hold of the town and built one of the biggest and most important citadel of Europe. In the 17th century and the 18th century was besieged by both the Spanish and French armies, interested in its strategical position; during Italian unification Casale has been one of the defensive bulwarks against the Austrian Empire.Today Casale, in the middle of the industrial triangle Turin-Milan-Genoa, is an important industrial center, known for the production of cement and the closed factory Eternit, that produced the homonymous material, very dangerous due to the presence of asbestos. Thousands of inhabitants of Casale have died from mesothelioma, a fatal disease caused by the breathing of asbestos.