The Premio Acqui Storia was founded in 1968, inspired by an idea of Cino Chiodo, Piero Galliano, Ercole Tasca and Marcello Venturi, to remember and honour the memory of the soldiers of the Acqui Division and their sacrifice in September 1943 on the Ionian islands of Kefalonia and Corfu, but also to create awareness that historical research is one of the cornerstones of the moral, cultural and social progress of the nation. The award is intended for historical printed works concerning the XIX, XX and XXI centuries; not only for the scientific historiography, but also for essays that, with an informative and historical narrative approach, are trying to make the issues of contemporary history more accessible to the wider non-specialist public.
The successful original peculiarity that combines specialised analysis and vocation to historical disclosure has brought, through the years, to the division two different sections: an historical- scientific and a popular. Starting from the 42nd edition a new section, of literary character was set up, dedicated to historical novels, an idea and project created by Carlo Sburlati: together with the other two sections (historical–scientific and historical–popular), it has allowed to point out the value of prose literary works that, based on a rigorous understanding of past events, stimulate the interest of the general public in history.
The Premio Acqui Storia is organized by the Department of Culture for Acqui Terme City Council, with the support of the Piedmont Region, the Province of Alessandria, Terme di Acqui, Amag Group and the Cassa di Risparmio di Alessandria Foundation, which is a key partner of this initiative.
Over the years, the Award has established itself among the most prestigious literary awards in the Italian and international cultural scene: its success and prestige are confirmed by an increasing participation of volumes (186 in 2011), not only published by major publishing houses, but also by young and innovative publishers. Since 2006, it has had the honour of being under the Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic and under the patronage of the Prime Minister, of the Senate, of the Chamber of Deputies and, for the 2011 edition, of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage. Starting from the 42° edition the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano wanted to give the event a special mention, awarding it with a presidential bronze medal, which reproduces his original signature, realized by the State Institute of Printing and Minting: the Award could therefore be qualified for the first time with the mention "with the support of the President of the Republic."
The Premio Acqui Storia is divided into three sections, of which all three refer to a jury consisting of leading figures from Italian culture (historians, journalists, literary critics). The juries in charge of the 2011 edition is as follows:
- Historical-Scientific Section: Valerio Castronovo (President), Massimo De Leonardis, Aldo A. Mola, Giuseppe Parlato, Francesco Perfetti, Gennaro Sangiuliano;
- Historical-Popular Section: Giordano Bruno Guerri (President), Elio Gioanola, Augusto Grandi, Gennaro Malgieri, Alzek Misheff, Carlo Prosperi;
- Historical Novel Section: Camilla Salvago Raggi (President), Mario Bernardi Guardi, Gianfranco De Turris, Elio Gioanola, Francesco Perfetti, Carlo Sburlati.
A Popular Jury has also been set up, which is made up of about 60 readers whose overall verdict counts as that of an Official Juror.
The Premio Acqui Storia Fund has been created at the Public Library in Acqui Terme, which collects to date, over 2500 volumes, that have participated in the past editions and represent a remarkable collection of books on contemporary history.
Over the years, the prize has become a special occasion for contacts and exchanges of ideas among the best scholars of contemporary history. "Meetings with the Author" are organized, that are included in the side events called "Waiting for the Acqui Storia" and the Market of the History Book with the participation of the Publishing houses that have competed for the prize.
The official awards ceremony takes place, traditionally, in Acqui Terme on the second-last Saturday of October. The event includes a Breakfast with the Author in the morning, giving therefore the readers and the public in general the possibility of meeting winners and finalists. After that the opening of the stands of "The Market of the History Book", the meeting of high school students with the winners and, at the end of the day, the awards ceremony at the City Theatre. The awards ceremony will take place in the presence of a large audience of young people and history lovers with the participation of the national medias.