Piedmont – At the Foot of the Alps
Piedmont is a cultural and natural paradise in the north of Italy. The breathtaking peaks of the Alps, Lake Maggiore, the vast Po Plain and the scenic vineyards delight every lover of nature. Art and culture enthusiasts will fall in love with the region's numerous castles and monasteries.
Geography - The second biggest Italian region
Piedmont (Italian: Piemonte, "at the foot of the mountains") is a region in the north of Italy, at the border to France and Switzerland. In addition, Piedmont is adjacent to Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and the Aosta Valley. Although the latter is administratively autonomous, it forms a whole with Piedmont regarding both history and geography. With an area of 25,399 km², the region is the second largest one in the country. Its territory can be divided into three geographical areas: the Po Plain with the urban centres of Turin, Novara, Alessandria, Asti and Cuneo, the hilly landscape with its wine-growing regions and the Alpine region with its valleys, Lake Maggiore and the country's highest mountain, the Monte Rosa (4,618 m). There is temperate mountain climate in the higher areas with down to minus 5 °C in winter and about 23 °C in summer. In the plane areas, however, it can be up to 30 °C in summer.
Nature - The beautiful peaks of the Alps at Lake Maggiore
Piedmont's landscape is characterised by the mountains of the Alps, the Po Plain and the hilly areas. The hilly landscape in the region's south-east is mainly known for its wines Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco. The agricultural region is covered in vines and wine-growing regions and lies at heights between 150 and 750 metres. Po River has its source in Piedmont and is one of the country's longest rivers. The Po Plain is characterised by flat, vast plains, bodies of water and rice fields. The mountain range of the Alps in the region's north and west is dominated by the mighty Monte Rosa, the scenic Susa Valley, the Lanzo Valleys and the Orco Valley as well as the magnificent Lake Maggiore. It takes up an area of 212.5 km² and is Italy's second largest lake with a length of 66 kilometres and a width of 10 kilometres. Other natural highlights in Piedmont's Alps are Lake Orta, the limestone caves Grotta di Bossea, the natural parks Lagoni Mercurago and Orsiera-Rocciavré as well as the Grand Paradiso National Park.
Culture - An abundance of castles and monasteries
Piedmont accommodates countless impressive sights and numerous art and cultural treasures. The many castles and abbeys in the region capture the visitors. The capital of Turin is characterised by baroque buildings like the Palazzo Reale, the Palazzo Madama and the church San Lorenzo. Stupinigi fascinates with its castle Palazzina di Caccia ("hunting residence"), which is a World Cultural Heritage site. Other impressive residences of the House of Savoy in Piedmont are the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale, the Castle of Valentino and the Castle of Rivoli. The so-called Sacri Monti ("holy mountains") are also part of the Cultural Heritage of the UNESCO. Their pilgrimage churches accommodate a number of cultural assets. Furthermore, the Gothic Staffarda Abbey, the Castello della Manta and the Borromean island Isola Bella with its famous baroque island palace and its magical garden are truly beautiful attractions. The Benedictine monastery San Giulio is located on the island of the same name on Lake Orta.
Experience - High-quality cheese and truffle markets
Piedmont's cuisine is really special and is more similar to the French than to the Italian cuisine. Local delicacies are cheese, sausage, wine and truffle. No other Italian region has such a great number of high-quality types of cheese. One of them is the small, flat, round Murazzano cheese, which is made from cow's or sheep's milk and has the status PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). A local type of sausage is the mortadella di fegato, which is seasoned with wine. Wine is generally an important agricultural product in this region because several of the country's best wine-growing regions are located in Piedmont. Internationally known wines such as Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera are produced in Piedmont and are a must for every visitor. However, the true "diamond" of the region is the truffle. It is an ingredient of many dishes and cannot only be bought in specialist shops but also on the truffle markets in Alba and Asti. Alba also hosts the truffle festival Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco d'Alba, which takes place every year. Asti is the location of the medieval horse race Palio and popular events in Turin are the book fair and the chocolate festival Cioccolatò.
Activities - A paradise for outdoor activities
Due to its varied landscape, Piedmont offers excellent conditions for a number of outdoor activities. The mountains of the Alps and the hiking trails Via Alpina and Grande Traversata delle Alpi make hikers' hearts leap for joy but mountaineers, climbers, canyoning and rafting fans as well as mountain bikers also get their money's worth in Piedmont. Cyclists can pursue their hobby in the vast plains of the Po River and Lake Maggiore is a great location for doing water sports (sailing, wind surfing, canoeing, bathing, swimming). Travellers can relax and unwind in many spa resorts such as Acqui Terme and Vinadio or be active in the skiing areas. The region's most important winter sports centres are Limone Piemonte, Sestriere, Sansicario and Bardonecchia.
Piedmont can easily be reached by train, bus, car or plane. The international airport Aeroporto Internazionale di Torino is about 30 kilometres away from Turin. Milan's airport is also a suitable starting point for a trip to Piedmont.
A trip to Piedmont is like travelling to Switzerland, France and Italy at the same time. The impressive heights of the Alps, the delicious and exquisite cuisine as well as the Mediterranean atmosphere make this region in the north of Italy so special and popular with both lovers of culture and leisure athletes.