An Introduction to Piedmont, Italy
Piedmont is situated in northwest Italy and shares its borders with Switzerland and France. Although it’s Italy’s second-largest region, Piedmont is not very touristic. However, this fascinating region has so much to offer: impressive Baroque royal residences, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Medieval towns. At the same time, Piedmont has incredible natural landscapes: the Alps, scenic valleys, and lakes, which render the region a perfect gateway for those who love outdoor activities. Last but not least, Piedmont is one of Italy’s most famous wine regions, and it is also known for its truffles and chocolate-making tradition.
Must See & Do in Piedmont
Piedmont’s most popular destination is Turin, the capital city. Crossed by the Po River (the biggest river in Italy), Turin was the capital city of several kingdoms ruled by the Savoy family, and several royal residences are located in the historic center. Amongst them are the Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Madama, stunning buildings recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Turin also has fantastic museums: be sure to visit the National Museum of Cinema, housed in the iconic Mole Antonelliana building, and the Egyptian Museum. Do you need another reason to visit Turin? The city is the Italian capital of chocolate!
Right outside Turin, there is a must-see: the Basilica of Superga. This baroque church is located on top of a tall hill, and on clear days you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Turin.
Piedmont is a region of stunning natural landscapes. Unmissable is a trip to one of the numerous valleys. Nestled in the Italian Alps, Val Pellice, Val Germanasca, and Val Chisone are commonly called “Waldensian valleys”, because they served as retreats for Waldensians from France during their pilgrimages. Apart from its rich history, Val Pellice has beautiful nature with great options for outdoor sports: from skiing to hiking to kayaking and rafting in the Pellice River.
Lakes are another natural gem in Piedmont. The region houses a part of Lake Maggiore, where the stunning Borromean Islands are located. This group of islets is named after the aristocratic Borromeo family who owned it. The two most gorgeous islets are Isola Bella and Isola Madre, with stunning palaces and landscaped gardens.
Piedmont’s Alps make the region a perfect vacation spot for those looking for outdoor fun and adventures. If you like hiking, you can’t miss this unique experience of admiring the majestic Monviso mountains at its feet. Another incredible place for hiking? The Gran Paradiso National Park!
If you are planning a winter trip, then Sestriere is the place for you. Sestriere is one of the world’s first purpose-built ski areas, thus it has all the amenities and services needed for skiing.
Piedmont is also a region that values wine production. The Langhe-Roero and the Monferrato areas are part of the UNESCO World Heritage as a cultural landscape for the wine culture. But wine is not the only relevant aspect of Piedmont’s culture: gastronomy as well has central importance. The town of Bra is the birthplace of the Slow Food movement, which promotes an eco-sustainable approach to food.
Secret Gems of Piedmont
Less than 100 km from Turin, there is the marvelous Suspended Bridge of Claviere.
This bridge is located in Cesana-Clavière, and it is the longest suspension bridge in the world, at a height of 30 meters. The bridge’s spectacular surrounding landscape, the San Gervasio gorges, and the feeling of walking in the sky make it a must. The walk is safe, and all the necessary equipment will be provided on-site. Walking the bridge makes only one part of the journey: on the way back, you can choose between the Via Ferrata (climbing the rock wall) or a simpler trail.
Food & Drink of Piedmont
Piedmont is an incredible place to visit if you are a foodie and love good wine.
The famous Italian grissini (“breadsticks”) were first prepared in 1675 in Turin to cure the young Duke of Savoy from his chronic digestive problems. Another typical dish is
Agnolotti, a stuffed pasta traditionally filled with roasted meat and vegetables.
The two most popular main dishes are Brasato al Barolo, beef marinated in Barolo wine, and Vitello Tonnato, tender veal marinated in white wine and smothered in a creamy tuna, anchovy, and caper sauce.
Piedmont is also renowned for its cheeses: Castelmagno and Tomino are two of the delicious traditional cheeses that you can taste.
The last mention needs to be wine. The most acclaimed regional wines are Barolo, a full-bodied, dry red, and Asti Spumante, a sparkling and sweet white wine.