Discover Northern Italy: Focus on Piedmont

Ready to explore one of the finest regions of Italy? Alright, I might be a bit partial, but I absolutely adore Piedmont and consider it one of the top destinations in Italy – as long as you’re not seeking the seaside. Besides the refreshing sea breeze, Piedmont has it all. Breathtaking mountains, picturesque hills adorned with world-renowned vineyards, numerous lakes for a refreshing swim, and of course, delectable cuisine. Still skeptical? Well, read on and discover why you should definitely include Piedmont in your travel itinerary for Italy.

The History of Piedmont

Piedmont has an ancient history, but to avoid boring you with an academic paper – let me just tell you my favorite nerdy highlight. This was the region that Hannibal crossed through when he marched his elephants over the Alps to catch Rome by surprise.

But zipping forward a few centuries we reach the period that really marks Piedmont’s history- The Savoy. The Savoy were a noble French family who little by little gained power and land, moving from earls, all the way up to kings.

The Savoy family made Turin their dukedom’s capital in 1563, though they had long been present before then. A few more generations and much more switching allegiances led the Savoys to finally be named King of Sicily, then Sardinia, and then Italy as a whole.

Through all of this, the Savoy family still loved Piedmont and spent most of their time there, setting Turin as the original capital of Italy before they were convinced to move down to Rome.

From then until now, there is certainly a lot to say, but covering it all could take pages. Piedmont played a crucial role as a center of the partisan resistance during World War II. It is also the birthplace of many of Italy’s greatest inventions, such as espresso, Nutella, and the moka pot. Additionally, Piedmont is home to some of Italy’s most important companies, including Lavazza, Olivetti, and Fiat.

And what about today? Piedmont is renowned for its exceptional food and wine, breathtaking mountains, and a thriving industry. Not to mention, Turin is famous for its two football clubs: Juventus and FC Torino.

Discover Piedmont’s Natural Beauty

One of Piedmont’s greatest attractions is its stunning landscapes. Wherever you are, you’ll catch a glimpse of the towering Alps. Throughout the region, you’ll find lush green fields, rolling hills, and glistening lakes. Piedmont is truly one of Italy’s most beautiful regions, offering a little bit of everything.

When the weather is just right, you can enjoy an afternoon exploring Piedmont’s wine regions. As the heat rolls in, take a dip in Lake Maggiore. And when it gets too hot, escape to the mountains for a breath of fresh air.

But wherever you go, you’ll have to try a sip of the region’s unforgettable wine.

Piedmontese WIne

Piedmont is a wine lover’s paradise – primarily known for its famous reds like Barolo and Barbaresco, that’s only a drop of what the region has to pour. Here, you’ll find a rich history of winemaking, dating back centuries.

Barolo and Barbaresco, found in the Langhe region, have become world famous. Both are based on Nebbiolo, with the particularities of their terroir and production process bringing out the distinct character of each.

Piedmont has 17 DOCG and 42 DOC wines, made with many different native grapes.

Red wine lovers will want to look out for wines made with Nebbiolo, Barbera, Ruche, and Dolcetto. And if you are into white wines you may prefer to look out for Arneis, Gavi, Favorita, and Erbaluce. Just to name a few.

Learn more about Piedmont’s amazing wine scene here.

Gastronomic Delights of Piedmont

With all that wine, you might want some delicious bites to pair. Lucky for you, Piedmont happens to have one of the best cuisines in the country – not to be biased or anything.

If you are one of those who believes all Italian cuisine is pizza and pasta, well then you’re in for a surprise here in Piedmont.

Piedmont’s cuisine loves its antipasti. You’ll also find many meat and anchovy dishes on the menu. Oh and well – if you didn’t already know, welcome to a true Truffle capital.

Learn more about Piedmontese cuisine here.

So where to visit in Piedmont?

It’s hard to pick just a few highlights, as there is so much to see in this region, so I’ve broken it into two categories, places you might already have heard of, and a few favorite off-the-beaten-path finds.

The Highlights

  • Torino, even if you aren’t a city person, you should still make a quick trip to Torino, you’ll be surprised just how incredible this city can be.
  • The Langhe, Piedmont’s most renowned wine region, is perfect for a day of tasting or a relaxing weekend in the countryside.
  • Lago Maggiore, visitors love to walk through the elegant town of Stresa and take a boat to the beautiful Isole Borromee
  • Monviso, the stunning point defining Piedmont’s skyline, is one of the most beautiful areas to explore the region’s mountains.

My favorite alternatives to discover Piedmont

  • Biella, well again a small city, I’ve always loved a quick walk through Biella, mainly that is, for their Canestrelli cookies that you just can’t miss!
  • Gattinara, if you’ve fallen in love with Nebbiolo, it’s time to try a new version. The Nebbiolo produced in the north of Piedmont along the Sesia is a refreshing expression. The area is quieter, still largely untouched, but the wine is fantastic.
  • Lago d’Orta, is a smaller lake, but just as beautiful, if Lago Maggiore gets busy, you may want to look to visit Orto San Giulio, an adorable historic town along Lago d’Orta.
  • Val Gesso, there are plenty of mountain valleys to explore, each one beautiful in its own way. But if I had to pick one to share, I’ve fallen in love with Val Gesso. Here you’ll find excellent hospitality, and peaks that jut out from nowhere- giving an air of the Dolomites. You’ll find hikes of all levels, so it is a very welcoming territory for beginner hikers and alpinists adventurers the same.

Want to explore more of Piedmont?

Piedmont has been my home for over 5 years now. I’ve done my best to explore the many wine regions and continue to explore new valleys for hiking. If you’d like to see Piedmont through my eyes – get in touch for custom recommendations or a tailored itinerary for your next trip.

If you found this information helpful you can show your support by buying me a glass of wine 🥂. I really appreciate it and each glass inspires me to research more into life in Italy!

And if you are looking for more help on your journey of making Italy home or looking for local insight to plan the best trip, get in touch, let me help you experience authentic Italy.