At some point in our lives, we all feel that inexplicable desire to visit Italy! We read blogs, we ask friends for advice, we get in contact with travel agencies and – once we have sorted everything out – we are ready to fly to Italy on our next vacation. There are two different types of tourist corresponding to two opposite ways to perceive a trip to Italy:
– The traditional: He/She visits Rome and the Colosseum, takes pictures while trying to straighten the Leaning Tower, and boards a Gondola in the enchanting Venice.
– The alternative: He/She heads towards hidden gems like a typical town in Apulia, a medieval village in Umbria or a mountain landscape of the Alps.
These two options are equally unique and thrilling and both allow you to embrace the deep soul of such a miscellaneous country. However, there is a perfect way to reach a marvelous compromise: what you have to do is to visit a catchall region, a place where you can experience all the good things people say about Italy. This region is Piedmont, a place that has had little tourist promotion through years despite the big role it has played in the Italian history and culture!
We choose to visit Italy because of its ancient history, amazing food, breathtaking views and many more. Well, Piedmont contains them all – and there are numbers, figures and evidence supporting this statement. Let me explain why we should all try visiting this region once in our life.
Few people know that the history of Italy as a modern state began in Piedmont. The process of unification of the different kingdoms and little states throughout the Italian peninsula started in this region. When the Kingdom of Italy was established in 1861, the first capital was Turin. We all go to Italy to relive the Glorious Roman Empire or the Renaissance, but if we want to truly understand the modern soul of this amazing country, we strongly recommend paying a visit to Piedmont.
Italian monuments are probably the most visited in the world – everybody dreams of taking a picture of the Colosseum, Pompeii or the Uffizi Gallery. A detailed Select Italy infographic showing the 20 most visited tourist attractions in Italy reveals that Piedmont is an Italian top destination. La Venaria Reale (7th place) and The Egyptian Museum (8th place), both in Turin, rank surprisingly above world renowned monuments such as Last Supper (11th) or Villa d’Este (12th).
3) Breathtaking views
Italian landscapes are simply breathtaking! When visiting Piedmont you will find yourself in a region that sums up all different kinds.
Mountains: Piedmont is surrounded on three sides by the Alps. Monte Rosa (the second highest Italian mountain) and the other spectacular mountains in the region create incredibly beautiful landscapes that can be admired from the large number of exquisite resorts.
Hills: The hilly landscapes of the Langhe and Monferrato are unlike any you’ve ever seen: waves of gently rolling hills covered in vines and dotted with small towns and castles.
Valley: True to the meaning of its name (foot of the mountain), Piedmont is also a land of valleys. Amongst all, we strongly recommend to visit the valleys between Novara and Vercelli, where expanses of water and rice paddies, long rows of poplars, and old farmhouses make up a timeless scenery.
Lake: Laying between Piedmont and Lombardy, Lake Maggiore is the most visited lake in Italy. On its Piedmontese side, you cannot miss a visit to the Borromean Islands, probably the most enchanting archipelago of the world with its ancient villas surrounded by beautiful lawns and gardens. An equally enchanting lake worth a visit in the region is Lago d’Orta, an authentic hidden treasure!
Seaside: Piedmont has no coastline, though the southern reaches are just a few kilometers away from the Mediterranean. And, although situated in Liguria, the world famous Cinque Terre is very close to Piedmont.
City: Turin, the capital of the region, is one of Europe’s most elegant cities. Together with Milan, Turin is the best Italian example of a perfect combination between tradition and modernity: its old glorious baroque buildings are perfectly matched with the modern flair of the second richest city on the peninsula.
Piedmont is the real cradle of Italian food. Not only it is renowned as the birthplace of the international Slow Food movement but it is also where Eataly, the giant of food, took its first steps and gathered inspiration for distributing high quality Italian agricultural products to the rest of the world. It comes without saying that the food range of this region is wide. Amongst all, the “White Truffle of Alba” deserves a special mention due to the uniqueness of its flavor, more delicate and aromatic than the more common black version. Truffle hunting in Piedmont has become so popular in recent years that even American celebrities like Oprah Winfrey are willing to try this wonderful experience.
Piedmont produces some of the finest red wines: names like Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto are well known all around the world. Although visiting its wineries to taste these divine creations is a good reason along to go to Piedmont, there are at least two more reasons – connected with its red wines – that makes a trip to this land simply unique. First, red wine plays a big role in the process of cooking some of the most delicious dishes of this region: the “Brasato al Barolo,” for instance, is something we should all try at least once in our life. Second, Piedmontese vineyards are not just cultivations but often become the scenario for expressing different form of arts: especially in the “Langhe” it is easy to spot amazing views where modern architects have been rethinking the winery as a contemporary expression of tradition and innovation, agriculture and technology, and production and hospitality.
A great experience that amuses a large number of tourists in Italy is taking part into traditional local festivals such as carnivals, jousts and historical reenactments. Piedmont, like all Italian regions, has its own festivals, most of which date back to the medieval ages. Amongst all, there is a particular event called “Battaglia delle Arance di Ivrea” (Ivrea’s Battle of the Oranges) that is progressively gaining popularity all around the world thanks to its uniqueness. In February, in fact, during Ivrea’s Carnival, thousands of people, divided into two combat teams (one on foot and one on moving carriages), throw oranges at each other with considerable fervor. The carriages represent the king’s fortress and the orange throwers the revolutionaries. The Battle of Oranges is without doubt a typical Italian traditional event that combines history, legend and fun.
7) UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Piedmont
Italy is the country with most UNESCO sites in the world and Piedmont, like all the Italian regions, has its own treasures. Thanks to the late addition of the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato in 2014, there are now 4 UNESCO sites in the region:
– Residences of the Royal House of Savoy: a group of structures in Turin and its province. Amongst them La Venaria Reale, the 7th most visited monument in Italy, stands out for its grandiose estate of 80,000 square meters of floor surface and 50 hectares of gardens.
– Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy: a series of nine groups of chapels and other architectural features created during the seventeenth and late sixteenth century.
– Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps: a series of prehistoric stilt house settlements in and around the Alps built from around 5000 to 500 B.C. on the edges of lakes, rivers or wetlands.
– Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato: comprised of five distinct wine-growing areas with outstanding landscapes. The Castle of Grinzane Cavour deserves a special mention; it is an ancient fortification in which the most important white truffle auction in the world is held every November.
Are you planning to visit Piedmont to experience a little piece of authentic Italy?
Have a look at Select Italy’s tours and choose the one is best for you!