Piamonte, Italy: At the Foot of the Mountains

Piamonte, which is known in English as Piedmont and literally means “foothills,” is a region of northern Italy that is made up of the provinces of Torino, Alessandria, Asti, Cuneo, Novara, and Vercelli.

One of the factors for which Piamonte is well known is its interesting geographical position — it is surrounded by France, Switzerland, and northern Italy. This places it firmly at the center of European development trends and contributes to the dynamism of this region, which is balanced between old tradition and new innovation.

Among the many attractions that draw tourists to the Piamonte region are the mountainous site of the 2006 winter Olympics, the great food and wines, pre-eminent textiles, technology and car production, the Savoy palaces, the film industry, art, and architecture.

Here are some attractions that you will want to be sure to see during your trip to Piamonte, Italy:

The Valsesia

Valsesia is known as “the greenest valley in Italy.” However, one of its most famous attractions is not green at all; it’s pink. Monte Rosa is the name given to the mountain which fills the sky with a rosy pink glow during winter sunsets. Even the tracks left by the skis along the mountainside glow pink. Monte Rosa is a wonderful site for mountaineering, skiing, and other winter sports.

The Langhe

The hilly, mist-shrouded area known as the Langhe is a lush, scenic region filled with silver green poplars and climbing vines. The Langhe is an area devoted (almost entirely) to the cultivation of wine grapes and hazelnuts. In fact, the region is home to more than 900 wineries, which can be visited for wine tastings.

Langhe literally means “strips of land” and the region consists of three separate areas. The Upper Langhe is wild and rugged with thick oak woods that are occupied by wild boar and nearly 50 species of orchids. The Middle Langhe is filled with hazelnut groves, and the Lower Langhe is home to the many vineyards.

The Great Lakes

Three lakes at the foot of Monte Rosa — Orta, Mergozzo, and Stresa — offer many wonderful attractions. Surrounding the lakes are a number of churches, parks, cottages, and villas that make up a quaint sort of “small Switzerland.”

Another main attraction is the island of San Giulio at the center of Lake Orta. You can take a boat out to the town of San Giulio to visit the Basilica, wander around the tiny alleys, and pop into a local café.

The Monferrato

The Monferrato is another region of Piamonte that is well known for its wine. The principal wines produced here are Barbera d’Asti, Barbera del Monferrato, and Freisa d’Asti. The rolling landscape of the Monferrato is covered with orchards, gardens, and vines.

Here you can also witness a great variety of historical architecture and visit the ghetto, which was the home of the area’s Jewish residents until the emancipation of the Jews occurred in 1848. Make sure to also visit the synagogue, which was built in 1595 and said to be one of the most beautiful in all of Europe.

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