Our must-see guide to Piemonte – Part 1

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White mountains or green hills? Glaciers or still lakes? Industrial districts or medieval villages? The choice is yours! Dense in history, rich in natural wonders, famous for its food and wine, the region of Piemonte conceals pleasant surprises for every traveller.

Piemonte
The region of Piemonte in northern Italy and the Alps in the background.

A historical hub

Cast on the eastern side of the Alps, the region of Piemonte is at the border of two worlds. On the one hand, it has a history of trade, conflicts and alliances with the southern French provinces of Dauphiny and Savoy. On the other hand, it is deeply rooted in the Italian and Mediterranean traditions. It houses the springs of the Po River, which cuts through the north of Italy, and produces some of the most characteristic food and wine products on the peninsula. Once inhabited by the ancient Taurini, icy Piemonte witnessed Hannibal’s heroic elephant-ride across the Alps, and was later occupied by the Romans in 27 BC, becoming an important province of the Mediterranean domain. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Piemonte hosted Lombard and Frankish duchies. In the 11th century, the royal house of Savoy was instituted in the area stretching across the Italian and French slopes of the Alps. The Savoys ruled Piemonte throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and were responsible for the unification of Italy in 1861. First capital city of Italy, Torino was a European hub of the industrial revolution, while rural Piemonte underwent developments in primary production and cross-border trade.

Piemonte Revamped

Despite its major emphasis on the industrial development of Italy during the 1950s and ‘60s, globalisation beat out Piemonte’s family-based production. The region renewed it’s central role in Europe, and fostered mass tourism when it hosted the Winter Olympics in 2006.

Lingotto Turin
The Lingotto in Turin used to house one of Fiat’s main factories.

The industrial district of Lingotto became a centre of international exchange, and today welcomes tourists and visitors to its hundreds of exhibitions, festivals and summits. In the past ten years, the renovation of tourist sites and skiing facilities, and the revamping of fairs and themed events in the region has made Piemonte a dynamic travel option that guarantees full satisfaction for adventure and leisure-seekers alike.

Fairs in Piemonte

Piemonte’s enchanting medieval heritage is displayed annually, as each city, town and village in the region hosts their yearly food fairs, harvest festivals and traditional rendezvous. Wines, cheeses, cured meats, truffles, mushrooms and chestnuts are among the best sellers. The highly anticipated Sagra del Peperone (Pepper Festival) in Carmagnola, and the Festival delle Sagre (Festival of Festivals) in Asti are the ideal meeting place for farmers, buyers and sightseers.

sagra del peperone
The Sagra del Peperone (Pepper Festival) in Carmagnola.

The Ivrea Carnival is considered one of the most peculiar traditional celebrations in Europe. It is famous for a solemn parade and the following Battle of the Oranges. For three days, the city districts engage in fights and skirmishes using oranges as weapons, turning the medieval town into a juicy battlefield.

Ivrea Carnival
The Ivrea Carnival and its famous Battle of the Oranges.

Did you know?

Founded in 1899, FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) quickly flung Piemonte and Italy into modernity. The automobile manufacturer and its auxiliary companies, spread across the region, attracted workmanship from all around the country and triggered a massive migration that proved to be a stronger motif of unification than the mild policies instituted by the king and his government. The southern suburbs of Torino housed hundreds of thousands of workers for the Mirafiori and Lingotto plants, and small to medium automobile enterprises flourished in the province. FIAT’s production played an important role in the advancement of military technology during the two World Wars, when the myopic ruling of the Savoy family enhanced the tragedies of the conflict, and gave power to Benito Mussolini. Today, the National Automobile Museum in Torino explores the history of FIAT and the car manufacTorinog industry both globally and in Italy.

Continue reading Part 2 of this must-see guide here.

More info at www.visitpiemonte.com

Check out our must-see guides from previous issues: Puglia region and Alto Adige/Südtirol!