Elegant and understated but also industrial and innovative, Piemonte (Piedmont) is the realm of the royal House of Savoy and the home of Fiat.
The regional capital, Turin (Torino), is Italy’s fourth largest city. It was the first capital of unified Italy (1861) and it is where you will find the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy, a complex of 22 city and countryside palaces that have held UNESCO World Heritage status since 1997.
Turin is world-famous as the site of The Shroud, a delicate religious relic that is rarely on view; for the Museo Egizio, which houses one of the oldest Egyptian collections in the world; and as the birthplace of Italian cinema, which you can learn about in a trip to the top of the distinctive Mole Antonelliana. Two of Italy’s most storied football clubs—Torino and Juventus—also call Turin home. But despite all of these advantages, Turin has a fraction of the tourists compared to other Italian cities.
Italy is indebted to Piedmont for many aspects of its food culture, including chocolate, coffee, truffles (the underground fungus variety), and wine. Piedmont and Turin are synonymous with Italian chocolate, in particular creamy gianduiotto, a hazelnut chocolate confection. This was the precursor of Nutella, a product developed in Alba, Piedmont, in 1963. Alba is also known for its white truffles and hosts the International White Truffle Fair each fall. As for wine, some of Italy’s most delectable vintages come from Piedmont, including Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto d’Alba, and Barolo.
Piedmont is also the epicenter of Slow Food, the movement that helped bring focus to Italian culinary traditions and ingredients. Born in Bra, in the Piemontese province of Cuneo, Slow Food has chapters all over the world and organizes festivals, cooking demonstrations, and other programs related to whole, honest foodways.
Map of Piemonte
The largest region in mainland Italy and the second-largest region after Sicily, Piemonte gets its name from being the foothills of the Alps (ad pedem montium).
Piemonte borders four regions: Liguria, Lombardy, Valle d’Aosta, and a sliver of Emilia-Romagna. It also borders France and Switzerland.
Piemonte is served by high-speed and regional trains. Slow train travel is recommended if you have time to spare. You will save money and you will be able to enjoy the view while you relax.
Turin-Caselle International Airport (TRN), also known as Sandro Pertini Airport, is Piedmont’s main international airport. However, most travelers to Piemonte fly into one of Milan’s well-serviced airports. Milan and Turin are approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes apart.