WHAT TO SEE

PIEDMONT

Piedmont ( Piemonte in Italian ) means “foot of the mountain. It is surrounded on three sides by the Alps, with the highest peaks and largest glaciers in Italy. Monviso, Monte Rosa and other spectacular mountains create incredibly beautiful landscapes.

The Monferrato and Langhe are hilly, rather, a succession of cultivated hills and vineyards that are dotted with small towns and castles.

Monferrato was just elected as a World Heritage Sites from the UNESCO.

Expanses of water and rice paddies, long rows of poplars and farmhouses make up the typical scenery of the plains around Novara and Vercelli. Lake Maggiore is the most sought-after tourist ressort, including Stresa and the Borromean Islands, charming as they are with their ancient villas surrounded by beautiful lawns and gardens.

Yet, nature is only one of the many attractions in Piedmont. This region has many other facets: from Turin – the Italian car manufacturing capital – with its history and remarkable cultural heritage, to other cities such as Cherasco, Alba and Ivrea.

Next up are the intriguing Medieval castles – like the imposing fortress at Ivrea – and prized works of architecture – the famous Residences of the Royal House of Savoy and the Sacri Monti. The famous spa in Acqui Terme and Vinadio offer treatments and therapy for relax. Discoveries and surprises of all kinds are in store for visitors to the region, including a wide range of food and wine to suit every palate.

 

WHAT TO SEE

The first stop in exploration of this region should be Turin, with its Egyptian Museum, one of the largest in the world; the Shroud of Turin, one of the most precious relics in Christianity; the famous Mole Antonelliana dominating the city skyline and housing the National Cinema Museum; the Automobile Museum recently restaureted; the Lingotto area with Italian Food Exellence based on the Restourants/Shops “EATaly” via Nizza 230/14.

The Reggia di Venaria Palace is a splendid and extremely charming architectural structure.

The Royal Palace and Palazzo Carignano in Turin to the hunting lodge at Stupinigi, and from the Royal Castle at Racconigi to Turin’s Palazzo Madama, the Royal Heritage is everywhere in the city and outside.

Other historicaly destination are Cherasco, “the town of star-shaped walls”; Savigliano, rich in monuments; Alba and Ivrea.

The Sacra di San Michele is a very ancient sanctuary whose religious aspects are in perfect armony with architectonic and natural environments.

Oropa above Biella is one of the biggest and suggestive Catholic Sanctuary in Italy.

Saint Carlo in Arona is a colossal statue and in Stresa you can see the best villas and gardens.

Sky resort of Sestriere – Via Lattea is one of the most important winter sports complexes in Europe ( Olimpic games 2006 ).

Gran Paradiso National Park with its glaciers, natural lakes and protected flora and fauna.

 

WHAT TO DO

Piedmont exels in its wine production, from Monferrato to the Langhe, from Astigiano to the Tortonesi Hills: the numerous wine trails lead to charming lasndscapes, with several stops at farms and wineries to taste wines and typical local produce, like the scented white truffle.

If you are looking for health and wellness, you can choose one of the renowned spas of the region, such as Acqui Terme, surrounded by striking remains of a Roman aqueduct.

Finally, hit up a few internationally acclamed cultural events and festivals, like the Book Fair and the famous chocolate fair, “Cioccolato” that take place every year in Turin – as well as food fairs and cultural events including the famous Ivrea Carnival, The Palio horse race of Asti.

 

WHAT TO TESTE

The most typical specialties of the regional cuisine are “fondue” and “bagna cauda”: two warm and social dish that you can taste with truffle and vegetables.

Braised beef ( brasato ) in Barolo or other wine sauce.

Cheeses like: toma, robiola, macagno, bruss and gorgonzola.

Desserts like: bunet, gianduiotti, crumiri cookies, Novara cookies, baci di dama and amaretti.

Some of the best internationally red wine in the world: Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Barbera, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Fresa, Ghemme and Ruche’.

 

ASTI

The city of Asti is synonymous with Italy’s most famous sparkling wine, known as Asti Spumante. It is made of Moscato grapes in Canelli.

On Wednesday and Saturday mornings at dawn, the Campo of Palio, the Piazza della Liberta’ and the Piazza Alfieri, adjacent squares in the center of town, fill with hundreds of vendors of all kinds of food, seeds, flowers, clothes, shoes, housewares and just anything one could want to buy that can be carried home.

There is also the Trattoria del Mercato, don’t miss it.

On the Piazza della Liberta’, the small piazza connecting the two big ones, is the 1925 ( fashist era ) Mercato Coperto. This permanent covered Market, open daily ( exept Thursday afternoon and Sunday ), has enticing food beautifully displayed. Notice how merchants and customers like to meet for coffee or a glass of wine at the two bars in this building.