Like other Italian Regions, Piemonte (or
Piedmont) offers the traveler a variety of
wonderful landscapes, from the snow-topped
mountains in the Alps that border with France
and Switzerland, to the rolling foothills that
flow out of the mountains, to a wide and fertile
plain. The Italian Region of
(Lombardy) lies to the west, and
the south. The north west corner borders
on the Region of
The capital, Turin, the home of Fiat
auto manufacturing, is a large, sprawling,
sometimes ugly metropolis that can be
off-putting as you drive, bus or train into its
old, central district, the "centro".
Once there, however, it is rich in
architectural, artistic, and culinary treasures.
All of Italy (and some of France) can be found
in Piemonte. Architecturally, styles range from
Romanesque, to Gothic, to Renaissance and now,
to the ultra modern, which includes the most
oppressively mundane to the odd building in
Turin and elsewhere that thrills. Visitors
can enjoy the countryside as guests at any one
of hundreds of Agriturismi, or can ski, hike,
climb, and kayak in the Italian Alps.
to its history - well, as with all parts of
Italy, it is long, complicated and interesting.
Archaeologists have unearthed prehistoric stone
engravings, and bronze age settlements in
Piedmont, indicating the original tribal
inhabitants of the Region were mostly
Ligurian and Celtic.
During the 2nd
Punic War, in about
218 BC, the
Romans moved north in an unsuccessfully
Hannibal from invading Italy, by way of the
Alps through the Monceniso pass 80 kilometers
west of Turin. It seems to have been the
first contact the Romans had with local tribes.
In 150 BC, the Romans, now more secure in their
role as a great empire, settled and subjugated
Piemonte (as well as as what is now Liguria and
After Roman rule collapsed in the 4th century
AD, control over the area fell first to the
Byzantine Empire, then to the
during which time a hierarchical feudal system took hold that lasted well
into the 19th century. The Piemonte area evolved into an independent
kingdom from about 888 to 963, during which time
Holy Roman Emperors made many unsuccessful efforts to annex Piemonte.
Finally, at least in a nominal sense,
Piemonte (with parts of modern Lombardia and Liguria), became part of the
Holy Roman Empire with the founding of the
House of Savoy,
a dynasty that lasted until, and continued long after, the unification of
Italy in 1861.
invaded, and King Vittorio Emanuele I went into exile. The
Congress of Vienna in 1815 restored his throne. Sometime after,
social, cultural, economic and political events engendered the period that
has come to be known as the
Risorgimento, in which the House of Savoy, played such an important
role, leading the war efforts against the Austrians in 1848 and 1860.
Unification of most of the modern country of Italy was achieved in 1861, as
the Kingdom of Italy, with Vittorio Emanuele II as its monarch, and
Turin as the country's first capital.
All did not remain peaceful. The Nazis
invaded and occupied northern Italy, which roused the people to such an
extent that Piemonte was a hot bed of the Italian resistance - the
After the restoration of the House of Savoy
in 1815, Piemonte began a long modernization in almost every aspect of life,
interrupted of course, by the two great wars, but never really ceasing.
Piemonte's economy, one of the most vibrant in
Italy, is supported on a mix of industries, from
car manufacturing in Turin (Fiat) to farming
(dairy farming wheat, grapes, maize, rice) and
associated agricultural production (wine, dairy
products), to tourism. Over 700 square
kilometers (170,000 acres) are devoted to
viniculture, and many of the wines produced,
are sought after by wine connoisseurs around the
world. The white wine, Asti Spumonte,
produced from grapes grown in the Asti region is denegrated by many
as a poor man's champagne, but increasingly it is being seen for what it is:
a superior, sparkling white.
Come through the Frejus tunnel from
southern France, or over the Swiss Alps.
Come east from
or north from
Piemonte Coat of Arms
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