In 2019 Lonely Planet named Piedmont, Italy the world’s top region to visit in 2019. This is high praise from one of the travel industry’s leading authorities. Read on to find out what makes Piedmont this year’s big destination.
It may not be on your bucket list… yet. But Piedmont is a perfect amalgam of all the things that make an Italian holiday magical: unparalleled vistas, a storied history, and at its heart a beautiful city center that blends culture, gastronomy and a bustling nightlife. Below is just a taste of the Piedmont attractions that await you
With the Alps surrounding the Piedmont region on three sides, you can bet your snowshoes the landscape is not only going to be beautiful, but also a mecca for winter sports fanatics. The Via Lattea, or Milky way, is a constellation of ski resorts peppering two parallel valleys just west of Turin. Many of the 2006 winter Olympics events were held in these resorts, leaving a legacy of great facilities.
In the summer, you can replace your snow boots with hiking shoes and trek up to the Sacri di San Michele, the tenth century Gothic-Romanesque Benedictine abbey that inspired The Name of the Rose. It’s located in the Val di Susa (one of the milky way valleys mentioned above) just outside Turin and one of the more iconic sights in Piedmont. Alternatively, you can walk the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy UNESCO Heritage site, renowned for how its architecture representing the nine calvaries (holy mountains) is seamlessly integrated into the landscape.
There are so many reasons why Turin is the Italy’s best kept secret. It not only has a storied past, but its present also boasts a thriving arts, culture and food scene.
You won’t have to look hard for things to do in Turin. It’s the home of the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt, housed in the Museo Egizio, or Egyptian museum. On a more modern note, it celebrates its historic affiliation with the Fiat company through the Museo Nazional dell’Automobile.
The forward-thinking Turinese were early to embrace contemporary art. The city boasts one of the most outstanding collections, housed in the Castello di Rivoli, formerly owned by the House of Savoy. Built in the tenth century, a visit brings you the dual benefit of exploring a UNESCO World heritage Castle.
Another must-see in Piedmont is the 18th century Basilica di Superga, located on the Superga hill outside Turin. It’s famous for being the royal burial place of the House of Savoy. It is also infamous for being the site of a 1949 plane crashed that killed Turin’s entire football team.
But what will keep you coming back to Torino and the region is the Piedmont cuisine. The city of Bra gave birth to the slow food movement. Visit the Terra Madre Salone del gusto, an international exhibition of gastronomy that takes place in Turin every two years, or stop by one of Bra’s amazing slow food restaurants for a culinary experience you won’t forget.
There’s a reason why the slow food movement began in Piedmont; its residents have a long history of gastronomic excellence. PIedmont is the birthplace of chocolate as we know it today. Cocoa beans were introduced at court in 1563. Piedmont chefs then mixed it with locally grown hazelnuts to invent gianduja, a hazelnut chocolate spread (a.k.a. Nutella) and the individually-wrapped balls filled with hazelnut cream called gianduiotto. Savour one or three gianduiotto with a nice mug of Bicerin, a coffee beverage made from espresso, chocolate and milk in one of Turin’s historic cafes.
Piedmont cuisine is also known for its famous tartufo bianco, or white truffles, sniffed out each fall by truffle hunters and their specially trained dogs. Visit Turin in October to witness the open-air Truffle fair where the little white mushrooms sell at a princely price.
Another important Piedmontese dish is their signature pasta dish, agnolotti: small, half-moon-shaped pasta stuffed with a blend of ricotta and vegetables or meat.
If the chocolate didn’t convince you, then Piedmont wines will. The Langhe region around Alba, near the towns of Barolo and Barbaresco, is one of the best known and most historical winemaking regions in Italy. Made from Nebbiolo grapes, get ready to enjoy deep, intense, full-bodied reds that are unique to the region. Make sure you visit the Museo del vino a Barolo in Barolo’s medieval castle for a history of winemaking in the region. And head to Barbaresco to taste some of the amazing wines at the Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco, a deconsecrated 19th century church whose walls are lined with bottles of beautiful Piedmont wine.
Piedmont: the region you didn’t know you needed to visit
Whether you’re drawn to its cuisine, ski slopes, hiking slopes or UNESCO heritage sites, Piedmont is remarkable destination, rich with culture and natural beauty. From Rome, the journey by train to Turin is only four hours, past some of the world’s most astonishing landscapes. See it now before everyone else catches on...