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Monday, January 24, 2011

FYI: Profile of Piedmont (Piemonte)


Wasn't it fun spending the day with Joe in Alba, at the Pio Cesare vineyard, in the last two posts? Alba, in the Cuneo province of the region of Piemonte, could be considered the heart of Piemonte's wine country, where the wines are by many considered the best wines in all of Italy, if not the world, but there is so much more to this region than just grapes. If you are now planning your trip to Stresa or other points in Piemonte (and notice that I always use Piemonte, the Italian name, rather than the anglecized version Piedmont, because after all, that is what you will be hearing, reading, and using here, and so I'd like that you start to use it also), here are just a few basic starter facts about this area you'll be coming to. Italy's north has a history quite different from the south, which accounts for the completely different styles, foods, and influences. Stresa is in the Verbano-Cusio-Ossola province, making almost as far north as one can go in Italy. But it is no less "Italian" here; in fact I find it quite fascinating this complicated mix of cultures and dynasties that has made Northern Italy what it is today.

From the website Understanding Italy here is a very brief history and summary of Piemonte:

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Piedmont is the second largest of the Italian regions with Sicily being the largest. It has an area of 25,399 square kilometres and a population of about 4.3 million. The capital of Piedmont is Turin (Torino). It is surrounded on three sides by the alps, and shares borders with France and Switzerland as well as the Italian regions of Lombardy, Liguria, Aosta Valley and Emilia-Romagna. The provinces are Alessandria, Asti, Biella, Cuneo, Novara, Torino, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli.

Piedmont is the historical home of the Savoy family, previous rulers of Italy, who have left behind a fabulous legacy of opulent, baroque palaces. Visitors searching for history and culture can also enjoy many other medieval fortresses and castles as well as more than 40 museums. However, Piedmont's magical, flowing landscapes remain one of the region's greatest attractions. Piedmont is also famous for its cuisine. Highlights include their sought-after white truffles, great wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco, various sweets and deserts, Vermouth, and the hazelnut-chocolate confection we know as Nutella.

Turin (Torino), situated on the banks of the river Po, was once a major European political centre, and was Italy's first capital city in 1861. It is a major industrial centre, ranked third after Rome and Milan and is the 78th richest city in the world. The city is also famous for being the home of the Shroud of Turin and of Italian football team Juventus. Turin is the headquarters of Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo. In 2006 Turin hosted the Winter Olympics and continues to provide excellent facilities for a wide range of winter sports.


Italy comprises twenty regions, of which Piemonte is one. The regions are then divided into provinces, for example Verbano-Cusio-Ossola. Provinces are further divided into comunes, such as Stresa. And comunes can have frazione, small villages that are parts of them. Stresa has 11 frazione, such as Carciano and Someraro for example.

The Understanding Italy website is full of quick and easy information such as this. Thanks to my travel colleague, Gina, of Villa Vita, for leading me to this site.








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