Piedmont Italy for Great Food, Wine and Home to White Truffles - What else?

Piedmont Italy - Introduction

Piedmont Italy gets its name from its position of being at the foot of the mountains. Situated in the north-western part of the country, it borders France and Switzerland. Piedmont is also famous for its wonderful food, its truffles and wine.

Piedmont is a region of Italy that suits every pocket from the well-heeled to the budget traveler. There is certainly a lot to do here, no matter what the season, for in the winter there is lots of skiing to be done in the surrounding mountains, and in the winter these same mountains are ideal for hiking, cycling and picnicking.

Turin the Capital City of Piedmont Italy

The capital of Piedmont Italy is of course, Turin, a city famous for its Baroque art, and architecture, as well as having the most important museum of Egyptian history outside of Cairo, found in the Palazzo dell'Accedemia della Scienze. It is closed on Mondays.

Turin is one of Italy's most beautiful cities, and is often compare to Paris due to its grandeur and elegance.  Although there are parts of Turin that are a little grimy due to the fact that much of it has been overtaken by industrial expansion, there are some areas of Turin that are really beautiful, and shouldn't be missed. One word of advice, Turin can be bitterly cold in winter, especially during the "black month'" of February, and very hot in summer.

Stop awhile and see this lovely city, Visit the Piazza Carlo Felice and travel along Via Roma until you get to the massive, cafe lined Piazza San Carlo. At the southern end you will find the Baroque churches of San Carlo and Santa Cristina.

Via Roma ends at Piazza Castello, the very center of the historical area of Turin. The palace is a reminder of the wealth and sheer opulence that existed here during the Savoy era.

Look too for the Duomo with the famous Shroud of Turin are further along Via Roma.  Although carbon dating has placed the shroud at around the 13th or 14th centuries, people still flock to see it. You can find it in the little chapel of the Duomo in the Capella della Santa Sindone.  Don't miss Luigi Gagna's copy of Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper" above the doors. It is considered to be the best copy of the painting ever done.

The Mole Antonelliana dominates the horizon to the east, leading to the Via Po where you can find the grand Po River.         
"What is the fatal charm of Italy? What do we find there that can be found nowhere else? I believe it is a certain permission to be human, which other places, other countries, lost long ago." ~Erica Jong

Po Valley, Piedmont italy

Growing Rice in the Piedmont Area of Italy Copyright Idéfix, June 2005

Slow Food Italy - Piedmont

Piedmont Italy is a foodies' paradise, especially in autumn. It's the time when the rolling hills yield plump, luscious grapes for its famous wines, and the moist, misty forests of autumn yield wild mushrooms and white gold in the form of the famous white truffles. It is also the time when the cheeses are brought down from the dairies in the mountains, and the rice is harvested in the Po Valley.

In Piedmont Italy, you can find great Italian food that has been heavily influenced by their French neighbours. You will find food from the rustic hearths of farmhouse kitchens to fine dining . You can find it all in this region!

Piedmont Italy also the region that produces 2/3rds of Italy's rice that grows mostly in the Po Valley. It is not surprising, therefore, that rice is regional dish in the form of risotto, a short grained rice that has to be cooked slowly by adding hot liquid to the pot throughout its cooking time.

Other famous regional dishes making up the wide repertoire of slow food Piedmont Italy include agnolotti a pasta similar to  ravilo i which is filled with meat, spinach and cheese. Another regional speciality is fonduta , a local form of fondue, made with melted Fontina cheese, eggs and sometimes grated truffles. Cardi in Bagna Cauda made of edible thistles dipped in a hot sauce made from butter, oil, anchovies, cream and shredded garlic. See the recipe for Cardi in Bagna Cauda on our page for Top Authentic Italian Dishes

Another slow food regional dish from Piedmont Italy is Agnolotti ring-shaped envelopes of pasta stuffed with meat and spices. They also enjoy tagliatelle cooked in chicken broth and served with chicken livers. A lot of polenta is eaten here, as well as semolina gnocchi, which is said to have originated from this region.

As I have said before, there is no such thing as Italian Food And you can see what I mean in our pages explaining how food differs from region to region in Italy.

Alba is famous in the Piedmont Region for its white truffles, tartufi bianchi, which are said to be the best in Italy and grow in the clay soil that is particular to this region. Every year in Piedmont Italy they have a truffle festival in Alba. This year, in 2010, the Alba Truffle Fair will run from the 09 October, 2010 - 14 November, 2010, on Saturdays and Sundays. October is the height of the white truffle season, with the highest prices and the fiercest competition among both hunters and buyers.

Delicious toronne from CremonaCrowds of thousands converge on the town to sample local food and wine - including roast pork, salami, polenta, almond and chocolate cake, apricot cake, Baci della Mamma "Mother's Kisses"; a soft biscuit, gianuiotti chocolate from the Turin area, hazelnuts, Torrone which is nougat with a crunch, and Moscato d'Alba wine. 

They have some good cheeses in Piedmont too. Look for Gorgonzola from Novara, Robiola from Alba, Toma from Valsesia and Bra from Villa Franca. If you like hard cheese, don't miss Castelmagno and you will also find several sellers of goat's cheese too.

And look out for the Donkey Race which is also part of the general festivities and has all the pomp and ceremony of the esteemed Palio races like they have in Sienna and Asti, but they use the humble donkey instead.

But instead of doing some truffle buying, why not throw yourself wholeheartedly into the truffle experience by going truffle hunting? Well, in Piedmont Italy you can do just that with a tour organized by the Cerreto Winery, Alba.You have to book, and you will also need to have a group of 8 to do this tour which is only held during the truffle season. However their winery is open for wine tasting daily at the Monsordo-Bernardina Estate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except during January and February when it is closed.

If you are interested in learning more about other festivals in Italy during your visit see our page on Italian Festivals.

Piedmont Wine

Slow Food Piedmont T

Slow Food Piedmont from Cuneo

The wine in Piedmont Italy is well known and their reds and whites are comparable in quality. In fact, Piedmont is one of Italy's most important wine-producing regions. Most of the reds are full-bodied and famous vineyards found in the hills of Southern Piedmont are known throughout the world; Barolo, Nebbiolo, Fresia, Barbera and Barbaresco. The sparkling wine Asti Spumante also comes from the Piedmont region.

Barolo wine is one of the most famous of all Italian wines. It is produced from the Nebbiolo grape variety and grown in the area south of the Tanaro River, the Barolo zone is located a little over 7 miles southwest of Alba and is 5 miles at its widest point. It is a complex wine that tastes of damsons and mulberries, chocolate, violets and spices has a smooth velvety flavour with a slightly resinous aftertaste - known as goudron or tar. The wines are almost always lightly colored varying from ruby to garnet in their youth to more brick and orange hues as they age.

Barbaresco, which comes from the steep slopes surrounding the ancient town of the same name, is also a big wine, but which matures quicker than the Barolo. It is also produced from the Nebbiolo grape, and is an excellent wine to lie down, being good to drink still 20 years after production. The typical style of a Barbaresco has bouquets of roses or violets with flavor notes of cherry, truffles, fennel and liquorice. The tannins of Barbaresco tend to soften quicker, which can make the wines more approachable to drink at an earlier age

Because of the many vineyards that dot this Piedmont region, you will find many who open their cellar doors for tours and tastings.

No matter what the season, Piedmont is a wonderful destination to explore, and there is always something to please everyone!

Piedmont Italy's Ski Fields and National Park

There are many areas in the Piedmont region where you can go skiing as it is surrounded by the Alpine ranges with famous skiing resorts of Sestriere, Bardonecchia and Limone Piemonte.  

is just 17 kms from the French boarder and is a very popular place for skiiers, being part of the 'Milky Way' of ski resorts. Sestriere is connected to 146 skiable pistes, for a total of up to 400 km of trails, of which 120 are provided with artificial snow. Sestriere is also one of the few facilities where it is possible to ski at night on a floodlit run.

Bardonecchia is 90 km from Turin and one of the top 10 of Italy's ski resorts.  It is also popular with snowboarders. Once host to the Winter Olympics this is a ski resort that can offer you dream runs for the pros as well as gentle slopes for the novice.

Limone Piemonte is 100 km south of Turin and about 20 km south of Cuneo, on the border with France and is one of Italy's oldest ski resorts.  Limone Piemonte is a very picturesque old village with cobbled streets, centred round its twelfth-century church and other old buildings making this a charming place to stay during the winter skiing season.

The National Park of Piedmont Italy

The Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso of Piedmont Italy is a nature lover's delight. This vast area is a vista of dramatic mountains and lush, green meadows that used to be part of the hunting reserves of the House of Savoy.  

During spring the meadows and dales are covered in Alpine flowers and many waterfalls flow as the winter ice melts in the warmer spring temperatures.

During the summer this is a favourite place to go hiking, and enjoying the scenery as well as the wildlife that abounds. From butterflies and frogs to wolves and the near extinct ibex (see above), a mammal that looks like a large mountain goat, but is actually part of the deer family.

In winter, the park is used by skiing enthusiasts for cross-country skiing.

There are many small villages where you can stay within the park. One of the best is
Cogne , where you can explore a lot of the park from here, and where you can pick up maps of the routes and footpaths available for exploring on foot.

How to Get to Turin:

By Car:  Turin is on a major autostrada junction. The A4 connects with Milan, the A5 with Aosta, the A6 with Savona and Liguria, and the A21 with Piacenza.  Don't forget that you will go through many toll roads, and that you should carry small change and smaller denominations at all times to pay for the toll.

By Train: The main train station is at Porta Nuova, on the Piazza Carlo Felice. Enjoy the wonderful architecture of this train station when you get there. Regular trains connect Turin with other major Italian cities.

By Bus: The Bus terminal is at the Autostazione on Corso Inghilterra. Buses here serve the Valle d'Aosta region, most towns and the major ski resorts of Piedmont, as well as other major Italian cities.

By Plane: The main airport is at the Caselle International Airport of Turin, 16 km (10 miles) north of Turin's city center. You can find flights to all European and International destinations from here.

You can also catch an express bus into the city. From the airport the bus leaves on the arrivals level just in front of the exit. There are ticket machines inside or you can buy them at the tourist office or the newstand in the departure lounge. The bus service runs from 6:30-23:30.

If you wish to catch a taxi into the city you can get one to the left at the exit of the Arrivals Area.

For overseas travellers flying into Italy, you flight will probably terminate in Milan at Malpensa Airport.  From the airport there is a bus to Milan's main train station and from there a train to Turin will take about 1 1/2 hours.