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
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
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
Rice in the Piedmont Area of Italy Copyright Idéfix, June
Slow Food Italy - Piedmont
Piedmont Italy is a foodies' paradise,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Crowds 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.
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
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
If you are interested in learning more
about other festivals in Italy during your visit see our page on Italian
Slow Food Piedmont from Cuneo
The wine in Piedmont Italy is well
known and their
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.
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
colored varying from ruby to garnet in their youth to more brick and
orange hues as they age.
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
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
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
Sestriere 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
How to Get to Turin:
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.
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.