Piedmont is a beautiful region of mountains, lakes, hills and vineyards, which is located in the north east of Italy. Its capital is Turin, a vibrant and colourful city packed with historic monuments, and is home to the world-famous Turin Shroud. The region stretches from the Alps in the north to the Apennines in the south, and offers everything from ski resorts to mountain-top monasteries and the laid-back charms of Lake Maggiore (which lies partly in Lombardy) and Lake Orta. There are scores of charming and historic towns, such as Saluzzo, Savigliano and Orta San Giulio, which is the base for visits to the spectacular Sacra di San Michele monastery.
Piedmont stretches from the Alps in the north to the Apennines in the south, and its gorgeous hills are scattered with enchanting historic towns and vineyards. The capital of the region is Turin, a bustling and dynamic city that is home to the celebrated Turin Shroud plus a clutch of beautiful historic attractions and museums. You can laze on the shores of Lake Maggiore (which Piedmont shares with Lombardy) or the lesser-known but equally lovely Lake Orta. You could also go wine-tasting around Alba, or explore ancient towns like Saluzzo or Savigliano. Piedmont is awash with beautiful monasteries and churches, such as the magnificent, mountain-top Sacra di San Michele monastery.
Piedmont is a fantastic region to visit if you love food and wine. There are scores of amazing places to eat, from Michelin-starred options to cosy country inns. The regional cuisine is hearty, with lots of stews and roast meats. The white truffles found in the hillsides around Alba are a particularly prized local delicacy, and are shaved over pasta, risotto and many other dishes. Piedmont pasta dishes include tajarin, long, eggy pasta strips similar to tagliatelle, which are usually served with a rich ragu sauce, or else a dab of butter and a sprinkling of sage. For dessert, go for the torta di nocciola, a scrumptious cake made with local hazelnuts. Piedmont has an amazing range of wines, from Asti Spumante to Barolo, although its reds are generally considered the best. Touring the vineyards is one of the best ways to enjoy your holiday in Piedmont.
If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday with the family, with plenty of great food and rustic charm, then Piedmont is a fantastic choice. You could start in Turin, which has the Turin Shroud, plus several child-friendly museums, including the enormous Egyptian Museum where they can gawp at the mummies, and the engaging Cinema Museum, which is in La Mole, the city’s most prominent landmark building. There are a couple of zoos and safari parks to visit, along with water parks, including the enormous Ondaland, near Vicolungo. Then there are the beaches by the Lake Maggiore, Lake Mazzaro and Lake Orta, where you’ll also find a huge choice of water sports. Or you could take a boat-trip to the Borromean Islands and let them run wild in the gardens.
Action & Adventure
Piedmont has a wealth of fantastic outdoor activities, from climbing in the Alps to rafting down the Sesia River. There are scores of superb hiking routes, whether you want to tackle high elevation treks in the mountains or prefer the vineyard walks through the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato regions. There are two breathtaking national parks to explore: the Gran Paradiso National Park, which is home to a wonderful array of wildlife, and the Val Grande, which is blessed with stunning waterfalls and canyons. Skiing, snowboarding, canyoning and rock-climbing are just a few of the mountain sports on offer, while on Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta you can enjoy all kinds of water sports. These include sailing, kayaking, sailing, wind-surfing and kite-surfing, but you’ll find plenty more.
Piedmont is a land-locked region, but it still boasts beaches galore around the lakes. Lake Maggiore, which sits partly in Lombardy and partly in Piedmont, is the largest in the region, and is fringed with picturesque villages, gorgeous villas and heavenly gardens. It has lots of public beaches, including those at Cannobio and Cannero Riviera, which have each been awarded a Blue Flag for the cleanliness of the water and the excellent facilities. There are more wonderful beaches on little Lake Mergozzo, which is close to Lake Maggiore. As well as the public beaches, most of which have sun beds, parasols and at least a bar or two, you’ll find lots of private lidos, which charge a fee but usually have extras such as a pool or restaurant.
Much of Piedmont is sleepy and laid-back, but you’ll enjoy some great nights out in Turin, the regional capital. It might not be quite the nightlife hub of Rome or Milan, but it’s still got plenty of fantastic bars and clubs where you can party the night away. Most of the resorts on Lake Maggiore are low-key when it comes to nightlife – although you’ll never be short of a bar or two, where you can order a bottle of local wine and soak up the views. But there are few livelier places, particularly in Varese and Verbania, that offer a wider range of after-dark entertainment, especially during the summer.
Piedmont, with its glorious scenery, enticing towns, gorgeous food and fine wines, is a perfect destination for couples. It offers a range of experiences, to suit all kinds of interests, whether you fancy some sun and water sports on the shores of Lakes Maggiore and Orta, want to hike among the mountain peaks, or fancy a tour of the vineyards. The lively regional capital of Turin has lots of great shops, cafés and bars if you’re looking for some bright lights, plus a whole slew of cultural attractions. These include the magnificent royal residences of the House of Savoy and one of the greatest treasures in Christianity, the Turin Shroud.
Piedmont boasts several superb UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the magnificent Savoy royal palaces located in and around Turin. There are more than 20 impressive palaces, castles and other buildings, constructed by the powerful Savoy family who ruled Piedmont from the late 16th to the mid-19th centuries. Turin is also home to the Turin Shroud, one of the most important artefacts in Christianity, plus a slew of excellent museums. Piedmont and the adjoining Lombardy region are also home to the Sacri Monti (Sacred Mountains), nine mountain peaks crowned with beautiful religious buildings that were built between the 16th and 17th centuries. Don’t miss a visit to the breathtaking Sacra di San Michele monastery, which is perched on a vertiginous cliff above the clouds, and inspired the novel The Name of the Rose.