Notes taken when getting ready for our Pidemont Trip:
We plan to visit the Piemont region of Northern Italy sometime in November. Were planning to do this by motorbike, but as it will be cold at this time we’ll be renting a car instead. Not making any reservations at this time as we are going to wait and see how the weather forecast is. No sense going if it’s going to be raining or clouded in.
Piedmont seems like a very interesting area, often described as “Tuscany without the tourists”. This is what Italy’s tourism website has to say about it: Piedmont is in Italy’s northwest and borders Switzerland and France. True to the meaning of its name (foot of the mountain), Piedmont is a land of mountains. It is surrounded on three sides by the Alps, with the highest peaks and largest glaciers in Italy. Monviso, the Piedmont side of Monte Rosa and the other spectacular mountains in the region, create incredibly beautiful landscapes, and ski resorts abound. The Alps form the background for sweeping, picturesque valleys, e.g. the Val di Susa, Valsesia and Val d’Ossola. The landscapes of the Langhe and Monferrato are hilly, rather, but just as beautiful, a succession of cultivated hills and vineyards that are dotted with small towns and castles. Expanses of water and rice paddies, long rows of poplars and old farmhouses make up the typical scenery of the plains around Novara and Vercelli. Lake Maggiore is the most sought-after tourist resort, including Stresa and the Borromean Islands, charming as they are with their ancient villas surrounded by beautiful lawns and gardens. Next up are the intriguing Medieval castles – like the imposing fortress at Ivrea – and prized works of architecture – the famous Residences of the Royal House of Savoy and the Sacri Monti (Sacred Mountains) certainly deserve to be mentioned.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, Piedmont underwent the fate of much of Italy – by a sequence of invading hordes from the east and north. Among them, the French feudal family of Savoy occupied Turin briefly in the 11th century. The Savoy house was back again in the 13th century and ruled for about 500 years, until the French Republican army defeated it. They returned to power after the fall of Napoleon’s empire and remained the ruling family until the end WWII and the birth of the Italian Republic.