Piedmont, Italy

Piedmont is a region in northwestern Italy. The Piedmontese are probably the most reserved of the Italians. Their industriousness was at the basis of the industrial revolution in Italy starting from 1800; the crisis of heavy industries has left its traces in the economy of Piedmont, which is gradually adapting towards services and tourism, thanks to the natural beauty of the region and the variety of its landscapes.

The kingdom of Savoy has left traces throughout the region, particularly in its architecture (18th - 19th century) and in the vast nature reserves, deriving from the royal hunting reserves.

The numerous UNESCO sites, as well as a historical heritage dating back to Roman times and distributed between large cities and small jewel villages, are accompanied by the great variety of natural environments. In Piedmont, a tourist can pass in a couple of hours from the Po Valley to the highest peaks of the Alps, or cross the Unesco hills of Lower Piedmont and reach the Ligurian coast in an hour, via the expressway of the motorway, or dedicate half a day to exploring the most fascinating mountain roads of the Apennines, to finally spot the sea 1000 meters below your feet.

Geographic hints
It borders France to the west (Auvergne-Rhône-Alps and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regions), Valle d'Aosta to the north-west, Switzerland to the north (Valais and Ticino cantons), Lombardy to the east , to the southeast for a short stretch with Emilia-Romagna and to the south with Liguria.


Spoken languages

Piedmontese is spoken by around 2-3 million people throughout Piedmont. However, it is Italian that dominates in everyday communication. In 2004, the regional council recognized the Piedmontese language as the official language of the region, also protecting the Occitan, Franco-Provençal and Walser minorities.


Urban centers

Turin (Torino) — the first capital of the Kingdom of Italy, today it is an exceptional cultural, historical, artistic and industrial center. There is the majestic Mole Antonelliana, the Egyptian Museum (second only to that of Cairo), the automobile museum, the Savoy gallery, not to mention the splendid architectural works that can be admired walking through the old centre, such as Piazza Vittorio Veneto, the most arcaded square in the world.
Alessandria — The citadel, the Cathedral, the Marengo Museum, the Palazzo Cuttica Museum, Piazza della Libertà are just some of the most important monuments and architectural works that can be admired in the splendid historic center built in an elegant Savoyard style.
Asti — center of Piedmont's major wine region, Monferrato, was an important medieval republic known as the city of 100 towers, 15 of which can still be seen in the ancient walled city.
Cuneo — Wedged (as the name suggests) between the Gesso and Stura rivers, the city still has a splendid fortified historic center in which the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Bosco, the civic tower and the spectacular Piazza Galimberti stand out.
Novara — The city preserves interesting artistic and architectural treasures such as the daring dome of the Basilica of San Gaudenzio, the very symbol of the city, and the early Christian baptistery of the cathedral, one of the oldest religious buildings in Piedmont.
Vercelli - A very important agricultural and commercial centre, the largest producer of rice in Italy, it offers tourists an enviable historical center dominated by the Abbey of Sant'Andrea, the Cathedral and the splendid Torre dell'Angelo.
Verbania - the largest city on the shores of Lake Maggiore. Intra and Pallanza are the two historic cores that have been united to form this city. However, two parts with a different nature remain: Pallanza, more suggestive, with medieval atmospheres; Intra, more modern, with an industrial past, an important stop on the lake.
Biella - Located at the foot of the Biellese Alps, it is an ancient city that gathers important historic buildings in its village, not to mention the very important evidence of industrial archeology.



Montalto Dora



Other destinations

Residences of the Savoy royal family — Splendid villas, palaces and luxurious castles remind us that Piedmont was for centuries the flagship of all of Europe, during the reign of the House of Savoy.
Sacri Monti di Piemonte e Lombardia — UNESCO World Heritage Sites, dot the rolling valleys and lakesides of northeastern Piedmont.
Bossea Cave
Gran Paradiso National Park
Castello della Manta
Castle of Racconigi


Territories and tourist destinations

Piedmontese Alpine arc - The western and northern borders of Piedmont are entirely occupied by the Alps, which in the Piedmontese section are divided, from South to North and in a clockwise direction, into the Maritime, Cottian, Graian and Pennine Alps, up to the western coast of the Lake Maggiore (shared with Lombardy to the east and Switzerland to the north). The Piedmontese Alps have some of the most important Alpine peaks, including Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso (whose summit is, however, in the Val d'Aosta) and Monviso, the source of the river Po. The interest of the region for tourism winter is ensured by ski resorts of international renown, many of which hosted the competitions of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games. The naturalistic and historical-cultural attractions are also of particular importance, making the alpine environment a destination suitable for all seasons : the Piedmontese Alpine arc hosts, among others, the Alpi Marittine Natural Park (Cuneo) and the Gran Paradiso Park (Turin), as well as some of the most important monuments in the history of art and architecture worldwide, such as the Sacra di San Michele, overlooking the Val di Susa, and the Sacro Monte di Varallo, not far from Lake Orta. The Piedmontese section of the Alpine arch also hosts important passes and crossings towards France, such as the E74 road of Col di Tenda and the E70 of Frejus, at the bottom of the Val di Susa. The most important localities are Biella, Sestriere, Macugnaga, Domodossola, Verbania, Stresa, Susa, and Ivrea. Of important tourist interest are the towns on the shores of Lake Maggiore which, on the Piedmontese shore, are Arona, Baveno, Verbania, Cannobio and Dormelletto.

Piedmont hills — The area includes a large section of southern Piedmont and extends from the eastern part of the province of Cuneo to the north-eastern part of the province of Alessandria. From west to east, the Piedmontese hilly area includes the territories of the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato. The typicality of the hilly landscapes of Lower Piedmont, characterized by a centuries-old interaction between anthropic crops (first of all the vine), woods and small villages rich in history, has recently allowed the Vineyard Landscapes of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato to be recognized as a World Heritage Site Humanity, by resolution of 22 June 2014, during the 38th session of the Unesco committee in Doha. The main urban centers in the area are Bra, Alba, Canelli, Nizza Monferrato and Asti. Also there are several small villages such as Monforte d'Alba, Cella Monte, Neive, Barolo, Barbaresco. In Roero the main localities besides Bra are also Govone and Guarene.

Piedmontese Apennines — The Piedmontese section of the Apennines extends in the southern area of the province of Alessandria. The Erro and Scrivia valleys form its backbone. Acqui Terme, Ovada and Tortona are the main access points to the region, which borders the province of Genoa in its southern part.

Piedmontese Po Valley — Novara and Vercelli north of the Po are the main cities of the Piedmontese plain, located in a fertile plain where rice cultivation has developed over the centuries.
To the west and north Piedmont is surrounded by the Alps, to the south by the Apennines, to the east by the Po valley.


How to get here

By plane
Turin Caselle "Sandro Pertini" airport: it is the main one in Piedmont. Located 16 km north of Turin, it is connected to the city by the Turin-Caselle motorway junction and the provincial road 2 and is served by the public bus between Turin Porta Nuova and Caselle Airport and by the Turin-Ceres railway.
Domestic flights: Alghero, Bari, Brindisi, Cagliari, Catania, Lamezia Terme, Lampedusa, Naples, Olbia, Palermo, Pescara, Reggio Calabria, Rome-Fiumicino, Trapani.
International flights: Barcelona, Brussels, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Ibiza, Istanbul, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Malta, Munich, Paris.
Cuneo International Airport: located 21 km north-east of the city of Cuneo, it is connected to the Savigliano and Fossano railway stations and can be reached by aerobus from Turin, Cuneo and Fossano and via the Turin-Savona motorway.
Domestic flights: Alghero, Cagliari, Elba Island, Rome-Ciampino, Trapani.
International flights: Bacau, Bucharest-Otopeni, Casablanca, Hurghada, Marrakech, Satu Mare, Tirana.

By car
From France:
Through the tunnels of Frejus or Mont Blanc,
Through the Colle della Maddalena (Col du Larche),
Through Ventimiglia or Colle di Tenda.
From Switzerland: through the Simplon or the Gran San Bernardo tunnel.
From Italy: via the A4 Turin - Trieste, A21 Turin - Piacenza, A6 Turin - Savona, A5 Turin - Aosta - Mont Blanc motorways; A7 Milan - Genoa; A32 Turin - Bardonecchia - Frejus Tunnel; A33 Asti - Cuneo; A26 Genoa - Gravellona Toce.

On the train
From France: directly to Turin from Lyon through the Frejus Tunnel.
From Switzerland: through Domodossola.


Getting around

By car
Below is a list of the Piedmontese state roads:
SS20: Turin - Ventimiglia (IM).
SS21: Borgo San Dalmazzo (CN) - Colle della Maddalena.
SS24: Turin - Montgenèvre/State border.
SS25: Turin - Moncenisio/State border.
SS26: Chivasso (TO) - State border of the Mont Blanc Tunnel (AO).
SS28: Genola (CN) - Imperia.
SS32: Novara - Castelletto above Ticino (NO).
SS33: Milan - Sempione Pass state border.
SS34: Gravellona Toce (VB) - State border of Cannobio (VB).
SS231: Asti - Cuneo
SS335: Oulx (TO) - Bardonecchia (TO).
SS336: Gallarate (VA) - Varallo Pombia (NO).
SS337: Masera (VB) - State border of Re (VB).
SS341: Novara - Varese.
SS490: Bagnasco (CN) - Finale Ligure (SV).
SS659: Crevoladossola (VB) - Formazza (VB).


What to see

Roman period — Porta Palatina and via XX Settembre in Turin. Excavations of Libarna near Serravalle Scrivia. Excavations of Augusta Bagiennorum in the Cuneo area.
Romanesque art — Romanesque is well documented in Piedmont. Cathedral of Casale Monferrato. Church of San Giorgio in Valperga and those of San Bartolomeo and the Blessed Virgin of the Assumption in Villadossola. In the Asti area, the abbey of Vezzolano, Pieve di San Lorenzo in Montiglio Monferrato, the church of Saints Nazario and Celso near Montechiaro and the church of San Secondo in Cortazzone. The most evocative examples are the abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso in the Novara area and the Basilica of San Giulio on the homonymous island in Lake Orta. Sacra di San Michele in a transitional style from Romanesque to Gothic and the same is true of the Castle of Gabiano.
Gothic art Examples of Gothic are the Cathedral of Asti, the basilica of Sant'Andrea in Vercelli, the cathedral of Chieri, the church of San Giovanni in Saluzzo and those of San Marco and Santa Maria delle Grazie in Varallo. The abbey of Sant'Antonio di Ranverso has frescoes by Giacomo Jaquerio
XV - XVI centuries — Examples of Renaissance architecture are the Castle of San Genuario in Crescentino in the Vercelli area and the church of San Cristoforo in Vercelli
XVII - XVIII centuries — Palazzo Borromeo on Isola Bella (Lake Maggiore). Examples of rococo are the palace of Venaria Reale.
19th - 20th centuries — The cathedrals of Novara and Alessandria are examples of neoclassicism together with the Royal Castle of Racconigi.
A more complete list of the main religious monuments of Piedmont can be found in the relevant topic.


What to do

Piedmont has a varied tourist landscape, with a territory that presents a great wealth of opportunities.

The area of the lakes on the eastern border of the Region (Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta and Lake Viverone) is very popular in spring/summer, where there is an established hotel district.

Winter and mountain sports
The realm of winter sports is the area close to the western border, in the Susa Valley and Val Chisone as well as some renowned ski resorts also in the Cuneo area (Limone Piemonte, Artesina). All snow sports are practiced here in winter, while in the summer season the ski lifts allow easy access to alpine panoramas of remarkable beauty.

Food and wine
Langhe, Monferrato and the Saluzzo area are instead the homeland of the "sweetness of living", with numerous agritourisms that give the opportunity to appreciate the great agricultural wealth of the Region. Even the oldest touristic areas have equipped themselves to face a growing demand for high quality food and wine. The regional capital, Turin, is also becoming a showcase of the Piedmont area. Establishing itself as the "capital of taste", it is enhancing the region's food and wine heritage thanks to numerous professionals and the role played by the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre. It is no coincidence that the city saw the opening of the first Eataly, but also of innovative initiatives in the field of quick catering linked to local products.

Cultural tourism
The city of Turin has stood out in recent years for the rediscovery of a notable historical-artistic heritage due to its status as a European court between the 1600s and 1800s. Distinguished in the historic center by a very tidy and well-finished urban form from an architectural point of view, similar to some cities in nearby France, you can visit important museums born from the collections of the reigning Savoy family, such as the Egizio, the Royal Armory, the Royal Library and the Savoy Gallery, as well as palaces and historic homes. The city is surrounded by a circle of Baroque royal residences built by the Savoys between the 1600s and 1800s, today grouped in the tourist circuit of the "Royal Residences". Also important are the vestiges of the industrial past which have always made the city a place of innovation, a pioneer in many fields. Witnesses of this are the National Auto Museum, near the former Fiat Lingotto factory, and the National Cinema Museum housed in the Mole Antonelliana. In the field of sport, the Juventus Museum is enjoying considerable success. The Val di Susa has a remarkable historical-artistic heritage due to the presence of the Via Francigena, with four large medieval abbeys and a network of artistic assets scattered in churches and chapels in the area, both in the Lower and Upper Susa Valleys.

There are many opportunities for walks and hikes. Thanks to an early practice of alpine tourism, almost all the mountains of Piedmont have not only a network of paths and mule tracks, but also numerous refuges useful as stopping points. The structures around Monviso, in Val di Susa, in the Valli di Lanzo, in Ceresole, on the Piedmont side of the Gran Paradiso Park and in the Monte Rosa area are very popular.

Via Francigena
The Colle del Moncenisio, that of Monginevro and the valley floor of the Val di Susa are places of transit for pilgrims of the Via Francigena of the Valle di Susa, while Eporediese and Canavese host the itineraries of the Valle d'Aosta section of the Via Francigena. Along the way you can admire the many monuments of art and faith erected by pilgrims who have passed through these areas over the centuries.


Restaurants and cuisine

The peasant tradition has left its influence on Piedmontese cuisine. Bollito Misto and Fritto Misto are traditional dishes of ancient tradition. Bollito Misto is made up of various cuts of beef and pork, boiled with vegetables and served with a choice of sauces (typically the green sauce made with parsley and garlic). Fritto Misto is a mixture of vegetables, meats and desserts, variously battered or breaded before being fried (for example, sweet semolina). Another traditional dish is the Bagna Cauda: it consists of a sauce made with garlic and anchovies, cooked for a long time over a very low heat, which is served with a variety of raw and cooked vegetables (e.g. raw cabbage, onion cooked oven and seared peppers). A typical dish of the Vercelli area is the Panissa, which is a type of risotto made up of rice of the Arborio, Baldo or Maratelli variety, beans of the typical quality grown in Saluggia, onion, Barbera red wine, lard, "salam d'la duja", salt and pepper.

Turin has been the fulcrum of the diffusion of chocolate throughout Europe; in its pastry shops you can find excellent chocolates (for example the Gianduiotto, hazelnut chocolate, or the Grappino of bitter chocolate filled with grappa). In Ivrea you can also find Torta 900, a dessert with a base of cocoa sponge cake, filled with a delicate chocolate cream.

Piedmont is famous for its full-bodied red wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, but also Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Arneis, Freisa, Moscato d'Asti, Erbaluce di Caluso are rightly gaining the appreciation of wine lovers. Certainly also the Gavi, one of the best Italian whites, should be mentioned. Most of the vineyards are in the provinces of Asti and Alessandria, but viticulture flourishes throughout the region.



Piedmont does not present particular risks from the point of view of crime. Clearly in its capital, Turin, being a very populated city there is a risk (in any case very low compared to other areas of Italy) of being the victim of robberies or pickpocketing. In small mountain towns, on the other hand, you can rest easy if you exercise a minimum of common sense. However, the whole region is generally safe.



Initially the term Piedmont, which from the end of the 12th century appeared written on topographical maps in the Latin version Pedemontium or Pedemontis (meaning "at the foot of the mountains"), identified the possessions of the Savoys, limited to the stretches included in the vicinity of the Sangone, of the Dora Riparia and the Po. Subsequently the term was extended to indicate an increasingly large part of the plain on this side of the Alps, elevated to Principality in 1418, in conjunction with the Savoy conquests. The link with the alpine landscape is evident in the story. In the Susa Valley in the Novalesa area, located at the base of the Moncenisio Hill, which has a steep difference in height between the pass and the valley floor surrounded by high peaks, an ecclesiastical building located along the busy Via Francigena was already indicated between the 12th and 13th centuries as S Maria ad Pedem Montis Cenisii, or S. Maria de Pedemontio.


Physical geography

The territory of the region can be divided into three concentric bands, of which the prevailing and most external one is the Alpine and Apennine one (as much as 43% of the regional territory). Inside there is the hilly area (31% of the territory), which encloses the flat area (26% of the territory).
Many rivers and streams flow in the region, all tributaries of the river Po which has its source in Pian del Re at the foot of Monviso.

The mountain ranges affecting Piedmont are the Alps and the Apennines, which surround the region on three sides, without interruption, from North to South in an anticlockwise direction.

In particular, the Alpine sectors that cross the region are the Ligurian Alps, the Maritime Alps, the Cottian Alps, the Graian Alps (Western Alps, on the border with France and the Aosta Valley), the Pennine Alps and the Lepontine Alps (Central Alps, on the border with Switzerland).

The Apennine sector that affects Piedmont is instead the Ligurian Apennines (Northern Apennines), located on the border with Liguria and Emilia-Romagna. The mountain ranges thus form a natural border on three sides.

The Piedmontese mountains have an imposing and harsh appearance: the summits above three thousand meters descend rapidly towards the plain, characterizing the western area of the region which, unlike all the other Alpine regions, does not have the Pre-Alps. This phenomenon is particularly evident in the Susa Valley, where for example in Susa the valley floor is at an altitude of only 503 meters above sea level, while the peaks surrounding the town exceed 3,000 meters and reach 3,538 meters above sea level. with Rocciamelone. Below the rocks and pastures there are large extensions of coniferous woods (Piedmont is the first Italian region for forest area, with about one million hectares of woods[20]), among which fir trees are less common than in other sections of the Alps; going down in altitude they soon give way to beech and chestnut groves. In this band there are the highest peaks of the region, which exceed 4000 m: Punta Nordend (4609 m), the highest regional elevation as well as the second highest peak of the Monte Rosa massif; and the Gran Paradiso massif, which reaches an altitude of 4026 m with the Roc; then there are numerous peaks that exceed 3000 m, including Monviso, Uia di Ciamarella, Rocciamelone, Monte Leone and Argentera.

Human footprints are evident in the valleys, represented by important international road and railway communication routes. In the smaller valleys there are dams, hydroelectric plants and tourist centres.

The main hilly areas are Canavese to the north-west, the Langhe and Roero to the south, Monferrato and the Po hills in the centre, the Novaresi and Vergante hills to the north and the Tortona hills to the south-east.

The southern hills of the Langhe and Monferrato are formed by ancient marine sediments and are not very resistant to water, which digs a labyrinth of furrows and valleys. The well-exposed slopes are cultivated with vines, cereals and fodder but also with orchards and hazelnut groves, while livestock farming, once very widespread, is now concentrated in the southern plains. In 2014 the vineyard hills of the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Between these hills and the Alps, a plateau full of water reaches as far as Cuneo, at an altitude of over five hundred metres: here the fields are mainly cultivated with fodder and cereals. The Po Valley begins right in the region, which, especially in the provinces of Vercelli and Novara, is widely cultivated with rice fields, thanks also to the large amount of water available, both for resurgences and, above all, for artificial canals, the most important of which is certainly the Canale Cavour.

In the area around the big cities, in particular in Turin and Novara, the typical landscape is that of anthropic development even if less accentuated than in the rest of the Po valley, while in the rest of the plain rice alternates with other cereals and fodder and the plantations of poplars intersect the fields.




The Piedmontese territory is rich in watercourses, all tributaries of the river Po, which entirely crosses the region from west to east. To be mentioned, in addition to Po himself, are:
Tanaro, the main right tributary, 276 km long with its main sub-tributaries, the Bormida and the Stura di Demonte; it flows into the Po at Rivarone;
Maira, a right tributary, approximately 111.1 km long, flows with its tributary Grana - Mellea through the valleys of the same name, the Cuneo plain and the Saviglianese area, to then flow into the Po at Lombriasco;
Varaita, the first tributary on the right, 75 km long, originates in the homonymous valley near Bellino, passes between the Saluzzo and Saviglianese areas and flows into the Po in the municipality of Casalgrasso;
Pellice, the first tributary on the left, 60 km long, with its main sub-tributary Chisone, runs through the Pinerolo valleys and flows into the municipality of Villafranca Piemonte;
Sangone, a left tributary, 47 km long, runs through the homonymous valley, flowing between Moncalieri and Turin;
Dora Riparia, a left tributary, 125 km long, runs entirely through the Val di Susa; it flows into the Po in Turin;
Stura di Lanzo, left tributary, 65 km long, with its 3 branches runs through the Valli di Lanzo; it flows into the Po near Turin;
Malone, a left tributary, 48 km long, whose course separates the geographical Canavese from the Ciriacese; it flows into the Po between Brandizzo and Chivasso;
Orco, a left tributary, about 100 km long, originates from Lake Rosset (in the Gran Paradiso National Park), runs through the valley of the same name and the Canavese from north to south, flowing into the Po near Chivasso;
Dora Baltea, a left tributary, 160 km long, after having entirely crossed the Valle d'Aosta, bathes Ivrea and crosses the eastern part of the Canavese, flowing into the Po near Crescentino;
Sesia, a left tributary, 141 km long, crosses the Vercelli area and is one of the most important rivers in eastern Piedmont; it flows into the Po near Candia Lomellina;
Cervo, a left tributary, 65 km long, after having collected the waters of the Elvo flows into the Sesia not far from Vercelli;
Agogna, a left tributary, 140 km long, originates from Mount Mottarone and flows into the Po in Lombardy. Near Novara the river gives rise to the ''Piana dell'Agogna'';
Ticino, a left tributary, 248 km long, is the second Italian river in terms of water flow, tributary and emissary of Lake Maggiore, it flows entirely in Piedmont (province of Novara) for only a few km and in the remainder it marks the border with the Lombardy;
Toce, 83 km long, the most important tributary of Lake Maggiore after the Ticino into which it flows, flows entirely in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola;
Belbo, right tributary, 86 km long, the largest watercourse that crosses the Langhe and then flows into the Tanaro;
Scrivia, a right tributary, 88 km long, flows almost completely in Piedmont and then flows into the Po in Lombardy;
Curone, a right tributary, 50 km long, flows in Piedmont and Lombardy and flows into the Po near Ghiaie di Corana.



There are numerous alpine lakes of glacial and morainic origin in the region. Lake Maggiore, which marks the eastern border with Lombardy, together with its outlet, is one of the largest lakes in Italy, while others, natural or artificial, do not exceed 2 km². Of all the lakes present, the following are particularly noteworthy:
Lake Maggiore, the largest lake in the region, located on the border with Lombardy and Switzerland, between the provinces of Novara and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, has a surface area of 212 km² and a maximum depth of 372 m;
Lake Orta, the second largest lake in the region, between the provinces of Novara and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, has a surface area of 18.2 km² and a maximum depth of 143 m. Its peculiarity is to have the island of San Giulio in the centre;
Lago di Viverone, the third largest lake between the provinces of Turin and Biella, has a surface area of 6 km² and a maximum depth of 50 m.

Among the decidedly smaller natural lakes are Lake Mergozzo (1.85 km²), Lake Sirio (0.3 km²), Lake Candia (1.52 km²) and the Lakes of Avigliana (0.9 and 0.61 km²).



Piedmont has a typically temperate continental climate, which in the Alps becomes progressively temperate-cold and cold as you go up in altitude. In the areas located at low altitudes, winters are relatively cold but with little rain and often sunshine, with the possibility of snowfalls, sometimes abundant, in the areas along the Po, on the hilly areas such as the Langhe and Monferrato and in the foothills. Snowfalls are instead less frequent and occasional in the north-eastern areas. Summers, on the other hand, are hot and muggy with the local possibility of heavy thunderstorms, especially in the areas north of the Po, while in the areas south of the Po, summer rainfall represents the minimum rainfall together with winter rainfall (the lower rainfall in summer is due to the which are less exposed to Atlantic perturbations, which bring rain and storms). The rains fall mainly in spring and autumn over most of the territory, in summer in the higher alpine and inland areas: the annual quantities are considerable on the mountain and foothill slopes of the north of the region, while they are scarcer on the plains south of the Po, especially in the province of Alessandria.

The direction of origin of the air masses has a great influence on rainfall. If they are humid and come from the south, south-east or east, the Alpine chain blocks their way (it is the phenomenon called stau): in this case the rainfall can also be very abundant, especially on the first mountain slopes, sometimes causing floods. If, on the other hand, the air currents come from the north, north-west or west, the humidity is discharged on the western side of the Alps and therefore the air that reaches the region is dry, being able to cause the absence of rainfall even for weeks . Furthermore, foehn phenomena are becoming frequent in the mountain and foothill areas, especially in the province of Turin (see heat wave of January 2007). Snow in winter is a relatively frequent meteor, given the basin effect of the Alps and the Apennines, greater in the south-west, which makes air exchange difficult and in winter favors the accumulation of a cushion of air cold on the ground.

On the shores of Lake Maggiore there is a particular microclimate, with milder winters than in the rest of the region and cooler and stormy summers. Even in the valleys and hills facing south there are milder and sunnier climates.



From a geological point of view, Piedmont is a region where there are important mountain ranges, extensive hilly areas and a large plain. In the Triassic (256 million years ago), while the Atlantic Ocean was forming to the west of present-day Europe, a large gulf was present at the latitude of Italy: it was what remained of the ancient ocean, called Tethys: over time it began to dry up and its surface began to arch and rise again due to a phenomenon of subduction, the surface warmed up also due to the heat produced by the ascent of magma and extensive rocky layers which formed part of the mantle, oceanic crust and of the continental one were pushed to the surface overlapping each other.

20 million years ago the Alpine chain was now formed; in the Mediterranean area there was a new rise of heat from the earth's mantle which caused the arching and breaking of the European crust from which the Sardinian-Corsican block detached. This micro-plate pivoted on the Ligurian Gulf performing an anti-clockwise rotation of 50° and forming the Ligurian Sea. The sea covered the hills of Turin, the Langhe, Roero, Monferrato and the Po Valley.

The increase in water temperature transformed the Mediterranean Sea into a shallow salt lake with many dried up areas, a condition which lasted several hundred thousand years and caused the deposit of saline-type sediments: the evaporites. Subsequently the Mediterranean returned to communication with the oceanic waters and the water began to circulate again, forming a triangular gulf between the Alpine chain and the Apennine chain; following the continuous upheavals of the Alpine and Apennine chains, the sea withdrew from the gulf and the accumulation of sediments carried by the rivers gave rise to an alluvial plain which corresponds to the current Po valley. The marine deposits of this period are visible in the current Asti area of Piedmont, but they are also present in the Biellese area and at the mouth of Valsesia and Valsessera to testify that the sea reached almost under the Alpine chain. Some islands emerged from the sea that covered Piedmont, the current Turin hill and the Lower Monferrato. From fossil remains we know that the climate of that period was subtropical, and therefore hotter and more humid than the current one. The streams carried their debris forming delta mouths [unclear] on which herds of rhinoceros, elephants, deer and horses grazed. The water courses with their erosive force removed the sediments of the previous period, even hundreds of meters thick, covering the basin with megaconoid fluvial deposits. A million years ago the climate underwent a further change: rainfall increased and temperatures became colder. This led to the birth of Alpine glaciers. The glacial tongues ran along the valleys, deepening and widening them sometimes reaching the plain. The dendritic material that came from the mountains built impressive morainic amphitheatres, clearly visible at the mouth of the Dora Riparia and Dora Baltea valleys and in the areas around Lake Maggiore and Orta.



In the region there are numerous protected areas, extended for more than 193,000 hectares, equal to about 10% of the regional surface; among these we find two national parks, Gran Paradiso and Val Grande, 56 regional parks and reserves and numerous provincial protected areas.

Based on the results of the XXI edition of Legambiente's Urban Ecosystem (2014) and (2015), Piedmont manages to place the city of Verbania in first place in the virtuous ranking in the environmental and ecosystem field. Novara (18th place), Cuneo (13th), Asti (40th), Biella (17th) are also in a good position. More distant Vercelli (64th), Alessandria (77th) and Turin (84th).



Inhabited since the Paleolithic, after the melting of the ice in the upper Po valley, in the 1st millennium BC. it was occupied by Celtic and Ligurian populations, including the Taurini and Salassi, subsequently subdued by the Romans, who founded colonies such as Eporedia (Ivrea) and Augusta Taurinorum (Turin). In the first years following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Piedmont passed under the control of the Germanic populations: first entering the domain of Odoacre, it was then conquered by the Ostrogoths. In the mid-6th century, Italy was reconquered by the Romans, only to fall into the hands of the Lombards in 568. In 774, Charlemagne conquered the Lombard kingdom, including Piedmont. In the 9th and 10th centuries it suffered the new incursions of the Saracens who destroyed, among other things, the Abbey of Novalesa in Val di Susa. Compared to what happened in the rest of northern Italy, territorial lordships developed preponderantly in Piedmont, such as that of the Counts of Castello, who in 1291 sold Sempione and Gondo to the Bishop of Sion Boniface de Challant. Administratively divided into counties and marches, it was partially unified in the 11th century by Olderico Manfredi II, who obtained the two important marches of Turin and Ivrea and bequeathed them to his son-in-law Oddone di Savoia, son of Umberto I Biancamano. The process of unification of Piedmont under the Savoy took several centuries, first for the formation of autonomous municipalities, such as Asti, Alessandria and Savigliano (12th century), and strong marquisates, such as those of Saluzzo (11th century) and Monferrato (12th century ); then due to the intervention of powerful external lords, such as the Visconti (14th century); finally for the involvement of the region in the struggles between the Habsburgs and the Valois for hegemony in Italy and Europe (16th century). Only after the peace of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) Emanuele Filiberto and his successors were able to start the process of definitive unification, completed in 1748 with the treaty of Aachen.

After the interlude of Napoleonic domination (1798-1814), Piedmont followed the destinies of the Kingdom of Sardinia and played a central role in the Italian Risorgimento and in the construction of the new unitary state (1861), which derived from it the juridical and political structure (Statuto Albertino of 1848) and the administrative staff, in that process which was defined as the "Piedmontisation" of the state. In the most critical or transitional moments of national history, Piedmont made important contributions as a political and social "laboratory", with the workers' strikes in the world wars (in 1917 and 1943), the Turin experiences of Gramsci and Piero Gobetti (1920s ), the intense participation in the Resistance (1943-1945), the innovative industrialism of Adriano Olivetti (1950s), the season of struggles of the hot autumn (1969). The industrialization of the region was impressive, which from the traditional agrarian structure of the Savoy kingdom, founded on the hegemony of the bureaucratic and military classes and the landed aristocracy, was able to initiate, starting from the Cavourian age (1852-1861), a rapid process of modernization until it became, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a significant area of the industrial triangle that drove the Italian economic take-off. In the rapid development, there was no shortage of imbalances, above all territorial, between the Turin area, the main seat of industrialisation, and the still predominantly rural economy of the rest of the Cita homeland (just as the Turin author Armando Mottura defined Piedmont in the famous and homonymous poem of 1959). In the 1950s and 1960s, the economic fabric in which FIAT had a preponderant place attracted a large migratory flow from the Veneto and the south, which brought about profound social and cultural transformations.