Piedmont: Travel a True Italian Mosaic
With its deep valleys and rich history, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Italian region of Piedmont.
As a combination of the Italian words for “foot” and “hill,” Piedmont is a region encapsulated in beauty. Situated between Switzerland and France, surrounded by the Alps, it has a reputation for many things. Wine, food and culture are three such luxuries, as well as its natural and regional parks and reserves.
The cities Alessandria, Asti and Biella all brim with art and events, and though Piedmont isn’t surrounded by sea, its abundance of lakes, wetlands and network of rivers gives it a lush landscape. But, above all that, what’s particularly memorable about Piedmont is its hamlets; the region is home to 17 recognized as among the most beautiful in Italy.
Vogogna is one such hamlet. Located in the Verbano area between Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta, its narrow streets, stone houses and wooden balconies all serve to transport visitors to another time and place. It’s particularly well-known for its Vogogna Castle, built in the 14th century by Giovanni Visconti, bishop of Novara and Lord of Milan.
Orta San Giulio, in the province of Novara, is another that sits by the lakes. One main draw of the location is the Sacro Monte di Orta, a complex of 20 chapels that run along a specific route. The buildings are filled with sculptures and paintings, surrounded by Lake Orta.
Venture closer to the coast, toward Genoa, and you’ll discover Monforte d’Alba, another hamlet steeped in medieval history; its surrounding vineyards boast a legacy of growing the only grape variety that can be used to make Barolo wine. For those who love its taste, the hamlet offers an ideal fusion of sipping and sightseeing.
If food is more your preference, Cocconato is a scenic spot, home to only 1,600 people and famous for its Robiola cheese. With a unique microclimate, its countryside also has olive and palm trees, as well as all sorts of wildlife.
In the Alps, you have Garessio, a hamlet in Cuneo, full of high-altitude trails that traverse the mountain and a ski station overlooking the Gulf of Liguria. Venture farther north and you’ll find Usseaux in Val Chisone. It’s known as the “Hamlet of Murals” thanks to the variety of artwork depicting past life in the village.
Rosazza, located northeast of Turin, has a reputation for being a place of mystery. With only 100 people living there it’s tiny, but what it lacks in population it makes up for in atmosphere, with a castle that dates back as far as 1883 surrounded by houses decorated with Masonic and occult details.
Wherever you choose to explore in Piedmont you can rest assured you’ll return home satisfied, with new tastes, sights or experiences. But above all, you’ll return with lasting memories and a newfound appreciation for Italy.