- Prosperous foothills
- Country life
- Farming and feasting
This northwestern region is a reminder that until just over a hundred years ago, Italy wasn’t a country, but a collection of states, each with its own distinct identity.
Until the 19th century, folk in this aristocratic province spoke French and, geographically, it has a multiple personality too, with its rolling farmland punctuated by perfectly preserved mediaeval villages and energetic industrial towns. This neighbour of the Swiss and French Alps may be landlocked, but it’s only a drive from some of Europe’s favourite lakes and beaches. And this is a part of the world that takes its consumption very seriously, so if you like your feeding-time to be formal, or your fashion labels designer, you’ll find that, in Piemonte, you’ve hit the jackpot.
Perfectly PiedmontGo funghi hunting during the autumn, and whet your appetite for delicious local cuisine, particularly dishes using the prized local white truffle.
- Towns have taxi ranks but you should book ahead in rural areas.
- Tipping culture
- In restaurants, the cover charge represents your tip.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Small shops tend to close 12h30–13h and 15h–15h30; shopping malls and supermarkets don’t close at lunchtime.
- Packing tips
- It’s less about what you take than the space you should leave to cart home edible and drinkable delicacies.
- Recommended reads
- A Long Finish by Michael Dibdin; Italian Hours by Henry James; The Devil in the Hills by Cesare Pavese.
- Ditch diet thoughts and revel in a serving of Castelmagno cheese melted over gnocchi, washed down with a full-bodied Barbera, Barbaresco or Barolo, or the ubiquitous Asti Spumante. Try bônet, a local pud using amaretti biscuits.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Italy: 39.
- Do go/don't go
- Every season has its own allure. This Alpine-fringe region is ideal for winter sports in January and February. After the heat of summer, October to December sees the wine and truffle harvest.