As many guidebooks say, Piedmont is arguably the most elegant region of Italy: a tangle of nature, historical attractions, delicious food and fine wines. Not too far from Turin (the former royal capital of Italy), the rolling hills of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, surrounded by narrow valleys and mountain peaks, offer breathtaking sceneries and a unique environment for vineyards.
Piemonte is history and memory, art and culture, legend and traditions. A priceless heritage filled with fascination that meanders between cities, towns, abbeys, castles and fortifications embracing age-old charm, fairy-tale views and landscapes rich in evocative power.
From the moment when Emanuele Filiberto transferred the capital of the renaissance Duchy of Savoy to Turin, right up to the reunification of Italy, Piemonte was considered the “capital” region of Italy and after become Italy’s industrial capital, a title attained in the middle of the nineteenth century and still rigorously defended nowadays, in the 21st century. This capacity to constantly reinvent itself, transforming crises into opportunities for new development, means that Piedmont lies at the nerve centre for new technologies and innovation, not just in Italy, but in all of Europe.
The 15 Residenze Reali (Royal Residences), ascribed to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1997, are perfect highlights of art, culture and countryside and they are an artistic and cultural treasure, not only for the region, but also for the whole of Europe. An alternative way to visit a region is to follow a Medieval pilgrim route, and Piemonte, with its doors always open to Europe, offers this opportunity with its numerous ancient abbeys, churches and with the seven Sacri Monti, which were also included in the UNESCO list in 2003. The cultural heritage is made up of residences, historical gardens, castles, fortresses and over 400 museums, ranging from the civic, public and ethnographic to eco-museums; all these are capable of guaranteeing a striking and complete offer for art lovers, and take the form of exhibition centres with displays which range from archaeology to contemporary art, from natural science to cinema, and from decorative art to anthropology.
With its 160,000 hectares of protected land, Piemonte provides the opportunity to discover unique countryside and habitats typical of alpine areas, and of hills and plains. 41% of the region is characterised by imposing mountain chains which are home to internationally-renowned ski resorts while the remaining 59% is divided between hills and plains (which include the main rice fields in Europe). It borders with France on the west, Switzerland on the north, Valle d’Aosta on the north-west, Lombardy on the east, Emilia Romagna on the south-east and Liguria on the south. The protected land also boasts two national parks: the Gran Paradiso and the Val Grande, and particular importance is paid to the area of the river Po, which covers the entire stretch of the river in Piemonte as well as the area to the north-east, occupied by Lago Maggiore and Lago d’Orta.
Past and future, art and the culture of food, handicrafts and research are all established in a region with a powerful productive impulse: an area which is both at the avant-garde of innovation and new technology and characterised by extraordinary natural richness. Here, the cultural opportunities go hand in hand with the array of free-time activities.
Piedmont: a land of wine
Hilly stretches as far as the eye can see, on which ancient villages and castles are perched, a succession of gentle slopes planted with vines the rows of which make geometric shapes: this is the magnificent scenery of the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, which has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beautiful wine-growing areas of Piedmont, which with their landscapes shaped by of nature and man, have become part of the world heritage list. These strips of land that extend into lively shapes, modulated by the changing of the seasons, represent the outstanding quality of the Piedmont landscape and its profound and living culture of wine.
These areas produce wines of international quality and excellence – such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Asti Spumante and Barbera d’Asti – made thanks to a rich heritage of knowledge and techniques, based on the deep knowledge of the vines cultivated here for centuries (Nebbiolo, Moscato Bianco, Barbera).
The Six UNESCO Areas
The zone classified by UNESCO covers an area of over 10,000 hectares and includes numerous municipalities and six areas.
Beginning with the Langa of Barolo, which extends south of Piedmont. It is in these lands that one of the world’s finest wines is produced, the Barolo, a wine of great structure and longevity.
Another area is that of the hills of Barbaresco, which includes mainly Nebbiolo vineyards, which produce the long-aging red wine called Barbaresco. The area, which includes the villages of Barbaresco and Neive, is dominated by the medieval tower of Barbaresco, overlooking the river Tanaro.
The third area is that of Grinzane Cavour Castle, which is located in one of the most evocative spots of the Langa, 5 km from Alba, famous not only for wine, but also for the beautiful castle in which every year an auction is held every year for white truffles.
Canelli is another UNESCO World Heritage territory, mainly cultivating Moscato Bianco. This vine produces the aromatic sparkling wine Asti, one of the most exported Italian white wines abroad.
Returning to the lands classified by UNESCO is Nizza Monferrato, an area of dissemination and cultivation of the Barbera grape. The area also contains important examples of wine culture, including the Museum Bersano, and is characterized by the town of Nizza Monferrato, identified as the “capital” of Barbera, and outstanding example of a “villanova” medieval medieval.
The last territory became part of the World Heritage list is the Monferrato of Infernot. That is the area of the Basso Monferrato where there are the “infernot” – old, deep cellars dug several meters directly in a particular rock similar to the tuff (the Pietra da Cantoni). The original owners and builders of these wineries, although they did not have extensive knowledge of building or geology, were able to produce perfect works that are beautiful to visit.
Wonderful places that UNESCO describes as “An exceptional living testimony to the historical tradition of grape growing and winemaking processes, of a social context, and a rural economy based on the culture of wine.”
“The vineyards of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato,” – according to the official reason of inclusion, “are an outstanding example of man’s interaction with his natural environment.”
The presentation are taken from the Piedmont government official website http://www.regione.piemonte.it/piemontexperience/en and the Italian official turistic website http://www.italia.it/en