Hardly anyone spends time in Piemonte unless it is to cross it on the way to Aosta and the Mont Blanc tunnel or, if arriving from there, to head towards Milan or south to the sea. There it sits, at the foot of the mountains as its name describes it, stuck in the great bend of the Alps, thoroughly ignored.
This is a pity because there are many places worth travelling through and stopping off to see. Some of the loveliest northern lakes are in Piemonte, especially those of Lago Maggiore and Lago d’Orta.
Heading south from the lakes you are surrounded by the rice fields of Vercelli and Novara, some of the most fertile land in Italy, glittering panes of glass as the sun glimmers off its water-filled fields. Further south again and you come into the low rolling hills of the Monferrato, where fruit trees blossom and then fall heavy with fruit in the fall.
A few kilometres more and the hills rise higher; here are the vineyards that will go to many of Piemonte’s wonderful wines. In the woods behind them, deep under the oak trees, are Albi’s famous truffles, waiting to be rustled up by specially trained pigs and dogs.
Steep ravines divide Piemonte from Liguria. The roads snake up and around before diving down to the sea. Here you can find wild chestnuts, walnuts, and hazels (Ferrero uses them to make Nutella), as well as wild boars!
In the Spring all is soft pastels, in the Summer a hazy gold. In Fall there is a fresh bite to the clear air as mountain breezes spin down to the plains, in Winter all is faded away into misty curls of fog and frost. Any time of the year, it’s worth a trip through Piemonte.
Article © Carl Ottersen