PIEDMONT, ITALY: Gastronomy, History and Amazing Landscapes

I’ve always had a fascination with the north western Italian region of Piedmont, with its perfect combination of gastronomy, history and beautiful scenery. In fact, the name Piedmont is derived from Latin loosely translated to the foot of the mountains, as its bordered by the snow-covered Alps to the west towards France and to the north towards Switzerland.

During the late spring I was fortunate to cycle 140km over three days, starting from the rice-growing plains near the Po river passing through the historic cities of Alessandria, Acqui Terme, Canelli, Alba and ultimately Asti.  Some of the climbs were extremely challenging but I was rewarded with idyllic views of the UNESCO World Heritage Langhe-Roero & Monferrato wine regions.

On a separate occasion I explored the Piedmontese capital, Turin, with its wide pedestrianised, boutique cafes and rich gastronomy.

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My route across Piedmont

Got rice?

The trip started across vast fields of wheat and rice.

crop field

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Close to Spinetta Marengo, where in 1800 Napoleon won a famous battle against the Austrians

Arriving in Acqui Terme

Acqui Terme, a quaint spa town 35 km south west of Alessandria. The little pavilion in the town centre is known as La Bollente, for the spot where the waters bubble up at 75 °C.

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Local specialty. Ravioli stuffed with meat and covered in barolo sauce!

After a quick lunch, it was uphill towards the vineyards, in the baking sun.

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Tough climbs being rewarded by splendid views of the surrounding countryside

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Followed by a mesmerising sunset, near Barbaresco

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wine

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I stayed in a comfortable and affordable Agriturismo (b&b) near Acqui Terme. Private message me for details
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Next day, met a friendly local in Canelli, which is believed to be the birthplace of the Italian sparkling wine Asti. The village’s history of the wine is still evident today with the popular synonym of Muscat Canelli that is still used for the Moscato grape used to produce the wine. There is a beautiful villa overlooking at the top of the hill.

Quaint town of Alba, which is known mainly for two things…white truffles and nutella! I swear that the air in that town smells of hazelnuts!

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While we’re in the topic of dolce, some of these appear quite similar to French desserts which isn’t a coincidence considering that the region has historically had a strong French cultural influence

Turin

One another occasion I visited Turin, with its elegant squares and palaces, is the first capital of unified Italy when the kingdom of Italy was unified in 1861. The city, is often mistakenly overlooked for more popular destinations such as Rome, Florence and Venice which I rather enjoy since it retains its authentic character. In particular, the city offers a unique and relaxing vibe with its boutique cafes, world-class museums such as the Egyptian museum & Galleria Sabauda and diverse & distinct cuisine.

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From Cappuccino Hill, this panorama highlights Turin’s renaissance, baroque, rococo, neo-classical, and art nouveau architecture. One distinct feature is the Mole Antonelliana completed in 1889

Royal Palace of the House of Savoy – UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Arcaded shopping gallery, in fact Turin has 15km of arcades!

The Roman Palatine Towers. During the Roman period, Augusta Taurinorum as Turin was known, became an important strategic military centre, as well as a centre for commerce with the neighbouring regions. Here is a statue of Octavian (the future emperor Cesar Augustus)

Arrivederci and unti the next adventure!

Alexandre Rotenberg

Author of the Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography, purchase a copy below for only $7.50 and see more images from his adventures!

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