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Ready to explore some of the best things to do in Piedmont, Italy? Let’s get started.
There’s no doubt that Italy is home to many gorgeous places, but the Piedmont region will really leave you breathless. Nestled between France and Switzerland, Piedmont’s name means “at the mountain’s feet,” in reference to its location at the base of the renowned Alps.
The Piedmont region is one of Italy’s hidden gems, with lots to discover. Prepare yourself to be immersed in a destination rich in culture, history, delicious food, delectable wine, and unrivaled natural beauty.
Places to visit in Piedmont: Charming Towns and Cities
The Piedmont region sits in Northwest Italy and is home to several picturesque towns and cities. Here are some you can look forward to on a tour of Piedmont.
Turin is the stunning capital city of the Piedmont region. The city is famous for its culture and history and boasts numerous monuments and ancient buildings that have stood the test of time. These buildings are characterized by their Baroque and Renaissance heritage and this elegant city is also the industrial hub of the region and one of the most prosperous cities in Italy. In fact, it is the birthplace of famous Italian brands such as the car company Fiat.
Turin is also the official home of one of Italy’s most successful and loved football clubs, Juventus FC, also known simply as Juve. If you do visit here and plan on exploring local attractions, a Turin card can be a great cost & timer saver.
Discover more things to do in Turin in this useful travel guide.
While Turin might be the crown jewel of this Italian region, Alba certainly gives it a good run for its money. This pretty town is one of Piedmont’s points of interest that you cannot miss when visiting this part of Italy.
Alba is known for producing some of the best truffles in Italy and some of the finest wine in the Langhe wine region. Each year it hosts the world-famous Alba truffle festival. And, if that wasn’t enough, it’s home to the legendary Ferrero Rocher confectionery group that produces the delectable chocolate balls with hazelnuts that many of us love and adore.
It’s without question a food lover’s heaven, serving up some of the tastiest local food in Piedmont such as tajarin – egg pasta noodles with shaved truffles. What’s not to love about Alba?
Located just 31 miles southeast of Turin on the rolling hills of Piedmont lies the picturesque village of La Morra. It’s a relatively small village that overlooks the lovely vineyards of the Langhe wine region.
La Morra produces a variety of notable wines in the area, such as Barbaresco, Barbera, and Moscato d’Asti. But this commune is also famous for white truffles and hazelnuts, so it’s definitely a stop for food and wine loving travelers.
Barolo is home to sleepy villages, vineyards, and mind-blowing Piedmont dishes. As another one of Italy’s famous wine-producing regions, Barolo is a scenic area you’ll instantly fall in love with. Expect Nebbiolo vine covered hills that stretch into the distance for miles. It’s one of the region’s best-hidden gems, waiting to be explored.
Piedmont Food and Wine Culture
If you enjoy Italian food, then you’re absolutely going to love Piedmont. Forget the basic Italian dishes that we all know. Here, you’ll get to dive into the heart of traditional and seasonal cooking and the finest local wines. Your tastebuds will thank you for visiting Piedmont.
Piedmont is the home of some of the world’s best truffles and produces some of the most prized in Italy. Alba is the best area to go on a Truffle hunting tour, as this is where you’ll find the most sought-after white truffles which are found in fall and winter. In the summer you’ll find the black truffle variety – a little more subtle but just as delicious.
Truffle hunting is a great way to learn about Piedmont’s food culture and respect for their local environment. An expert truffle hunter and their dog are highly sought after because truffles, the prized treasure of Piedmont, can sell for between $2000 and $5000 per pound.
In the end, you’ll even enjoy these prized delicacies with some wine or shaved over a hearty Piedmont pasta dish.
Alba Truffle Fair
If you are unable to go truffle hunting, then another way to see and taste these gems is at the Alba Truffle Festival. The world’s most celebrated fair dedicated to truffles, the festival usually takes place for an entire month each year, from October to November.
During this time, you’ll see tons of these rich delicacies on display and learn about their history and importance in Piedmontese culture. Of course tasting the famous truffles is a must!
TIP: Try this Alba Truffle Fair guided tour, where you’ll enjoy the festival and go on a tour around Alba’s historic center.
Premium Wine Tasting
It’s a known fact that Italians love their wine, and Piedmont is a great place to experience this. Piedmont is one of the dominant and prestigious wine-producing regions. So it’s no surprise then that you’ll find a plethora of vineyards, and numerous wines to try.
Barolo and Barbaresco are two of the local wines of the region. Barolo is known as the king of wines in Piedmont and also classified among Italy’s best wines. Made from Nebbiolo grapes and known for aging well, this wine is mainly produced in the vineyards around the town of Barolo.
Sharing many similarities with Barolo, Barbaresco is also made from Nebbiolo grapes however there are distinct differences in taste. You’ll find that Barolo wine has a fuller taste, whereas Barbaresco is a much lighter table style wine.
You can visit various wineries and enjoy a wine-tasting tour while you’re in Piedmont’s Langhe region and enjoy these celebrated wines right at their source.
Treat Yourself to Gianduja
Most people might not know this, but Piedmont is the birthplace of Gianduja. In simpler terms, Gianduja is the combination of hazelnut and chocolate paste that we enjoy in chocolates like Ferrero Rocher or Nutella.
It was invented in the beautiful city of Turin during Napoleon’s reign in the 18th century. All around Piedmont, you’ll find this beloved chocolate variant in the form of candy bars and dessert fillings. Make sure to try local artisan chocolates made by brands like Stratta and Peyrano and you may never eat standard chocolate again.
While Italians are known for their excellent food and wine, another thing they’re pretty famous for is their popular coffee culture. But, forget about having a regular espresso; this coffee comes with a twist.
Bicerin is a drink native to Piedmont, first created in Turin. It has three distinct layers made from espresso, chocolate, and whole milk. Sometimes they’ll even top it off with some fresh cream. It’s the perfect drink to pair with a pastry or cake. Caffè Mulassano in Turin is a traditional and elegant place to try Bicerin as, according to locals, they were among the first cafes to serve this decadent drink.
Try Some of Piedmont, Italy’s Unique Dishes
Piedmont is renowned for having an array of unique dishes. Here are some you should try when visiting the region.
Tajarin With White Truffle
This rich pasta dish is the Piedmontese version of tagliatelle. Egg pasta is served with a simple butter sauce and truffles. It is believed that this regional pasta originated as early as the 1500s and, over time, received an upgrade with the addition of truffles.
While it’s a rather simple plate, it’s absolutely to die for, especially when paired with a glass of Barbaresco or Barolo wine.
Translated as “hot bath” in English, Bagna Cauda is a pungent garlic based dipping sauce for vegetables that you’ll usually find served during winter. The sauce is served with vegetables and a slice of bread to soak up all the flavor of the sauce.
Agnolotti is another pasta dish that was believed to have originated in the 14th century. It’s a relative of ravioli and tortellini but is much smaller and made by piping in the filling and sealing it. You’ll find vegetarian options such as spinach and ricotta or meat varieties with sauce.
Discover Piedmont’s Historic and Royal Past
One of the top things to do in Piedmont Italy is to delve into its royal history and explore the region’s numerous castles and palaces.
Sacra di San Michele
Sacra di San Michele is one of the most stunning buildings you’ll find in Piedmont. It was built between the 10th and 11th centuries in the Val di Susa on Mount Pichiriano. The Gothic-Romanesque abbey sits about 8 miles from Turin.
In the past, it acted as a monastery for the area’s Benedictine monks for around 600 years. Although not technically a castle or palace, Sacra di San Michele could very well pass for one. This huge, imposing structure looks like something straight out of a fairytale and is beautiful all year round.
One of Piedmont’s tourist attractions that are well worth visiting is the monumental Fenestrelle Fortress. Often referred to as “The Great Wall of Italy,” it overlooks the commune of Fenestrelle. The fort covers a total area of just over 500,000 square miles and is one of Europe’s most impressive Alpine fortresses.
The Savoy family built the current building between the 17th and 18th centuries, but the property’s history is believed to go back to the 16th century. The fort was used to protect Italy from invasion along the Italian-French border.
Fenestrelle Fort is a symbol of the Metropolitan City of Turin and was declared a Symbolic Monument of the Province of Turin in 1998.
Today, visitors can tour this impressive great wall and learn more about its crucial role in the history of this area. It makes for one of the best day trips from Turin as exploring the fort can take around seven hours.
Reggia di Venaria Reale
This UNESCO World Heritage Site, just eight miles from Turin, is one of the largest royal residences in Europe.
The luxurious royal palace is another one of Italy’s hidden gems, built-in 1675 by the Duke of Savoy, Charles Emmanuel II. After years of neglect, it underwent a massive 10-year renovation and reopened in 2007 to the public.
Today, Reggia di Venaria Reale has several exhibitions that take you through the history of the palace and the family that built it. There’s also an on-site cafe and an impressive garden where you can stroll around and take in the residence’s grandeur.
It’s also a great destination to go on a guided tour if you want to learn more during your experience.
Castello di Casalborgone
Dating back to the 10th century, this marvelous Italian castle has a rich history stretching through the ages. You’ll get to explore the stories of the noble families who lived at Castello di Casalborgone while touring the castle and discovering its impressive library, rooms, and lush gardens.
If you really want to feel like royalty, you can book a stay at one of the castle’s 11 elaborately decorated rooms and dine like a king or queen at the on-site restaurant.
Beautiful Places in Nature
Visit Lake Orta
Lying near the Swiss border, Lake Orta is a lovely body of water nestled among the Alps’ rocky foothills and lush green forest. It’s a lot less famous than the likes of Lake Como, Garda, and Maggiore, but that’s what makes it so unique.
It’s another one of the region’s hidden gems, and because it’s less explored, it’s the perfect place to be immersed in nature and just relax.
The area around the lake is home to Orta San Giulio – a charming Medieval town with quaint cobblestone streets, tiny piazzas, and buildings that have stood the test of time. The real highlight though is the small island that sits right in the middle of the lake — Isola San Giulio. It can be reached by a small ferry boat from Orta San Giulio.
Explore Gran Paradiso and Val Grande National Park
Gran Paradiso National Park sits between the regions of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta. It’s the oldest national park in Italy, founded in 1836 and covers a total area of 62,000 hectares which is divided into five major valleys.
It’s a lovely park with around 50 glaciers, 183 lakes, and 1,124 species of flora and fauna. The park is home to numerous hiking trails and is a great place to rest and fully immerse yourself in the beauty of this part of Italy.
Val Grande National Park, on the other hand, is Italy’s largest wilderness region, best known for its picturesque landscapes and vistas. It sits at the border of Italy and Switzerland and has some of the best views of the High Alps. The park is a popular hiking spot with avid hikers.
You can’t go wrong with a visit to either park. So if you have some time on your Piedmont spring itinerary then both national parks are great for a visit. Plus, they’re easy to get around on a self-guided tour.
Lake Maggiore, also known as Lake Verbano, is a large body of water located on the southern side of the Alps. The lake and its shoreline cross about 40 miles along Italy’s regions of Piedmont and Lombardy, and also the Swiss canton, Ticino.
It’s a popular vacation area with visitors enjoying the glorious scenery, the Borromean Islands, and the imposing Italian-Swiss Alps looming in the background. On a sunny day, you’ll find many people heading out to the Lido Baveno beach area and beach club, basking in the sun and cooling off in the waters nearby.
As the sun sets, it becomes quite a magical place to be as the sun glistens over Lake Maggiore, creating a kaleidoscope of colors on the water.
Other Things to Do Around Piedmont
Now that we’ve gotten into some of the best places to visit in Piedmont, let’s get into the list of activities you can look forward to.
Visit the National Museum of Automobiles
If you search for things to do in Piedmont, you’ll likely come across the suggestion of visiting the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile.
Since Turin is the birthplace of Fiat, it’s only natural that they would have a museum dedicated to cars. The museum is just 3 miles from downtown Turin and is home to over 200 automobiles.
If you’re a car enthusiast, you’ll enjoy a visit here. You’ll find everything from an 1892 Peugeot to a 1980 Ferrari 308. Spread across three floors, the museum delves into the history of cars and everything car-related.
TIP: If you want to save time waiting in queues, don’t forget to purchase your ticket beforehand.
Learn About the History of Film
Are you a film lover? Then a visit to the Museo Nazionale del Cinema is one of the most exciting things to do in Turin. Housed in the iconic Mole Antonelliana, this museum tour takes you through an epic tour of cinematic history through various exhibitions.
Some of the items found in the museum include Marilyn Monroe’s black lace bustier and Peter O’Toole’s robe from Lawrence of Arabia. There’s also a cinema that shows some art house films in English.
Visit the Juventus Museum and Watch a Game
Juventus FC is one of the much-loved soccer teams in Italy, and Turin is the home of this successful team. The team’s state-of-the-art stadium has a museum dedicated to it, which documents Juventus’ history and success.
On match days, the museum offers a viewing of the team’s preparations. After strolling through this incredible museum, why not watch a game and experience Turin’s beloved football culture?
Stop by the Egyptian Museum
Get ready to go back in time to ancient Egypt with a visit to this fantastic museum. The Egyptian Museum in Turin has one of the largest collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt.
Opened in 1824, it has an array of sphinxes, sarcophaguses, a vast papyrus collection and so much more on display. It’s a great way to learn about Egypt without traveling there.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Piedmont, Italy
Well, there you have it; a complete list of the best things to do in Piedmont. This fantastic region in the north of Italy is bustling with things to do. From truffle hunting to wine, chocolate, and food tasting, you’re spoilt for choice with activities in this region.
Ready to explore Piedmont? Why not join us on a 5 day small group tour and gastronomic journey through this lesser-known Italian region. Take a look at this spring Piedmont tour highlights video YouTube video that provides you with a sneak peek of what you can look forward to? If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, discover more in our Piedmont guide or tune into our podcast episode on Piedmont – a region full of charm and hidden gems to explore.