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The name Piedmonte literally means “at the foot of the mountains”, which definitely gives something away about its location.
Bordering Switzerland on the north and France on the west, it is basically surrounded by the Alps and Apennines and thus boasts some excellent skiing resorts such as Sestriere, Bardonecchia and Limone Piemonte.
It is not too far fetched to say that the region is a paradise for lovers of good food, wine and culture - we strongly recommend trying the esteemed white truffles or the wonderful Barolo red wine.
The main city of Turin, though known as an industrial powerhouse, is also an important centre of Baroque art and boasts some world class museums.
If it is skiing and trekking that you are looking for then the smaller but magnificent Valle D’Astoa region, blanketed as it is by Europe’s highest peaks Monte Blanc and the Matterhorn - is an earthly paradise, a picture postcard concoction of valleys, castles and spectacular scenery.
Gastronomy Basically, Piedmontese cuisine is delightful. On the one hand, the traditional dishes reflect the peasant culture, recipes with a few low-cost ingredients. On the other hand, there are other dishes that reflect the gastronomic evolution that took place in the kitchens of aristocratic palaces.
A place of honor is reserved for antipastos, matchless protagonists of dinners in Monferrato or Langhe. One of the favourite antipasto dishes is made up of anchovies, prepared in a red sauce with peppers or in a white sauce, with hazelnuts.
Then there are the cold cuts, tuna paté, eel, omelettes, boiled tongue, bagnetto verde, a sauce made with garlic, parsley and anchovies. And last but not least is bagna cauda, the "leading actor" of Piedmontese dishes.
It is a sauce into which you dip raw vegetables like thistle, celery, sweet peppers, cabbage, etc. Thin soups, minestrone, garlic soups, along with the ravioli and taglierini (thin egg noodles) are the famous first courses of this region.
The main courses include, boiled beef, roast and braised beef and veal, and an assortment of fried foods called fritto misto (comprised of sausage, fried brains, cream of wheat, and other ingredients.
Don’t forget the fabulous wines this regions produces – the full bodied Barolo and Nebbiolo readily come to mind. History The name of Piedmonte first appears at the of the 12th century and its long history is closely intertwined with the House of Savoy, the royal family who ruled Italy from 1870 up to their abdication in 1946.
The Savoy reached their apotheosis in the middle of the 16th century by a combination of military and diplomatic genius making Piemonte an extremely important region. In 1563, they officially made Turin the capital of Piemonte, in order to distance Savoy from the expansionist undercurrents of the French Kingdom.
In 1798 the region was occupied by Napoleon and King Vittorio Emanuele fled to Cagliari, the capital of the unoccupied island of Sardinia. The Napoleonic administration actually ushered in a period of modernity and organisation and progress.
Following the unification of Italy in 1864, and its loss of status and political was almost immediately mitigated by its emerging economic power and industrialization. It remains one of the most important economic regions in Europe to this day.
Culture - Monuments In Turin and in Susa interesting traces of the Roman Age can be found. The religious Romanesque-Gothic architecture is remarkable: splendid examples are the Abbey of Vezzolano, the Sacra di San Michele, the Abbey of Staffarda, St. Antonio di Ranverso, St. Andrea in Vercelli and other churches in Saluzzo, Chieri and Ciriè.
The Baroque style has greatly influenced the appearance of most Piedmontese cities, especially in Turin, capital of Dukedom of Savoy: Palazzo Carignano, Palazzo Madama, the majestic Castle of Stupinigi, the basilica of Superga, which rises on a hill near Turin are outstanding examples.
Activities In Turin the visitors should not miss a visit to the Royal Armory, one of the richest in Europe; the Egyptian Museum, the second most important in the world after the one in Cairo, with the precious remains of the ancient civilization, which built the Pyramids.
The Sabauda Gallery houses pictorial works of the Piedmontese, Dutch and Flemish schools, as well as some valuable works of the great Tuscans, such as the Beato Angelico and the Pollaiolo.
In Vercelli the Borgogna Museum, which houses the works of the local Renaissance painters; in Alessandria the Civic Museum and the Pinacoteca deserve a visit. Asti’s art-gallery houses both fifteenth-century and eighteenth-nineteenth century paintings. Cuneo's Civic Museum is especially reserved to the local history and artistic tradition.
In Novara an interesting Epigraphic Museum can be seen in the fifteenth-century cloister of the Cathedral.
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