Some ideas to organise perfect holidays in Piedmont and to get to know its territory day by day!
Fingers caress the keys of a piano, light notes create harmonious melodies: “Resta con me” by Ludovico Einaudi, composer and master in the art of making the soul travel through music, embodies the essence of his land: Piedmont.
A land of boundless hills that evolve into lofty Alpine peaks, between Monviso and Monte Rosa, where the ancient farming traditions and signs of the hard work of past generations have forged the culture of a glorious people. From the beautiful Turin, once also the capital of Italy, to the verdant Langhe, the golden Monferrato to the Lake Orta and Lake Maggiore, and then the castles, picturesque villages, farmsteads, rice paddies and immense food and wine heritage.
Tracing the paths of Piedmont step by step, little by little, will allow you to build a unique melody that has the unmistakable scents of barrels full of wine, of the soil wet in the morning and of freshly baked biscuits.
Slow the pace and discover the best things to do in Piedmont!
Excellent food and wine will not be the only attractions of Piedmont: the need to experience “slow” days, where time is slow and the environment is familiar, suits Sunday trips or relaxing weekends.
On the other hand, there are plenty of itineraries to follow and they embrace everyone’s tastes and needs: rediscovering UNESCO World Heritage sites, venturing along the CAI trails or re-establishing contact with nature that involves even the youngest visitors. In this area, every season is at its best: that’s why holidays in Piedmont are always a great idea!
Let’s discover the best tourist attractions together… 👇
All the ideas for day trips to explore Piedmont attractions:
THE LANGHE AND ROERO
Two territories divided by the passage of the Tanaro river, so similar that they share the beauty of their landscapes, food and wine culture and centuries-old traditions. In the Cuneo area, between Alba and La Morra, the Tanaro divides the clay soil, giving life to the Nebbiolo that will become Barolo or Barbaresco. Wine, here, is a sacred thing, so much so that in La Morra they have dedicated a colourful chapel to Barolo (never consecrated), which is worth visiting, as well as the Grinzane Castle. There Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, stored the must in closed vats, used sulphur as a preservative and waited until 1844 to taste the first vintage of Barolo. In Pollenzo, a hamlet of Bra and cradle of Gastronomic Sciences, fans of the red nectar will be able to view some historic bottles in the Wine Bank. Traditional cuisine takes root at the modern apericena, which originated as a necessity on the return to the fields, when the board of cold cuts and cheese was known as “Merenda Sinoira”. Dinner evolves with the typical Agnolotti del Plin, Tajarin with truffles or the famous Vitello tonnato paired with a good glass of red Freisa.
In the High Langhe, the hazelnut groves catch the filtered light of the autumn sun, a season full of colours and perfect for morning walks in the company of an expert truffle hunter and his trusty companion in search of the prized Alba Truffles. On the other hand, the peasant culture is the soul of this territory, as seen by writer Beppe Fenoglio but also by writer Cesare Pavese, a native of Santo Stefano Belbo (his house-museum can still be visited). For a complete overview of the immense beauty of these places, a hot-air balloon flight in Mondovì will be the perfect moment to soar through the clear skies of December days.
Between the Monferrato and Langhe regions, there is no shortage of opportunities to dedicate oneself entirely to the well-being of the body, thanks to the precious thermal springs of Acqui Terme. The mineral properties of the deep waters of these springs are beneficial for dermatological as well as respiratory purposes. It is therefore possible to choose between curative paths or simply devote time to the Roman Path, active all year round!
In Monferrato, the territory is rich in art, nature, excellent wines and inimitable flavours. Green and sunny hills inspire trips and walks among the vineyards that can surprise visitors through art: this is the case of the “Vigna dei Pastelli” in Coazzolo, which can be observed along with the panorama from the Giant Bench #26. Around Asti, you can visit the handcrafted barrel buildings after visiting the underground cathedrals dug into the tuff called “Infernot“, guardians of fine vintages, spread over 14 municipalities in the Monferrato region. The wine here takes on many declinations: you can taste Barbera, Fresa, Albugnano, Grignolino, Dolcetto, Gragnano and, why not, hazard the best pairings with truffle dishes (white or black truffle, as there are at least nine types in this area). The town of Casale Monferrato, shrouded in mist, has a special charm that enhances its architecture. In the streets, the smell of Crumiri biscuits brings back childhood memories: eggs, butter and a lot of skill are the ingredients that have been giving consistency to the “King’s moustache”, from which they inherit their shape, since 1870.
A huge monumental complex dating back to medieval times is the Abbey of Santa Maria Staffarda, in the municipality of Staffarda di Ravello. Originally belonging to the Cirstercense order and later to the Mauritian order, it presents itself to visitors with a structure that breaks the monotony of monastic constructions. Open-air spaces such as the silent internal cloister alternate with places dedicated to monastic life such as the refectory and dormitory, as well as those dedicated to prayer such as the Church, in a simple style but rich in valuable figurative arts. It is worth visiting by choosing the alternative route that leads from Cuneo to Turin.
THE CASTLES & RESIDENCES OF THE ROYAL HOUSE OF SAVOY
Piedmont counts among its UNESCO sites the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy. They are the result of the taste and commitment of the Savoy royal family who gave new light to ancient castles and mansions from the 16th century onwards. Many of these sites are located in Turin, such as Palazzo Madama, Villa della Regina, Palazzo Carignano or the Royal Palace of Turin, while others are located on the outskirts of the city. The castles rising in the hills between the Langhe and Monferrato had a defensive function, they were strongholds and then noble residences. Among the most beautiful ones to visit, there are certainly the Castello della Mandria in Venaria Reale, the Palazzina di caccia in Stupinigi or the Castello Reale in Racconigi, but also the Castello di Pollenzo. A visit to one of these historical places creates the perfect opportunity to spend unique holidays in Piedmont and discover its territory. Don’t miss the Castello del Barolo, the Castello di Montemagno, the Castello di Serralunga d’Alba and finally the Castello di Castiglione Falletto.
SACRED MOUNTAINS OF PIEDMONT
A pilgrimage is a choice of faith, but those who set out to visit the Sacri Monti (Sacred Mountains), found among Piedmont’s most beautiful heights, also do so to reconnect with the nature that surrounds these mystical UNESCO World Heritage sites. Among the most beautiful and rich in art is the Sacro Monte of Varallo, an immense monumental garden dotted with no less than 45 chapels, squares, fountains and the imposing Basilica. The “Devoto cammino dei Sacri Monti del Piemonte” combines 29 stages that cross the Alps in a mystical pilgrimage passing through Varese, Orta, Ghiffa, Belmonte, Crea. It is up to you to decide where to start and how to continue, considering visiting each of the Sacred Mountains one trip at a time!
ALPI MARITTIME NATURE PARK
Twinned with France’s Parc National du Mercantour, the Alpes Maritimes Natural Park covers an area of 28,000 hectares with important peaks, including the Argentera and the Gelàs Group, which can be reached by experienced hikers. You can delight in the mountain bike trails and, as with many other Alpine destinations, you can treat yourself to refreshments in one of the ten refuges present. The park is a favourite destination for your holidays in Piedmont, as well as for families who want to enjoy a picnic in the specially equipped areas without stressing too much. There is a very convenient shuttle service, if you don’t feel like driving.
This small village in the Cuneo area was the home of the illustrator of Pinocchio, Attilio Mussino. This is why, walking through the narrow streets of the village, the story of the puppet takes shape on colourful murals, paying homage to the “uncle of Pinocchio”. Children will be surprised at the sight of the silhouettes of the characters from Collodi’s fairy tale looking out from balconies and arcades. Of course, a visit to the Museum dedicated to Mussino is a must, but it is also possible to take a walk through the green hills to the remains of the Tourusela Castle.
THE SUSA VALLEY
Not too far from Turin, the Susa Valley is the perfect destination for a weekend of nature. Starting from Mount Pirchiriano, the Abbey of San Michele della Chiusa, better known as the Sacra di San Michele, inspired Umberto Eco for his novel “The Name of the Rose” because of its irresistible medieval charm. At the foot of this mountain, it is possible to venture into the Avigliano Lakes Natural Park. The presence of the Fort of Exilles in the valley is what one would expect to find in a border land: the mystery of the prisoner identified as the “Iron Mask” still hovers around it today. At Claviere, a long Tibetan Bridge will challenge the courage of the most daring, crossing the Gorge di San Gervasio on the border with France. In the Northern Cottian Alps, adults and children will be delighted to spend a whole day at the Gran Bosco di Salbertrand Nature Park, admiring deer, chamois and numerous plant species, breathing in the fresh air of the Susa Valley.
THE FENESTRELLE FORTRESS
Perhaps you do not know that, in Val Chisone, an ancient protective complex recalls faraway China: nicknamed “the great wall of Piedmont“, better known as the Fenestrelle Fort, it is actually a set of fortifications connected by a covered staircase as many as 4000 steps long. The main structures are the San Carlo Fort, the Governor’s Palace, the Officers’ Palace, the Military Quarters, the Royal Gate used for the entrance of the royals, the 28 artillery emplacements arranged in tiers called “Risalti” that reach as far as the slopes of Fort Tre Denti. Beating the places where soldiers defended the territory is possible thanks to the volunteers who keep this fortress alive, which can also be visited thanks to the Torino Musei season ticket. You can choose the itinerary that best suits your needs, from a few hours to a full day. You can also have lunch at about 1800 metres, amidst history and beautiful scenery!
At the foot of Monte Rosa, between Piedmont and Aosta Valley, there are villages where time seems to have crystallised. These are the Walser villages, whose people of Germanic origin still live according to culinary traditions, ways of doing things and times quite different from the hectic pace of the cities. A trip to these delightful villages is sure to regenerate your spirit by following the principles of sustainability and harmony with the environment. The small village of Rimella is home to the oldest Walser Museum in Piedmont. But there is also Macugnaga, Alagna Valsesia or Formazza, the first to have served as a refuge for the Walser population.
Turin, the capital of this wonderful region, has the charm of art that envelops and ennobles it. Visiting Turin in its entirety takes time, but if you want to treat yourself to day trips, you could visit the Basilica of Superga, the Egyptian Museum, the historical cafés where you can enjoy hot chocolate or bicerin, the Museum of Cinema and the Mole Antonelliana.
For a bird’s-eye view over the entire city, you could go to the National Mountain Museum. In addition to the permanent exhibition with almost half a million items dedicated to great mountaineers, you can climb to the top floor of the building whose terraces will give you a magnificent view.
Vercelli is a city shrouded in the gloomy charm that matches the austerity of the beautiful Basilica of Sant’Andrea, whose four towers emphasise its grandeur. Its main façade, aquamarine in colour, is unique and recalls the colour of the great dome of the Cathedral of Sant’Eusebio. Besides visiting the historical centre and the Fish Market, you can learn a lot about the rice culture that has dominated Vercelli for over a century. The most cultivated rice varieties are Baldo, Maratelli, Sant’Andrea, as well as the better known Carnaroli, Arborio or Venere. The plains of the rice fields are certainly suggestive, but they are rich in history and forged by the toil of the mondine (rice weeders). Organising a trip or an educational outing for children in these places is an experience that has much to teach.
A city of passage when travelling on your way to neighbouring Lombardy, Novara is certainly a possible destination for an excursion that will first of all make you appreciate the city from a favourite spot: climbing up the spire of the Basilica of San Gaudenzio, you will find yourself in a small Antonellian mole. Descending through the streets of the centre, the smell of Novara biscuits will take you inside the Camporelli biscuit factory that has been operating since 1852. Not far from the centre, the Coccia Theatre, the oldest opera house in Piedmont, will delight you with ballets, operas and cultural events.
IVREA AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
In upper Piedmont, Olivetti made its fortune in the typewriter industry, so much so that its profits helped create an entire architectural style. This is how the old town of Ivrea distinguished itself from the industrial town, which today can be visited in the form of MAM, the Open-Air Museum of Modern Architecture. In the historical centre, you can take a walk along the Naviglio canal that springs from the Dora Bàltea river, taste a Torta Novecento, admire the Sabaudo Castle or the Tallinati Tower, and take a tour of the historical market. Nearby, Montalto Dora and Borgofranco di Ivrea support landscapes and nature trails suitable for all ages: The Castle of Montalto Dora creates a medieval atmosphere suitable for a picnic in the area below. In the afternoon, a walk in the Archaeological Park of Lake Pistono will take you to a marvellous panorama to be enjoyed comfortably seated on a giant bench. Continuing on, a junction will point the way to the Terre Ballerine path, where you will be able to jump over layers of seemingly elastic terrain to reach Lake Sirio.
Not far from Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta offers fun as well as relaxation. On the northern side, Omegna is famous for being the birthplace of writer Gianni Rodari, to whom it has dedicated the Parco della Fantasia and the Rodari Museum. At Bagnella, you can take a leap into the blue by trying the ZIPline, which gives you a “free” overview for 450 metres. There is no shortage of nature trails around the lake, discovering streams and waterfalls such as those of the Qualba. Near Pella, the Monte San Giulio Panoramic Terrace is perfect for admiring Isola San Giulio, its beautiful basilica and Punta Movero (at the opposite end of the lake). On the little island, meditation paths follow in the footsteps of the Benedictine nuns on the island. Gourmet experiences take place at Villa Crespi, a romantic location for a star-studded dinner!
A trip to Lake Maggiore is a winning idea in all seasons, which change, always transforming the landscape into something new and magical. The largest of Piedmontese lakes is home to the Borromean Islands, including Isola Bella, Isola Madre with its Borromeo Castle and Isola dei Pescatori, located between Stresa and Verbania. The area around the lake is dotted with amazing villages and hamlets presided over by historic residences, ancient castles and aristocratic residences. In Stresa, the Zoological Park borders the lake, which can be appreciated from the windows of Villa Pallavicino. Near Cannobio, the Castles of Cannero, fortifications that literally emerge from the water, can be seen in the lake. On the southern side, Rocca Borromea di Angera not only provides a view of the lake from above but also houses the Museum of Dolls and Toys. There is also the possibility of taking a boat trip while enjoying an aperitif of alpine cheese and honey!
BORDER WITH THE CANTON OF TICINO
In the Lepontine Alps, the border with Canton of Ticino is an area of Piedmont worth spending several days in for a complete holiday of trekking, hiking, alpine pastures and lakes. Almost at the border, the Toce waterfalls are a majestic spectacle that leaves you open-mouthed: the immense flow of water runs down the rocky walls and if you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse of the rainbow!
THE ZEGNA OASIS
Suitable for a spring outing but also attractive in autumn for shots of the beautiful foliage, the Oasi Zegna is a magnificent garden in the Biella region. The path is 26 kilometres long above Trivero and is embellished by majestic fields of pink and purple rhododendrons, daffodils and flowers of all kinds. There are many trekking itineraries that wind their way to Alta Valsessera, ranging from easy, family-friendly trails to the more strenuous ones conceived by Ermenegildo Zegna in the broader project to build (back in the 1930s) a Panoramic Road connecting Monte Rosa, Trivero, Valle Cervo and Alta Valsessera.
In winter, Piedmont has a lot to offer, and alpine skiers are spoilt for choice: the Via Lattea -Sestriere ski area is the one with the most ski lifts (69); Monte Rosa Ski is on the border with Valle d’Aosta, and the nearby ski resorts of Macugnaga and Alagna Valsesia can be added. Bardonecchia is in the Susa Valley on the French border, while in lower Piedmont there are the Riserva Bianca-Limone lifts. There is also a smaller ski lift in Monviso, but you could visit the Piana del Re below and catch a glimpse of the source of the Po River.
Our travel tips on the best things to do in Piedmont end here, although new discoveries are always just around the corner. We wish you pleasant holidays in Piedmont! 🧳