Piedmont is Italian for “foot of the mountain”. The region in piedmont italy was originally occupied by the Celtic tribes which were then absorbed by the Romans. When the Celtic capital (Taurasia) was destroyed by Hannibal, the Romans rebuilt it but gave it a new street grid pattern that still characterizes Turin today.
When the Roman Empire fell, piedmont italy underwent the same fate that engulfed much of Italy at the time, hordes from the North and East kept invading the land. Among them was the French feudal family of Savoy which occupied Turin in the 11th century. The Savoy house took control again in the 13th century and went on to rule for another 500 years until the French Republican army fought and defeated it. After the fall of Napoleon’s empire, they returned to power and remained the ruling family until the end of world war two and the Italian Republic was born.
Piedmont was among the first Italian areas to embrace the industrial revolution and in the year 1899, the automotive maker Fiat was established in the area. This generated a modernization trend that involved even the most isolated communities and attracted workers from other Italian regions. The region’s traditional festivals and celebrations have always has strong military elements which were reflected in their sword dances. Other festivals in piedmont italy held the badie or abbeys tradition which were primarily historic lay male organizations. These organizations used to be armed and were charged with peace keeping among the people and the organization of public events.
With four DOCG areas and 46 different DOC areas, piedmont italy is the largest producer of well known, noble and world-renowned prize winning wines. These include Malvasia, Barolo, Barbera, Asti Spumante, Dolcetto, Barbaresco, Grignolino and Nebbiolo among others. Another distinct characteristic of the area is that most o its wines are produced on family estates which are made up of small parcels of land.
The main grape grown in the region is the Nebbiolo which is the base for famous wines like the Barbaresco, Barolo and Gattinara among others. The name is derived from the word nebbia (fog) because of its velvety whitish coating. This is in addition to the fact that it is grown in an area where at the ripening time in September, heavy morning fog and humidity is a given which provides the grapes an ideal habitat to thrive.
String red production is predominant in landlocked piedmont italy and the mountains are a perfect complement to the hearty and rich cuisine which features fonduta (a variation of the Swiss cheese fondue),white truffles, meats, rice, pastas and stuffed vegetables. Among the white wines, the Asti Spumante achieved national and indeed international fame thanks to Carlo Gancia. He learned the champagne method in Rheins, France then applied this knowledge and started experimenting with Moscato grapes.
The wine is considered to be a perfect complement to the rich pastries and fine chocolates like the spumone piemontese (a mouse of mascarpone cheese with rum or panna cotta, a smooth rich cream), the lingue di gatto, (cats tongue), the baci di dama (lady’s kisses) and the gianduiotti.
Another piedmont italy creation that went on to achieve worldwide fame is the Vermouth. First created by Benedetto Carpano in his small wine shop near the Turin Stock Exchange, this classic American martini cocktail derives its name from the most famous Italian dry vermouth producer, Martini & Rossi.