The region of Piemonte, Northern Italy, is proud to present three must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites for 2017: The Wine Landscapes of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato, The Royal Residences and the Sacred Mountains.
Piemonte (or Piedmont) is the largest region in Italy after Sicily with a population of over four million residents. Easily accessible from Milan by train or car, Piemonte’s capital, Torino (or Turin), serves as the gateway to these UNESCO World Heritage sites:
The Wine Landscapes of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato is a unique area where the powerful relationship between man and landscape is on full display. These gentle slopes hide a multitude of small gems from ancient villages to majestic castles. The vineyards home to these hills produce some of the best wines on Earth. The zone classified by UNESCO covers almost twenty-five different wines from grapes classified as 80 DOC (Controlled Origin Denomination) and 36 DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Origin Denomination). Piemonte’s top varietals such as Barolo and Barbaresco continue to receive international acclaim as some of the world’s best wines.
The Royal Residences’ construction began in 1562, when the Duke of Savoy moved his capital to Torino. The site today boasts sumptuous gardens and offers visitors a step back in time to the days of refined court life and Savoy House hegemony. The Royal Residences number fifteen buildings in total, which were designed and embellished by the leading architects and artists of the time. In 1851, the first queen of Italy was born at the Royal Palace–one of the many locations open now to touring visitors. From the palaces of Torino to the decadent residences and hunting lodges of the countryside, visitors can experience the splendor of seventeenth century lavish court life at Piemonte’s Royal Residences.
The Sacred Mountains of Piemonte and Lombardia are groups of chapels that were constructed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The phenomenon of the Sacred Mountains began with the aim of creating places of prayer in Europe as an alternative to the Holy Land of Jerusalem. In addition to their symbolic spiritual meaning, the Sacred Mountains are of great physical beauty– effortlessly integrated into the surrounding natural landscape of hills, forests and lakes. Each Sacred Mountain is unique but all offer visitors the opportunity to admire ancient architecture, appreciate colorful frescos and stand beside life-size statues that have remained preserved for centuries.
In addition to Piemonte’s rich cultural offering of UNESCO world heritage sites, visitors can also enjoy world-class museum exhibits, alpine skiing and outdoor activities, lively events and sizzling shopping—all in the same day!
Torino, the ancient capital of Italy, boasts abundant baroque architecture and a world-renowned Egyptian Museum. The museum’s extensive exhibit has been named the world’s most important outside of Egypt and serves as an ideal stop after a day of shopping in the city.
For families, couples and ski-enthusiasts looking for their next alpine thrill, Piemonte’s Alps are not to be missed. In winter, the region’s mountains are transformed into what has been dubbed the “White Galaxy”, an immense system of ski stations that offer skiers and snowboarders nearly a thousand miles of runs to choose from.
This week, from December 10th to 11th, the Ladies Ski World Cup 2016 returns to Sestriere—only a few kilometers from Torino and easily accessed by bus or train. The Via Lattea (or Milky Way) ski area that hosted Torino Olympics in 2006 will officially open during the World Cup as the event not only plays host to top athletes from around the globe but also serves as the official kick off to the 2016/2017 ski season in Piemonte.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Piemonte offers hiking trails for all experience levels. Perfect to combine after a day of skiing, visitors can explore the nearby Alpine fortresses of Exilles and Fenestrells or discover Italy’s “Great Wall of China”— a two-mile long wall hidden in the Olympic Mountains. Serious hikers might consider trekking the entire length of the Alps in Piedmont using the 620 miles of paths and mule tracks complete with fully equipped mountain refuges at the end of each stage.
A perfect ending to a perfect day, visitors often find themselves on the shores of Lake Maggiore where they can enjoy views of the dazzling blue lake and picturesque villages. Lake Maggiore’s popularity began in 1800 when Napoleon commissioned a highway from Geneva to Milan. Europeans from far and wide discovered its perfect climate for building villas and gardens, turning the lake’s fishing villages into holiday retreats. Today, Lake Maggiore offers fantastic woodland walks with panoramic lake views, botanical gardens, churches, markets and much more for Piemonte’s visitors to explore.