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Piedmont (which literally means land at the foot of the hills) is after Sicily the largest region of Italy, consisting of 8 provinces. Squaneto lies within the Alessandria province.
At the northern boundary Piedmont neighbors Switzerland, in the west France, in the south the Italian region of Liguria, the southeast Emilia-Romagna region, and in the east the Lombard region.
Three types of landscape determine Piedmont’s image: the Alps in the east and north (with the highest mountain of Piedmont, the Gran Paradiso at 13400 feet), the Po valley with its large cities, and the hilly regions of the southeast.
A comparison with other regions of Italy shows that the Piedmont area is not overly developed. The most important tourist areas are in the north at the Lago Maggiore and in the Langhe, where one can enjoy wine and truffles. Its capital, Torino, is a very elegant and charming city with a center in baroque style and beautiful store windows that entice you.
The hills of the Langhe region, south of Alba, where narrow winding roads denote the boundaries with Piedmont’s best vineyards, form the kingdom of the Barolo wine. Wine of the kings, king of the wines. This region is also famous in the rest of Europe for the delicious hazelnuts of the Ferrero factories, also known for their Nutella chocolate hazelnut sandwich spread, where they are grown and harvested. It is a wonderful drive between the ranks of the grapes on one side and the ranks of the hazelnuts on the other and the smells….
And then we move on to the delicious category of tasty mushroom specials: the famous white truffle, Il Tartufo Bianco. Both the white truffle and the wine draw gourmet lovers the world over to Alba, its center of cuisinary delights, especially in the fall when these delicacies are to be reaped and harvested, or bottled.
The wine villages around Alba (Barolo, La Morra, Neive, Monforte), the city of Alba itself and the city of Asti are also definitely worth a visit. Especially Asti, dating back to the Roman times, with its 14th century Duomo and the triangular Piazza Alfieri, is a quaint and interesting place to visit. On the piazza a wine market is held the end of September with a real palio. This horse race can certainly be compared to the palio of Siena as far as the level of competition is concerned, but because it is less famous, it is therefore less busy, and that becomes then an advantage.
East of the Langhe region is the Monferrato situated. It is the birthplace of Umberto Eco, the world renowned writer (The Name of the Rose, which was made into a film with Sean Connery in the lead role) and another productive wine area. The capital of Monferrato is Casale, a picturesque city where history, art, architecture, traditions and old crafts meet and greet each other.
The city of Alessandria was originally a road crossing in medieval times and from that capacity has grown into a melting point of trade and industry. Valenza is famous for its artistic jewellers and shops. Ovada, Tortona, Novi Ligure and, of course, Acqui Terme with their palaces, piazzas and churches are not to be missed, and do not forget to enjoy other pastimes such as their local flavours and goodies.