Piedmont (Turin) - Northern Regions

"Piedmont (Turin) - Northern Regions" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 28th April 2011

Piedmont means " at the feet of the mountains", describing the geographical position. Origins of this name come from the Middle ages, but for a long period it indicated only a little part of the territory, not all the region. Its surface is 25 399 sq.km (9807 sq.miles) (8.4%), population 4 391 000 inhabitants (7.5%), density of population 169 inhab./sq.km.

The positive factors in life organization in Piedmont are climate, plenty of agricultural plain and hill land, wealth of water thanks to the presence of Alpine relief. Among the negative factors are scarce quantity of the mineral resources and cultivable spaces in the mountain parts of the region.
Piemonte in northern region.JPG
The first human settlements on the territory of Piedmont appeared during the Neolithic, nearly 7000 years ago, but only after the II century b.C., i.e. as a sequence of the occupation by Romans, the real arrangement of the regional space took place. Romans were interested in controlling of the region mostly because of its bordering position with Gaul. So, they built roads, founded cities, enforced urban and agricultural systems, etc.

Nevertheless the landscape remained the same, and only in X-XII centuries a.C., as a result of the population increase, numerous hill and mountain forests were transformed in camps, meadows and vineyards. In XIII-XIV centuries in Saluzzese and Novarese was created the irrigation channels system.

In XV century in Turin, Biellese, Chierese, Pinerlo, Asti, Vercelli appeared the first textile and mining manufactures, the basement of the future industrial development. At the same time in lower eastern plain of Piedmont was initiated cultivation of rice, which came here from the close Lombardy. 100 years later the new agricultural plants imported from America (maize, bean, pepper, tomato and potato) started to be cultivated.

The first period of industrialization in Piedmont took place in the end of XIX-beginning of XX centuries. Here the artisan traditions and plenty of hydroelectrical energy created the ideal conditions for growing industry, such as the textile production in Biellese.

Giving a look at the territory organization of the region at the moment, should be noticed the difference between two parts of Piedmont: the mountain part of it is poor and less inhabited (with the exception of the touristic zones); the hill and plain parts are richer and more populated, with well developed specialized agriculture and various industries.



Man and Territory Economy and Resources

Archeology and Art


III-II millenium b.C.: Piedmont is inhabited by the Ligurian peoples. Around I millenium Celt-Gallic peoples came from north and Ligurians moved to south.

Roman Epoch
(from II century b.C.)

New organization of life brought by Romans
Construction of road net,  foundation of the cities Tortona (Dertona), Ivrea (Eporedia), Turin (Augusta Taurinorum).
Necropolis of Pollenzo

Middle Ages
(V - XV centuries)

Continuous barbaric invasions. After XI century among different feudalists the house of Savoy began to dominate.
General decline of the region
Numerous religious constructions: Sacra di San Michele, abbey of Vezzolano, cathedral of Casale.

(XV - XVI centuries)

The power of Savoy is growing. After 1562, Turin became the capital of Savoy state.
Gradual uprising of the economy and progressive increase of value of the agricultural territory, thanks to the important irrigation works. Some textile manufactures began their activity.
The blooming of art especially in capital city of Turin. The greatest architect of 17th century is Guarino Guarini.

Modern Ages (XVII-XVIII)

In 1713 the dukes of Savoia completed the conquest of the region, in 1718 was obtained the possession of Sardinia (from Austria), Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoia was nominated the king of Sardinia.
Introduction of the rice cultivation, imported from the East. First usage of water as an energy source for the mills and production of paper and textile.
Baroque style in architecture started by the architect Filippo Juvarra in Turin.

XIX - XX centuries

Being annexed together with Piedmont to France during the Napoleonic period, in 1814 Piedmont returns to Savoia, defending the heart of Italian revival. On March 14, 1861 Vittorio Emanuele II was proclaimed the king of Italy; Turin was chosen as the first capital of united Italy.
New progresses in agriculture, in communication (railways) and industries. In 1899 was founded Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino). Thousands of working hands are called to Turin especially from the south of Italy. The metropolitan area of Turin became one of the most populated in Europe. At the same time depopulation and impoverishment of the Alpine valleys is intensificated.

piedmont map


January: 1.3 C

July: 20.8 C


Piedmont, the first among continental regions by extention of its territory, is closed between the central Alps and Liguria's Apennines, and occupies the western part of the river Po's plain. Borders on France (west), Valle d'Aosta and Switzerland (north), Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna (east), Liguria (south).


The climate in valley and mountain zone is Alpine; in plain and hill zones it is continental, with cold winters and foggy and hot enough summers.


Piedmont represents three types of landscapes: 1.mountain zone; 2.hill zone; 3.plain zone.
The mountain zone is composed of ample line of Apennines and long stretch of Alps in the semicircle form, inside of which there are numerous valleys (Cuneese, Pellice, Chisone, Susa, Ossola). This territory of poor agricultural possibilities was rapidly depopulated during last decades.
The hill zone occupies central-southern part of the region and is composed of the hills of Po, Monferrato and Langhe. Here is common the little farm property producing and trading some of the most famous kinds of wine in Europe.
The plain zone occupies the part of Po's plain divided by this river in two. In Vercellese and Novarese cultivation of rice is conducted by some big companies with the help of machines. The higher parts of this zone are poor of water and thus - not fertile.
On Piedmont's territory located two quite big lakes: Maggiore and Orta; the smaller lakes attract tourists (Viverone, Candia, Avigliana, etc.).


plain: 27%

hill: 30%

mountain: 43%


Total: 9 000 000

Italians: 77%

Foreigners: 23%


Piedmont is supplied with a rich network of roads, highways and railways with mountain passes and tunnels. Particular importance have 5 highways: Turin-Ivrea-Aosta, Turin-Milan, Turin-Savona, Turin-Piacenza, Genoa-Voltri-Gravellona Toce.

Agriculture and breeding.

The principle cultures growing in Piedmont are: rice (plains of Vercelli, Novara, Alessandria); wines (Alessandrina, Asti, Cuneese and Novara) considered to be some of the best in Italy; cheese and cereals. The other resources is breeding of cattle and elaboration of wood. The highly esteemed products of the Cuneese lands are: white truffle, nut, walnut and chestnut.


agriculture: 5%

industry: 40%

commerce: 55%



44 000 000 kWh


6 350 000 kWh



128 000 000 kWh


2 400 000 kWh


The most important industries of the region are mechanics and electronics, plus ancient artisan traditional productions, they give more than a half of the region income. Its main products come from Fiat of Turin (cars, industrial vehicles, motors, agricultural machines, etc.) and from Olivetti di Ivrea (type-writers, calculators, computers). The other active sectors are chemical (rubber, artificial fibre and synthetic); food (fats, chocolates, liqueur, biscuits, torrone); textile (wool of Biella); clothing (hats of Alessandria); jewels; publishing, etc.


During the years of immigration from the country south connected with the possibility of work the population of Piedmont increased, but in last years the situation changed to normal for the industrial regions like Piedmont, and people tend to get married later and have only 1-2 children in family. The other characteristics of the new way of living is a tendency to urbanization: per every 100 persons resident in Piedmont, 38 live in a town with more than 50 000 inhabitants.

Births (per 1000)

Italy: 9.9


Deaths (per 1000)

Italy: 9.3

Piedmont: 11.3


Italy: 0.6

Piedmont: -3.8

Inhabitants per car

Italy 2.0

Piedmont: 1.7


In Piedmont conditions of life change from one zone to the other and the welfare is distributed not equally. In classification of the average product per inhabitant, this region stands behind of Lombardia, Valle d'Aosta and Emilia-Romagna. Here people read quite little, but the quantity of graduates is quite high in comparison with other part of Italy (11,3%). The quality of public service in Piedmont is not high, especially in medical sphere. Should also be noticed the strong increase of the cost of life in last decades, especially in Turin, which became one of the most expensive cities of Italy.

Provinces and communes


Piedmont is divided in 6 provinces: Turin, Alessandria, Asti, Biella, Cuneo, Novara, Verbano, Vercelli; with 1209 communes. The other two provinces of Biella and Verbania are new. The first one is important as an industrial center, the second is noted for the great role of tourism in it (Intra and Pallanza).

Monthly income

per inhabitant

1 600 000 It.Liras

 (800 US Dollars)

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