Piedmont, meaning foot of the mountains, is one of 20 Italian regions. The Alps wrap around it on three sides – nearly half the province is mountainous; the remainder occupies the upper basin of the Po river. The Po rises in the west and collects the water of the Alps and Apennines before flowing east to the Adriatic. Around the river are rice paddies, irrigated by canals; elsewhere cattle-grazing, cereals and wine are produced; it is home to the Terra Madre and Slow Food movements. The area around Turin is has Fiat factories and other industries. The via Francigena runs through softer landscape as it descends towards the Po river.

History of Piedmont

Piedmont was a Celtic area before the Romans occupied it and founded Augusta Taurinorum (later Turin, the capital). After the Romans, Burgundians, Byzantines, LOmbards and Franks disputed the area. It became part of the Duchy of Savoy, and later the capital was moved to Turin. After a short French occupation, Piedmont led the way in the unification of Italy and Turin briefly became the capital.

Interesting Places in Piedmont


Montestrutto is a pretty village with a private castle on a rocky peak. Nearby is a popular adventure area with climbing pitches and routes up low cliffs and boulders.

Montalto Dora Castle

Montalto Dora Castle is a 12th C castle battlemented castle with round towers, once belonging to the Bishop of Ivrea. Recently restored and now open to the public, it is sometimes home to processions and pageants.

Settimo Vittone

Settimo Vittone is a commune with an ancient church with a bell tower and a baptistery of St Lawrence. It has 11th – 15th C frescoes but the church dates from the 9th C.


Chiaverano is a small commune clinging to the terraced valley side with a Romansque church of St Stefano and a castle of San Guiseppe.


Ivrea has a castle, a Romanesque/Baroque cathedral with frescoes and several museums. The old bridge, Ponte Vecchio dates to 100 AD. The Battle of the Oranges carnival takes place 40 days before Easter.

Lago de Viverone

Lago de Viverone is a large lake below Ivrea Greenhouse, a moraine ridge reputedly the largest in Europe; the via Francigena runs by the lake.

San Pietro at Bollengo

San Pietro at Bollengo is a simple brick and stone church with a round apse and a tall bell-tower, no longer in use, by the side of the route close to the village and bridge at Bollengo.


Roppolo Castle is on the edge of the Ivrea moraine in the small village of Roppolo.

San Germano Vercellese

San Germano Vercellese is a tiny village with a railway and a large Romanesque church in the middle of a rice growing area.


Vercelli‘s cathedral has a library with several ancient manuscripts including the Lombard legal code, and an old English book of poems.

Vercelli’s Basilica di Sant’Andrea

Vercelli’s Basilica di Sant’Andrea is a beautiful Romanesque church erected in 1219. The doorways and rose window are magnificent.


The discover Italy website gives details of the five stages or 82km of the route in Piedmont, plus transport to and from the route. The route through the province is signed with Via Francigena signs and all stages are easy.

Two lists of accommodation are available here.


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