Consult our latest Piemonte travel articles which take you from Lake Maggiore to Alba, Asti, Bra and Barolo before continuing to Turin and south to the Po Valley.
Turin is an extraordinarily interesting city with a very rich history. More than you could possibly imagine before going there. It flourished in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries as the centre of the Savoy Kingdom and capital of the Baroque before becoming Italy’s first capital in 1861. The impressive royal heritage of palaces such as Palazzo Reale, churches, squares and grand 'corsi' lined with 18 km of porticoes were designed to protect the nobles against the elements.
The surrounding mountains, hills, lakes and plains all feel close despite the industrial legacy still most evident in the form of the Lingotto, Fiat’s former factory, hailed at the time as “the cathedral of technology”. Turin is also Italy’s modern and contemporary art capital and home to Italian cinema, and also Eataly. Right in the centre, dominating the cityscape, is Turin’s extravagant and famous landmark, the “Mole Antonelliana” an example of engineering as art and home to the Cinema Museum.
Between the Piemontesi & chocolate there is a 350 year old love affair and it's no coincidence that the region and Turin have both played a leading role in the Italian chocolate industry. This is evidenced by the presence of some of the largest confectionary companies in Italy and indeed the world.
The carnival of Ivrea is one of Italy's most spectacular thanks to one enterprising ingredient - the Battle of the Oranges. Three days of build up and offically sanctioned violence are 'organised' when the squares and piazze are turned into battle grounds between 9 competing teams and 3000 people.
The origin of the madness goes back to a legendary people's revolt against Count Ranieri of Biandrate and is based on liberty and freedom of expression. Before the battle on the Sunday of Carnival, the populace are fed with free beans, perhaps to sustain them during the rigors of battle.
The signal for the festival to begin is the holding aloft of a child by each of the 4 quarters of the town. Although not as dangerous as running with the bulls at Pamplona, on a cold day it has been known for many of the oranges to freeze like golf balls.
The site is fantastic and has great photos as well as text in English.www.carnevalediivrea.com
These simple carnival sweets found across the Italian regions are more than probably named after the word 'castagna' or chestnut. When done they are similar in size and colour to your average conker. We have decided to locate this recipe in Piemonte due to the two towns of Castagnole Piemonte in the province of Turin and Castagnole Monferrato in the province of Asti.
400gr flour, 4 dessert spoons of olive oil, 3 eggs, 4 dessert spoons of sugar, 1 lemon rind, 2 spoons of rum or cognac, 1 spoon of yeast in water.
THE BORROMEO ISLANDS
Isola Pescatori is the fisherman's island and the smallest. Full of narrow and ancient alleys it's a place for lunch.
Isola Madre or mother island is the largest and described as a huge floating botanical garden with plants from around the world. Don't tread on the peacocks.
Isola Bella, the island of beauty, is home to the Borromeo Palace and Italian terraced gardens.
Bagna caôda is a dish of garlic, anchovies and olive oil which is served hot with vegetables in season such as peppers, cauliflower, celery or potatoes. It is neither a first nor second course, but certainly a real stomach filler and served in a manner which resembles the French fondue; small terracotta containers are placed in the middle of the table that are filled with a spiced salsa and warmed by a candle underneath. The participants then dip their food in the hot sauce to cook and flavor it.
How sardines came to feature in one of the region's signature dishes is a real question, especially when you find them in the local markets totally out of context from the usual typical food products of Piemonte. The medieval salt trade from Provence in France and commercial taxe evasion are the reasons.
Three good reasons for visiting the provincial capital of Piemonte? The home of Fiat; of course! 'Juventus', Italy's most supported football team; maybe not! And the third ... Well, we like the delightful cafés and pasticcerie or cake shops where you can sit in elegant surroundings and taste the good life as it must have been 100 years ago. Take your pick from the coffee bars listed below. We tried them all.
recipe for eggnog with beer to accompany cookies and cakes
4 egg yolks, 120 gr sugar, 2 dl. clear sweet or double malt beer, 1 sachet of vanilla.
Separate the yolk from the white of the eggs and add the former into a glass bowl.
Mix with the sugar until a homogeonous and voluminous texture has been achieved. Pour the beer into this and amalgamate it with care.
Place the bowl into boiling water 'a bagnomaria' and cook the mixture with a hand whisk until such time the zabaione takes on a creamy texture.
When it is sufficiently consistent, but not allowing it to reach boiling point, remove from the heat.
Serve the zabaione warm on slices of your favorite Italian cake.
See also Turin coffee bar for a taste of chocolate and zabaione