Piedmont (meaning "foot of the mountain") is Italy's second-biggest region, after Sicily, and, like that island, it belongs to what's most remarkable about Italy. 43 per cent of its territory is covered by mountains (the Alps), 30 is made up by hills, and 24 by plains. This makes Piedmont one of the most diverse parts of Europe in terms of landscape. Being located in the North-West of the country, it borders on France and Switzerland. Culturally, it is a combination of various elements as well. Historically, it has always been closely linked to the South of France, and there are Franco-Proven├žal and Occitan speaking minorities in Piedmont.

Turin (Torino) is the region's capital. The city's population is close to a million (metropolitan area: two million). In 28 BC the Romans founded it as Castra Taurinorum.

A lot of ancient landmarks from different periods have survived - like the Palatine Towers, which used to be a part of the Roman city wall. Turin's most famous symbol probably is the Mole Antonelliana, which was built as a synagogue in the late nineteenth century. Now it houses the National Museum of Cinema. With its four-sided dome topped by a slender tower, it almost looks like a rocket ready to fly into the sky. Milan is the capital of fashion, but Turin is Italy's auto capital, sometimes called "the Detroit of Italy" (although its car manufacturers are actually doing a lot better than the ones in the real Detroit). Another epithet used for Turin is "the capital of the Alps".

In Piedmont you find the Alps in a Mediterranean climate. This combination holds a great attraction. Piedmont is now a very cosmopolitan and even multi-cultural place.

Many Northerners call it their home, at least during the summer months. After all the distance by car to such places as Marseilles, Lyon, Zurich, Stuttgart, or Munich is only a few hours.

Piedmont's economy is healthy in its diversity. High-quality agriculture (a lot of it for the gourmet market), industry, and tourism are its traditional legs. The service sector is now of growing importance as well. Turin especially has turned into an ultra-modern city with a strong emphasis on IT.

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