Piedmont/Po Valley

Old Jan 5th, 2013, 07:17 AM
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Piedmont/Po Valley

We're thinking about our fourth trip to Italy, and are wondering about the practicality of exploring the Piedmont region (perhaps spending two or three days in eastern Provence as well) or whether going east from Milan (Piacenza, Parma, Modena, Ravenna) would be a better trip. We have about 10 days. I presume either way we'd use a car. Any suggestions welcome.
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Old Jan 5th, 2013, 07:56 AM
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Well in the Po valley I'd use a bicycle or a train but I guess you could visit it by car. A recent tour: http://bilboburgler.hubpages.com/hub...ice-to-Ravenna
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Old Jan 7th, 2013, 12:08 AM
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Personally I prefer Piemonte - it's a beautiful region with lots of charming villages where you can feel the relaxed atmosphere and eat delicious local foods. One of our favorite experiences was going on a truffle hunting tour near alba, then eating the truffles "we" caught shaved over the most simple prepared dishes - cheese from one neighboring village, wine from another, sprinkled with olive oil from yet another village nearby. So simple and so delicious.

Combining it with eastern provence or the french riviera is a great combination. In fact the coastal roads between piemonte and southern france have plenty of interesting stops along the way - when you take the roads leading up into the hills that are dotted with hidden villages. One of our favorites was Triora - a village known for being the center of witch hunting in ages past, and a lovely place to visit today.

Torino, while not as impressive as some of the other italian big cities, has nice spots to visit, and Genoa on the coast is... well... it's on the way to portofino and cinqueterre that are not that far.

All in all it's a wonderful region with a lot of variety of places to visit. We still want to go back there one day in October-November, to be there in prime truffle season.
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Old Jan 7th, 2013, 02:45 AM
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I love the Po valley, partly because I love the food so much. It is also intensely rich in beautiful art towns, with Parma and Ravenna being two of the crown jewels of Italy, and Modena is of course a UNESCO world heritage sight. A car is not a necessity because the train like though that region is so good, but if you have a car, then it is also possible to visit the small towns and castles in Vignola, Torrechiara and some other delightful places and stay at some stunning small inns that serve legendary food. If you are not stopping in Bologna, you might think of swinging by Ferrara. (I'd skip Piacenza.)

I like Piemonte, too, especially Torino, a beautiful, sophisticated city with an overload of unique museums and collections, plus great chocolate, and of course the region's red wine is great. But I think of Piemonte mainly as a wine destination, with only incidentally some nice scenery and some nice small towns. (Triora, mentioned above, in actually in Liguria.) So it really depends on whether you would like basically a foodie-winey tour heading into France, or a really intense dose of Italian pasta, Parmigiano, Renaissance art, Byzantine underpinnings. I think the Emilia-Romagna tour is the much richer in culture and calories.

Niether place is ideal in summer, with Piemonte having the slight edge because it is easier to get up into the hills and mountains, or down to the beach for relief from the humidity. Anytime before April, though, I'd be reluctant to plan a driving tour of Piemonte, where early spring snow or ice can't be ruled out.

In high summer, I would pick the valle d"Aosta or the Dolomiti.
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Old Jan 7th, 2013, 07:33 AM
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Love, love, love Piemonte and the Po valley. One of the best meals we have had in our 5 trips to Italy was at Antica Corte Pavalicina - their culatello is amazing.
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