Piedmont means ‘at the foot of the mountains,’ and the name is apt: Surrounded by French and Swiss alps, over forty percent of Piedmont is mountainous.
French was spoken in Piedmont until the end of the 19th century and still influences local dialects.
Piedmont is one of Italy's wealthiest regions, known for its fine wines and food. Many of the dishes in Piedmont's swankiest restaurants derive from the tables of the Piedmontese aristocracy, in particular the Savoy dukes and kings.
Piedmont and the Savoys were at the heart of the Italian Unification movement in the 19th century.
Rome became the new capital, much to the dismay of the Piedmontese. In an effort to save the region’s influence, they began new industries including Fiat and Olivetti. Today Piedmont is second only to Lombardy in national wealth and power.
Italy's longest river, the Po, begins in Piedmont, and its vast plain stretches across northern Italy, allowing both manufacturing and rice cultivation in paddy fields.