A brief yet complete rundown on Piedmont's History.
You know how knowing the history about a place can help you to appreciate it more?
Well, maybe you are traveling to Piedmont soon and want to learn about the history before you get here, or perhaps you are just a history nerd like me and google this kind of stuff in your spare time.
Whatever the reason, you can get your brief rundown on Piedmont's history in this blog post here.
Oh, and you'd be surprised how much the history ties into the wine! So sit down, pour yourself a glass (of Piedmontese wine) & get your *history nerd on*.
It's time to learn about the land of Kings & Queens!
A brief History of Piedmont
Located in the North-western corner of Italy lies a region that shaped and structured the entire country we know Italy to be today.
As its namesake suggests “at the foot of the mountain,” Piedmont is surrounded by the Italian Alps and borders France & Switzerland.
This region has a long and well-recorded history, dating back before the Roman Empire invaded in 220 BC.
Although there is less known before the Romans, historians have found that the earliest civilizations formed near Lago Maggiore and Lago Orta (the two most significant bodies of water in Piedmont).
Then Celtic and Ligurian tribes occupied the landscape until led by Emperor Augusta Taurinorum, the Roman Empire expanded into the Alps.
By 220 BC Augusta Taurinorum had created a Roman city in modern-day Turin, that would eventually be named after the Emperor himself.
Despite the geographic challenges, the Romans expanded to settle in cities with the names we know today such as Ivrea, Asti, and Susa. The ancient city walls of Turin have remained as a reminder of the Romans who found this city.
In addition to architecture and engineering feat, the Romans also brought their knowledge of wine and agriculture. Helping create the vineyards that would one day become internationally acclaimed.
Lombard Period (VI - VII Century)
As the Roman Empire fell, it left a way for unrest as nearby kingdoms clashed to conquer the region. In the fifth century, Goths and Burgundian's battled over the land.
By the sixth century, Byzantine and Lombard's held claim to land in Piedmont, and by the seventh century, the Franks had tried to conquer the land for themselves. Although during this time, the Kingdom of Lombard controlled vast quantities of Piedmont, the region remained primarily divided.
During the ninth and tenth century, the region would see another clash between the Hungarian Empire and Saracens before being divided into counties (or marche) ruled by feudal families. The first unification attempted was overseen by Olderico Manfredi in the eleventh century. Manfredi ruled over Turin and Ivrea, two of the largest counties, he left both territories to his son-in-law Oddone of Savoy who would begin the centuries-long process to form the Savoy Empire.
The unification hampered due to powerful dukes, formed counties, and outside forces threatening to invade the region.
By 1559 under Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy rule, the final stage of unification was able to take place, completed by his successors in 1748, establishing the House of Savoy. The Savoy Empire fell for a short period, as the region conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte, and remained under Napoleonic rule from 1796-1814. The House of Savoy quickly regained power and grew, gaining the Kingdom of Sardinia.
Piedmont played a critical role in the Italian Risorgimento. In the 1850s, King Vittorio Emanuele II, the last ruler of the House of Savoy, with the help of Politician Cavour, and nationalist Garibaldi, begin the war of unification. By 1861, The United Kingdom of Italy formed (the country we recognize today), and Emanuele II becomes the first King with Turin as its national capital.
During this time Piedmont is undergoing an industrial revolution, and large factories established in Turin. Soon, the capital of Italy is moved to Florence, and later Rome.
Twentieth Century & Today
Piedmont becomes known for its automobile and film industry. In 1899 FIAT was founded and based in Turin, where it remains to this day. As the region progresses in technologies and innovation, the first Polytechnic University of Italy established in Turin, and to this day is a highly esteemed and prestigious university. Due to the industrial growth, mass immigration happened from other Italian regions to Piedmont. After World War I, there is a strong push for worker rights and a liberal revolution.
By the 1920’s Mussolini became the leader of Italy, and Fascism rules the nation. To this day you can see evidence of his rule, such as the building in Turin’s city center known of Mussolini’s Finger, built as a sign of disrespect to the king directly across from the Royal Palace.
At the start of World War II, Turin is hit devastatingly by the allied powers, and much of the bombing destroys the Industrial section. By 1943, Italy tries to withdrawal from the brutal war. Meanwhile, Piedmont (specifically Langhe and Monferrato) becomes a headquarters for a Nazi and fascist resistance movement called the Partisan. This movement helped lead to Italian liberation from the Nazis on April 24, 1945, and the lynching of Mussolini several days later.
Since the war, Turin has been rebuilt and restored. In 2006 Turin hosted the Winter Olympics, and an electric metro rail was built.
There we go,
Much of Piemont's history be best found & explored through the region; however this brief yet complete rundown on Piedmont's history will give you a head start,
& leave more time for the wine drinking ;)
By abigail Green
See you on one of our tours soon
P.S To book in your intimate style, Boutique Wine Tasting Experience in Langhe, Piedmont, head to contact us & inquire now to tailor your perfect, customized day.