Travellers who come to Italy in search of art typically arrive in Florence, Rome or Venice, but one of the best-kept secrets of Italian art is to be found in a region of Italy that you probably fly right over in your search for the giants of the Renaissance - Piedmont. It’s that particularly verdant part in the top left-hand corner of Italy just after you cross the Alps. Piedmont, in local dialect is ‘Pie de’ Monte’, which in English means the land ‘at the foot of the mountain’, and if you travel through Piedmont, you see that the name is well-earned. When the air is clear, the beautiful chain of mountains that borders the north and west of the region often dominates the horizon. This is the region of Italy which has the heaviest French influence, today expressed in the elegant cafés of the larger towns and cities, and widely in local dialects.
Step outside of those cities, and you will find yourself in a land of hilltop towns, with impressive castles and frescoed churches. Those castles sometimes contain art of an an amazing quality equal to anything you will find in Florence, and even the smallest churches and tiny chapels along the Pilgrims’ Way southwards are filled with the most fantastic frescoes. But the style of the art in this region is very different to what you will find in Venice or Florence, and you are going to have to go very much ‘off the beaten track’ to find it. But if you do, you will not be disappointed.
The culture of cuisine is also very strong here. Piedmont is where the ‘Slow Food’ movement was born, and you will find festivals of local food and wine - sagre - everywhere in the small towns and villages of the region in the autumn. Piedmont is also famous for its white truffles.
I organise private art history and cultural tours for small groups in Piedmont, using the historic town of Fossano, which is perfectly-placed as a base to explore the area from: to the east, the hills of the Langhe are less than 45 minutes away by car, and to the west the historic sites up in the mountain valleys can be reached in less than an hour. Using a private limousine service, I take small groups to remote castles and churches that you would never be able to reach by public transport. I work with specialist local guides, and at the different locations I talk you through the art we see. Along the way, we also enjoy delicious food and fantastic wine! I offer set tours along certain themes, but can also design ‘bespoke’ itineraries for your group. For more information please get in touch via the Contact page.
Do take the time to come and visit us in this wonderful region of Italy, with its unique culture: the land ‘at the foot of the mountain’.