The northwest region of Italy, Piedmont, meaning “at the foot of the mountain” in Italian, is hugged on three sides by the Alps. It boasts beautiful landscapes of cultivated hills and vineyards that are dotted with small towns, castles; crystalline lakes, long rivers and of course Turin, Piedmont’s capital with its wonderful baroque architecture. Here, everybody is very welcome thanks to the city’s longstanding commitment to LGBTQ+ rights. Like many parts of Italy, this region is best discovered in slow mode…ideally on foot or bike. This is the home of slow food, Alba truffles, Fasone beef, distinctive olive oil and amazing wines. And of course hazelnuts, the main ingredient for the word famous Nutella. One Piedmont tradition that you should not miss is the “merenda sinoira”, a substantial supper of small traditional country dishes, paired with a local wine. You will soon see that slow food is not a trend in Piedmont, but a wonderful way of life!
Red grape vines of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto produce world renowned wines like Barolo and Barbaresco, and white grapes like Moscato, Cortese and Arneis bring us Asti and Strevi just to name a few. These have been cultivated in sustainable fashion by family-owned business for generations, often creating award-winning vintages treasured the world over.
The lakes Maggiore and d’Orta are another highlight of this region, with their period houses and elegant villas. When there, make sure to visit one of the small islands, such as San Giolio, Isola Madre and Fishermen islands, which are all popular wedding and civil union destinations because of their magical ambiance. They are ideal for a romantic getaway, or simply to enjoy their peaceful green coasts. Arona and Stresa, two small towns on Maggiore, offer lakeside hospitality with an Art Deco architecture, and a number of decent dining options.
The Alps create incredibly beautiful landscapes throughout the year. They also have plenty of state-of-the-art facilities for ski and winter sports enthusiasts and were the ideal setting to the winter Olympics in 2006. This area is also amazing for hiking, rock climbing and river rafting in the summer months. The mountains of Grand Paradiso National Park (the first National Park in Italy, and one of the most popular) provide refuge for protected flora and fauna like ibex, chamois, marmots and rare birds. The river Po, the longest in Italy, begins in these majestic mountains.
Turin is a jewel of a city, with its baroque beauty and regal austerity. The urban layout inspired by Roman design makes it easy to get to know and navigate. It was the country’s capital in the nineteenth century because the ruling Savoy family chose to maintain its seat in the ancestral Royal Palace of Venaria in Mandria park, an exquisite castle in the baroque style. Here, the last King of Italy and Prince of Piedmont, Humberto was famous for his frequent homosexual rendezvous, which put him in direct conflict with the facsist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Turin’s most recognized feature is the iconic square dome and spire of the Mole Antoneliana which houses the National Museum of Cinema. The Museum coordinates three international film festivals every year, including the first gay cinema festival in Italy, “Lovers”. Another highlight not to be missed in Turin is the recently renovated Egyptian Museum, whose vast collection is second only to the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo.
Turin is a city that is very proactive towards protecting of social rights. It is recognized as one of the most important LGBTQ+ destinations thanks to numerous associations and institutions like Friendly Piemonte, Quore, and Arcigay that provide support to the community, from temporary homes to health services, to assisting struggling young people in the LBGT+ community. In 2001, the municipality of Turin began to actively discourage sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Nationwide, Turin hosts one of the most popular Pride Parades with thousands of Turin citizens participating every year since it started in 2006.