The region of Piedmont, is famous for its cuisine, fashion and hospitality. The region of Piedmont, which incorporates the Po Valley up to the foothills of the Alps, has enjoyed political stability for centuries. The primary function, and strategic importance, of the region is due to the fact that Piedmont formed a link between Italy and the rest of Europe. However, like the rest of the north and central Italy, Piedmont was attacked by the waves of barbarian tribes after the fall of the Roman Empire. Between the 6th and 8th centuries, Piedmont was invaded by the Lombards and the Franks. After this period of barbarian invasions, Piedmont came under the control of the House of Savoy and simultaneously, a part of France.
Much of Piedmont was highly populated and numerous villas and castles were built that still dot the countryside today. Since the region of Piedmont was based on the Feudal System, there were very few cities or urban centers. The feudal lords owned vast estates and their land was developed by their serfs. In Piedmont, the Feudal System survived until the French Revolution in the 18th century, which is much longer than in other areas of Italy. This exemplifies the close ties between this Italian region and France. The French Revolution, which involved an uprising of the French working classes against the feudal lords and the entire feudal system, caused the abandonment of the system in Piedmont. Piedmont also incorporated the island of Sardinia during the time of French rule and created a large unified area which would have been strategically important for the French. Interestingly enough, since Piedmont was governed by the French for so many centuries, many of the areas of Piedmont are French-speaking or bilingual.
During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, Piedmont was primarily a military state and the Piedmontese army was exceptionally strong. In terms of defense forces and political structure, Piedmont was modeled after the German state of Prussia. Piedmont, which was renowned for its military power and strength, was beneficial to the defense of both Italy and France. The region of Piedmont was also important during the period of the Risorgimento, which was the chief political movement that was to unify the entire country in 1861. At this time, the key political leaders of the Risorgimento were Count Camillo Benso di Cavour of Piedmont, Giuseppe Mazzini, and Giuseppe Garibaldi. Both Mazzini and Garibaldi were highly charismatic leaders and all three were influential in motivating the people to unite. Although he was a Frenchman himself, Cavour strongly believed in the strength of the Italians. He also wanted Piedmont to be instrumental to the unification of Italy. Victor Emmanuel, the King of Sardinia, became King of Italy after the unification finally occurred in 1861. The most significant city in Piedmont at this time was Turin or Torino and because its chief function was defense, the city was fortified. Today, Torino is a significant industrial city and is an important automotive and textile producer. Possibly the most well known company in Turin is the Fiat auto company which employs thousands of workers. The wealth of Turin contributes to the wealth of the entire region of Piedmont. Besides its wealth in industry, Piedmont is also known for its wine, the most well known is that of the sparkling Asti wine.
- ^ Swyrich, Archive materials