Five of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located wholly or partially within Piedmont. The region also has three creative cities and other examples of intangible heritage. Here is a complete list of World Heritage Sites in Piedmont, including entries on the UNESCO Tentative List.
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1. Vineyard Landscape Of Piedmont
Piedmont has been an important wine-producing region since pre-Roman times. The Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont covers five distinct wine-growing areas with outstanding landscapes. It also includes the historic Castle of Cavour with its open-air museum and wine shop.
2. Ivrea, Industrial City Of The 20th Century
Ivrea is an industrial city and home of the Olivetti company, which manufactured typewriters, calculators and office equipment. The city, consisting of a factory, administration buildings and workers’ homes, was built between 1930 and 1960 and is regarded as an important social project, a “modern vision of the relationship between industrial production and architecture”.
Ivrea is around 50 km from Turin. The UNESCO site of Ivrea, Industrial City of the 20th Century includes several industrial, residential and public buildings, and a UNESCO Visitor Centre. There is also a substantial historic quarter to explore.
3. Residences Of The Royal House Of Savoy
4. Sacri Monti Of Piedmont And Lombardy
The Sacri Monti (“sacred mountains”) are a number of groups of chapels and other religious buildings across Piedmont and Lombardy. They were built in the 15th and 16th centuries for the benefit of pilgrims who were unable to travel to Jerusalem. The chapels are prized for their history and physical location, and also for their architecture and artworks.
Seven of the nine sacred mountains are located in Piedmont. These are: Belmonte, Crea, Domodossola, Ghiffa, Oropa, Orta and Varallo. Each hilltop has a sequence of chapels with religious frescoes and sculptures.
5. Prehistoric Pile Dwellings Around The Alps
The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps are a multi-country collection of 111 ancient pile dwellings. These distinctive stilt houses from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages can be found in several European countries and a number of regions of Italy.
There are two pile dwelling sites in Piedmont. Beside Lake Viverone are the remains of a circular village built upon thousands of piles. The site itself cannot be visited (although it is visible from the water) but you can see reconstructed houses at the Visitor Centre. And there is a single well-preserved pile dwelling in the Lagoni di Mercurago Nature Park.
Turin, Creative City For Design
Turin is a UNESCO Creative City for Design. This is largely due to its role in the automotive industry, and recognises the city’s innovation and creativity in the design and manufacture of vehicles.
Alba, Creative City For Gastronomy
Alba is Piedmont’s capital of food and wine, and is now a UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy. The city is sometimes known as the White Truffle Capital and was a pioneer in the creation of the slow food movement. It is also home to a long-established food festival.
Biella, Creative City For Crafts And Folk Art
Finally, Biella is a Creative City for Crafts and Folk Art. Historically the city was based on the textile industry, but more recently the old wool mills have been converted into spaces for creativity and innovation, encouraging many start-up businesses to the area. There are a number of museums where you can explore Biella’s industrial and artistic heritage.
You can find two examples of UNESCO intangible heritage in Piedmont.
Musical Art Of Hunting Horn Players
The Musical Art of Hunting Horn Players refers to a historic tradition developed in the 17th and 18th centuries for royal hunts. It soon became a musical practice in its own right, used as entertainment and at weddings and funerals.
Although not specific to Piedmont, or even to Italy, the art of hunting horn players is associated with the Royal Family of Savoy. And it was largely through the efforts of the Accademia di Sant’Uberto in Turin that this distinctive tradition was recognised by UNESCO.
Truffle Hunting And Extraction
Truffle Hunting and Extraction in Italy is a recent addition (2021) to the UNESCO list. It covers all aspects of truffle hunting and extraction, and includes many centuries of folklore and tradition, as well as – of course – the festivities associated with the truffle season.
Again, this is not specific to Piedmont, but this is one of the country’s main truffle areas, and is particularly noted for its white truffles. You can learn more about truffle hunting by joining in a hunt with a trained dog.
UNESCO Tentative List
Piedmont has two entries on the UNESCO Tentative List. The Sacra di San Michele, a religious complex on Mount Pirchiriano, is part of the multi-region Cultural Landscape of the Benedictine settlements in Medieval Italy. And the Via Francigena, a long distance pilgrimage route to Rome, is also part of a multi-region site.