Piedmont and Liguria contain the best that Europe has to offer, condensed into a mountainous corner. The region starts at the Alps' tallest peaks, rolls through foothills that produce truffles and Barolo, and then melts into the Italian Riviera. In late spring, you can ski snowy slopes in the morning and bask by the Mediterranean in the afternoon, stopping off for some excellent wine and cheese in between.
The two regional capitals of Turin and Genoa don't draw many tourists, but they do produce jobs. Turin is home to the nation's largest private employer, Fiat, which has fallen on hard times in recent years as car sales have sagged, but will always hold a place in history as a driving force behind the Italian economy in the 20th century.
Photo Gallery The Northwest: Piedmont And Liguria Map
The Northwest: Piedmont And Liguria Map Images
It and the region's high-tech industry ensure that Piedmont will never be just another pretty place to visit.
It is little wonder, then, that surveys regularly name Piedmont towns as offering the best quality of life, while the region of Liguria has an equally convincing claim to fame as home to the oldest inhabitants in the world. The secret to longevity, its centenarians say, is a relaxed lifestyle and one glass of wine per day.