We start our journey in the north-west of Italy and at first we follow the line of the Alps from west to east before heading south to deal with the areas on either side of the Apennines. Finally we look at the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

Piemonte (Piedmont)

The name describes the position of the area: 'at the foot of the mountains', in this case being the Alps which bound Italy with France and Switzerland in a graceful arc. Countless rivers, of which the Po is the best known, flow from these mountains to form wonderful valleys in the lower lying areas. The principal city of Piedmont is Turin (Torino), famous for its heavy industry, although the rest of the area remains in traditional agricultural. The valleys of Piedmont make a welcome contrast with the massive mountain ridges of the Alps.

The southern part of Piedmont has something of the nature of Tuscany's rolling hills. Piedmont is rich in tradition, mainly derived from successful generations of farmers. The local cuisine is best known for sturdy dishes in which herbs and spices are strong. No-one gives a second thought here to a mere couple of cloves of garlic. It is therefore no surprise to discover that the red wine from these parts is also powerful and full-bodied, especially those made with the ubiquitous Nebbiolo grape.

 Por as long as anyone can recall wine has been made in Piedmont, witnessed by many references in both Greek and Roman literature. Today Piedmont, together with Tuscany, is a temple to the art of Italian wine making.