People who want to satisfy their yearnings for curious journeys should close all their manuals of recommended tourist paths and give themselves the freedom to visit Piedmont and let themselves be swept along with the wish to discover a region that is rich and profoundly interesting.
Gignese is a little town nestled in the green countryside next to Lago Maggiore. Here there is an umbrella museum where more than 1500 examples of parasols for strolling and vacation time as well as umbrellas embroidered on hand-made staffs by craftspeople in the Piedmont tradition.
Even the floor plan of this environmental museum is curious. It suggests three open umbrellas placed side by side. Not far away is the Isola Madre, the site of the Palazzo Borromeo inside of whose preciously decorated salons you can find an artistic marionette museum that conserves puppets and dolls from the 1700s and 1800s.
Music lovers should visit Quarta, where clarinets, flutes, and saxophones are made out of brass, wood, or metal, depending on the families of the craftspeople involved and the work techniques employed.
A little way off in Novara Province of Piedmont lies Pettenasco, where you can breathe an old-time atmosphere. There is a former water mill where a collection of antique hand-made wooden products for daily use has been set up. There are peppermills, rings and supports for curtains, bowls, seats, and mannequins.
If it is true that “gentlemen prefer blondes,” it is also true that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” as Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell remind us in the Howard Hawks film.
This is a perfect motto for Valenza, where emeralds, rubies, aquamarines, topazes, pearls and diamonds enhance the value of rings, necklaces, bracelets, and pins – all these made by hand with almost surgical perfection.
People who prefer objects from material culture to luxury items can pay a visit to Cisterna d’Asti, where there are several handicraft slipper makers who have continued to make wooden clogs, the traditional footwear of Piedmont’s farmers.
Lanzo, on the other hand, is noted as the city of magnin, the tin smiths who make pots and casserole dishes new again.
Castellamonte is the city of stoves. There are stoves everywhere – on balconies, terraces, or in church. You can admire the traditional handicraft work in terracotta, extracted from the numerous clay pits in the area.
Mondovi’ is an important center for ceramics production. It is here, also, where the City Printing Museum holds the first book printed in Piedmont with moveable type, De Institutiones confessorum” published in 1472.
Courtesy of Regione Piedmont