Piedmont, region, Italy
In the more elevated parts of Piedmont, forest products and fruit are produced and cattle are raised. In the fertile valley of the upper Po River wheat, corn, rice, grapes, honey, and chestnuts are grown. Piedmont has considerable industry, powered in part by well-developed hydroelectric facilities and aided by an extensive transportation network. Manufactures include motor vehicles (mainly at Turin), textiles, leather goods, aluminum, chemicals, glass, wine, and office machines. There is a substantial tourist industry, notably at Lago Maggiore in the northeast, and skiing is a popular activity. There is a university at Turin.
The area of Piedmont was incorporated by Rome in the 1st cent.
The French often entered Piedmont via the strategic Mont Cenis and Montgenèvre passes through the Alps, either as allies or as enemies; they greatly influenced Piedmontese history and culture. Moreover, Piedmont was a major battlefield in the Italian Wars (15th–16th cent.), the wars of Louis XIV, and the French Revolutionary Wars. The dukes of Savoy, who in 1720 became kings of Sardinia, had acquired all of present-day Piedmont by 1748. From 1798 to 1814, Piedmont was held by France. After 1814, the region became the nucleus of Italian unification during the Risorgimento, and Turin was the first capital (1861–64) of the new Italian kingdom. Valle d'Aosta was part of Piedmont until 1945.
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