PIEDMONT (Ital. Piemonte; Low Lat. Pedemons and Pedemontium), a territorial division (compartimento) of northern Italy, bounded N. by Switzerland, W. by France, S. by Liguria and E. by Lombardy. Physically it may be briefly described as the upper gathering-ground and valley of the river Po, enclosed on all sides except towards the Lombard plain by the vast semicircle of the Pennine, Graian, Cottian, Maritime and Ligurian Alps. In 1859 it was divided into the four provinces of Alessandria, Cuneo, Novara and Torino (Turin). It has an area of 11,340 sq. m. The people are chiefly engaged in agriculture growing wheat, maize and rice, chestnuts, wine and hemp; in the reeling and throwing of silk and in the manufacture of cotton, woollens and clothing; there are also considerable manufactures at Turin, Savigliano, etc. The Piedmontese dialect has been rather strongly influenced by French. The chief towns in the several provinces are as follows, with their communal populations in 1901: Alessandria (72,109), Asti (39,251), Casale Monferrato (31,370), Novi Ligure (17,868), Tortona (17,419), Acqui (13,940), Valenza (10,956), Ovada (10,284); total of province 825,745, number of communes 343; Cuneo (26,879), Mondovi (18,982), Fossano (18,175), Savigliano (17,340), Saluzzo (16,028), Bra (15,821), Alba (13,637), Boves (10,137); total of province 670,504, number of communes 263; Novara (44,249), Vercelli (30,470), Biella (19,267) Trino (12,138), Borgomanero (10,131); total of province 763,830; number of communes, 437; Turin (329,691), Pinerolo (18,039), Carmagnola (11,721), Ivrea (11,696), Moncalieri (11,467); total of province 1,147,414; number of communes, 442. The total population of Piedmont was 2,738,814 in 1859, and in 1901 3,407,493. The large number of communes is noticeable, as in Lombardy, and points to a village life which, owing to greater insecurity and the character of the country, is not to be found in central and southern Italy as a whole. There are numerous summer resorts in the Alpine valleys. The chief railway centres are Turin, communicating with the Mont Cenis line, and with the Riviera by the railway over the Col di Tenda (in process of construction), Novara, Vercelli, Asti, Alessandria., Novi. The communications with Liguria are difficult owing to the approach of the mountains to the coast, and the existing lines from Genoa to Turin and Milan are hardly sufficient to cope with the traffic.
Piedmont in Roman times until 49 B.C. formed a part of Gallia Transpadana, and in Augustus' division of Italy formed with what was later known as Lombardy the nth region. It formed part of the Lombard kingdom, and it was not till about A.D. 1000 that the house of Savoy (q.v.) arose. The subsequent history of Piedmont is that of its dynasty.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)