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Piemonte is the region in north-western Italy that borders with France – indeed, it is named after its geographical position “at the foot (piede) of the mountains (monti)”. Its ancient historical and cultural roots date back to Neolithic times. During the first millennium BC, Piemonte was occupied by Celtic and Ligurian tribes (the Taurini and Salassi); they were then subjugated by the Romans (220 BC) who founded colonies, including Augusta Taurinorum, now modern Turin, the regional capital.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, this strategically positioned region became a target for invasions, clashes and conquests (by the Goths and Burgundians in the 5th century, the Byzantines and Longobards in the 6th century, and the Franks in the 7th century). Yet it managed to preserve a degree of autonomy. During the 9th and 10th centuries, it was subject to new invasions, this time by the Hungarians and Saracens. Having been divided into counties and marches, the territory was partly unified in the 11th century by Olderico Manfredi who left Turin and Ivrea, two of the larger marches, to his son-in-law Oddone of Savoia. It took centuries for the unification process of Piemonte to be completed under the Savoia. It was hampered first by the formation of independent communes and strong marquisates, then by the intervention of powerful overlords from other regions in the 14th century, and lastly by Piemonte’s involvement in the power struggles between Europe’s largest ruling dynasties in the 16th century. Finally, in 1559 Emanuele Filiberto of Savoia and his successors were able to embark on the final stages of unification, which were not completed until 1748.

After the interlude of Napoleonic rule (1796-1814), Piemonte followed the destiny of the Savoy Kingdom of Sardinia and played a central role in the Italian Risorgimento and the unification of Italy in 1861. From then until 1865, Turin became the first national capital. Piemonte today is one of the 20 Italian regions that make up the Republic of Italy, founded by popular referendum in 1946.

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