Geography of Piedmont

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Piedmont mountains hills plains.jpg

The Geography of Piedmont is that of a territory predominantly mountainous, 43.3%, but with extensive areas of hills which represent 30.3% of the territory, and of plains (26.4%).

To the north and to the west Piedmont is surrounded by the Alps, to the south by the Apennines, and to the east by the Po plain.

To the west Piedmont borders with France, to the north with Valle d'Aosta and Switzerland, to the east with Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, and to the south with Liguria.

Piedmont is the second largest of the 20 administrative regions of Italy, after Sicily. It is broadly contiguous with the upper part of the drainage basin of the river Po which rises from the slopes of Monviso in the west of the region and is Italy’s largest river. The Po collects all the waters provided within the semicircle of mountains (Alps and Apennines) which surround the region on three sides.

From the highest peaks the land slopes down to hilly areas, (not always, though, sometimes there is a brusque transition from the mountains to the plains) and then to the upper, and then the lower Pianura Padana. The boundary between the first and the second is characterised by risorgive, springs typical of the pianura padana which supply fresh water both to the rivers and to a dense network of irrigation canals.

Lago Maggiore and the line of the rivers Ticino and Sesia separate Piemont from Lombardy.

The countryside, then, is very varied: one passes from the rugged peaks of the massifs of Monte Rosa and of Gran Paradiso (national park), to the damp rice paddies of the Vercellese and Novarese; from the gentle hillsides of the Langhe and of Monferrato to the plains, often polluted and studded with a mixture of farms and industrial concerns.



Monviso, an emblematic mountain of Piedmont

Principal mountains:


Valsessera from Cima delle Guardie

As Piedmont is bounded to the north and to the west by the Alps, and to the south by the Apennines it is rich in valleys of very varied dimensions. There follows a list of some of the valleys of the region starting at the north of the boundary with Lombardy and proceeding anti-clockwise:



The Orco near Rivarolo - October 2009
The same river near Foglizzo - November 2011

The largest river in Piedmont is the Po. Other important rivers, in order of their mean rate of discharge, include:

Name Length Mean discharge
Ticino 280 km 350 m³/s
Tanaro 276 km 123 m³/s
Dora Baltea 160 km 110 m³/s
Sesia 138 km 70 m³/s
Toce 84 km 69.9 m³/s[1]
Stura di Demonte 111 km 47 m³/s
Bormida 154 km 40 m³/s
Orco 100 km 28 m³/s
Stura di Lanzo 68.8 km 26.1 m³/s[1]
Dora Riparia 125 km 25 m³/s
Cervo 65 km 21.9 m³/s[1]
Pellice 53 km 21.3 m³/s[1]
Agogna 140 km 16 m³/s
Bormida di Spigno 80 km 9 m³/s
Malone 40 km 8.8 m³/s
Sessera 35 km 7.5m³/s
Soana 24 km 7.1 m³/s[1]
Belbo 86 km 6m³/s
Sangone 47 km 3.9m³/s


Lake Orta from Madonna del Sasso

The principal lakes of Piedmont are:


  1. ^ a b c d e AA.VV. "Elaborato I.c/7". Piano di Tutela delle Acque - Revisione del 1º luglio 2004; Caratterizzazione bacini Idrografici (PDF). Regione Piemonte. Retrieved 2012-06-05.