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Digital Subscriptions > Italia! > Oct 2019 > PIEDMONT’S LITTLE Provence

PIEDMONT’S LITTLE Provence

Valentina Nicastro heads to the little-known lavender fields of Piedmont for a spot of Nature’s own aromatherapy

Lavender is commonly associated with the region of Provence in France, but Italy has its own share of violet fields. There’s an area in Piedmont where between June and July the fields turn to vibrant shades of purple, making it one of the most stunning summertime landscapes in Italy. It’s close to the prestigious wine region of Barolo, yet it feels like it’s a million miles away from it.

Visiting this remote part of Piedmont during the lavender season is a true feast for the senses. The air is filled with the sweet scent of herbs and the countryside is painted with an incredible palette of colours, and the gentle buzzing of bumblebees is the only sound to break the peacefulness of the place.

The gentle buzzing of bumblebees is the only sound to break the peacefulness of the place

The lavender flowering season usually runs from mid-June to mid- July, although it can vary slightly each year according to the whims of the weather. During this period various festivals, sagre, take place throughout the region, offering a great opportunity to enjoy the local traditions and sample lavender-based products, from skin creams to honey.

Starting from mid-July, lavender is then harvested to create dried bouquets and to extract the essential oils that are used in the cosmetics and herbal industries.

VILLAGE OF LAVENDER

Home to some 180 happy souls, the sleepy village of Sale San Giovanni has been crowned the capital of this Provençal corner of Piedmont, thanks to its splendid lavender cultivations that stretch over an area of nearly 100 acres. Here the lavender rubs shoulders with other aromatic herbs, and enkir (which is also known to English speakers by its German name, Einkorn). This is the world’s oldest grain variety – it is known to have existed for at least 12,000 years.

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About Italia!

We start our exploration of 'il bel paese' in the beautiful northern region of Piedmont. From elegant, cultured cities to the rural heartland of premium wine production, this is a wonderfully diverse place to visit. Our first stop is at the fragrant lavender fields of Sale San Giovanni near Barolo, known as ‘little Provence’.