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Slow Masters Small-scale producers in Piemonte, Italy

There are many good things to experience in this region of Italy. One of them is the abundance of small-scale producers of all sorts. Our emphasis when traveling there is generally on foods and gastronomy - there is some of the best food on the planet here - but it seems that the region is trying to give artisans of all types respect and recognition.

This Travel Note is offered to those of you who would like to find some of these artisans or their products, in the hopes of enriching your trip, and also of benefiting these small producers.

Some of the resources are more user-friendly than others, but even those that demand a bit more effort can be useful. I supply them as a list, not necessarily in any special order, and I hope that you will find at least one that may be useful as a starting point.

They cover quite a large range of crafts: woodworking; restoration; gold-smithing; ceramics; artistic printing; textile and clothing; embroidery; glass, copper and wrought iron manufacturing; musical instruments production; pastry-making; production of cured meats, ice cream, chocolate, candy, nougat, high-quality beer, distilled beverages, liqueurs.

More space is devoted to food producers, as there are many of these in this part of Italy.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list - thankfully, there are new producers every year, so these resources have to be updated, and there are many other websites and publications that are not mentioned here. It is recommended to have Google Translate enabled in your browser, as some of these sites are in Italian only.

Buying from small-scale producers while traveling can be interesting and enjoyable, help the local economy, and give recognition to those who are sometimes striving to maintain traditions and quality, in times in which it is not always easy to do so.

1) "Artisan Excellence" (Eccellenza artigiana)

A mark/logo established by the Piemonte Region Council/Chamber of Commerce, in order to give recognition to typical local craftsmanship of high quality.
Two publications are issued every year, one on food producers, the second on all other manufacturers. As of late 2016, this list included over 2500 businesses.

Food producers :
http://www.regione.piemonte.it/artigianato/dwd/eccellenza/elenco2016/alimentare.pdf

Other manufacturers :
http://www.regione.piemonte.it/artigianato/dwd/eccellenza/elenco2016/manifatturiero.pdf

The publications are well-organized, with a bilingual (Italian-English) preface at the beginning, and with a short bilingual introduction to each category.
The rest of the publication is in Italian only, however you can reach the producers' websites and contact information though the pages in each category, and generally get a good idea even if you don't know Italian. The lovely photos accompanying the descriptions make these excellent resources.

2) "The Artisan Portal" (Il Portale dell'Artigianato)

A Google Map with placemarks showing the locations of artisans in the region (includes parts of Liguria and eastern France). There is also a "Categories" window (top left) that opens with a list of categories and producers. A bit confusing at times (for example, "food" is translated to "power" in English) but offers another way of locating these producers.

http://artigianato.sistemapiemonte.it/vetrine/index.do

3) "Masters of Taste - Turin and Province" (Maestri di Gusto - Torino e Provincia)

A beautiful bilingual (Italian-English) publication put out by the Torino Province that includes over 250 small-scale food producers, recognized for their high quality of work. Well-organized and including photos, an excellent place to start if you're visiting only in the Torino province of Piemonte.

http://www.maestridelgustotorino.com/download/libro-maestri-del-gusto-2016.pdf

Website :
http://www.maestridelgustotorino.com/scopri-i-maestri-del-gusto/

4) A website with a general overview of Piemonte for tourists, including a search engine for artisans :

http://www.piemonteitalia.eu/it/component/gestoredati/elencohome/465/eccellenza-artigiana.html

Clicking on "Quick Find" will open a drop-down menu, with the option of searching according to category and province location (even down to town level - far right). Here, too, translation can be frustrating : the Biella province appears as "piston rod", and Cuneo as "wedge" - common translation errors on Italian websites - but the site provides an additional effort to connect tourists to the region.

5) Markets, Fairs and Events

There is hardly a week in Piemonte without some sort of event that supplies an opportunity for small producers to show their wares. These can range from annual large and colorful festivals, to routine weekly or monthly markets. These are good opportunities for slow travelers to connect with their locality. If you're staying in the countryside, your hosts might be aware of events like these. However, some of these can be missed by locals, or be considered "mundane" by them - so it's best to check on these resources as well.

a) Sagre Piemonte

A nice basic site that gives you a menu to check what events are taking place, according to province and date. The list is constantly updated, and dates of events are published as early as possible. There is a newsletter put out as well, if you prefer to receive the news by mail.

https://www.sagrepiemonte.it/lista-eventi

Clicking on "Map Festivals" (upper left) will open a Google Map with markers of all the events that are taking place at present :
https://www.sagrepiemonte.it/mappa-sagre-piemonte

b) A site giving lists of routine markets all over Italy. In the case of Piemonte, clicking on each province will open a list that gives a breakdown according to towns. Again, translation issues abound, so sometimes it's better just to look at the original page in Italian.

http://www.italiaambulante.com/mercatiPiemonte.asp

6) Another site with a general overview for tourists :

http://www.piemondo.it/

Scrolling down the index on the left can give some useful information, such as "organic markets in Piemonte", "antique markets", etc.

7) Google Maps

More and more small businesses are taking advantage of appearing here. Zooming in on the area you are traveling in can reveal surprises: a local coffee shop making their own blends, a farm outlet of local produce, a small grocery with local products, etc.

8) Il Golosario - http://www.ilgolosario.it/
An online guide to everything connected to food : producers, restaurants, etc., with a weekly newsletter. In Italian only, this can supply updates about new producers and businesses in this field. Provides a geographical and category search engine.

Happy traveling!


Top photo :
a bottle of Genepy liqueur, and a jar of saffron honey - both manufactured by small-scale producers of Piemonte, from locally-grown material.
Bottom : hazelnuts waiting for processing at a small agriturismo

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