Piedmont is surrounded on three sides by the Alps, including Monviso, where the Po rises, and Monte Rosa. It borders with France (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), Switzerland (Ticino and Valais) and the Italian regions of Lombardy, Liguria, Aosta Valley and for a very small fragment with Emilia Romagna. The geography of Piedmont is 43.3% mountainous, along with extensive areas of hills (30.3%) and plains (26.4%).
Piedmont is the second largest of Italy’s 20 regions, after Sicily. It is broadly coincident 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 drains the semicircle formed by the Alps and Apennines, which surround the region on three sides.
From the highest peaks, the land slopes down to hilly areas, (sometimes with a brusque transition from mountain to plain) and then to the upper, and then to the lower great Padan Plain. The boundary between the two is characterised by resurgent springs—typical of the Padan Plain—which supply fresh water to the rivers and a dense network of irrigation canals.
The countryside is very diverse: from the rugged peaks of the massifs of Monte Rosa and of Gran Paradiso to the damp rice paddies of Vercelli and Novara, from the gentle hillsides of the Langhe, Roero and Montferrat to the plains. 7.6% of the entire territory is considered protected area. There are 56 different national or regional parks, one of the most famous is the Gran Paradiso National Park located between Piedmont and the Aosta Valley.