If the water level is low, parts of the Rio Valgrande riverbed are accessible. The river is deeply cut in and often the banks are sheer cliffs, at times barring the way.
The name Piedmont comes from medieval Latin Pedemontium, i. e. "ad pedem montium", meaning "at the foot of the mountains": Piedmont, whose capital is Turin, is surrounded on three sides by the Alps, including Monviso, where Po river rises, and Monte Rosa. It borders France, Switzerland and the Italian regions of Aosta Valley, Lombardy, Liguria and Emilia Romagna. Its history was linked for centuries to Savoy dynasty: since 1046 Piedmont was part of County of Savoy, raised to Duchy of Savoy in 1416, evolved in the eighteenth century into the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. The role of Piedmont for Italy's unification is comparable to the role of Prussia for Germany and his army was the engine of the unification process, ended with the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. The presence of Savoy in its territory bequeathed a large number of castles and residences. Lowland Piedmont is a fertile agricultural region, producing wheat, rice and maize and is one of the great winegrowing areas in Italy. The region contains major industrial centres: FIAT automobile plants in Turin, Ferrero's chocolate factories in Alba, tissue and silk manufactories in Biella, in Ivrea Olivetti was an important technology center, publishing in Turin and Novara.