Bordering France and Switzerland, the North West of Italy
naturally has a number of influences from these countries rather than the Mediterranean, as might be expected. The regions of Piedmonte
, Val d’Aosta and Lombardy
roughly make up the north western part of the country, and the area’s rich diet and higher standards of living compared to that of the south, is due to its close proximity to the major European trade routes. This perceived prosperity manifests itself in the food, which is characterized by less use of olive oil, pasta and tomato sauce and more use of butter (or lard ), rice, corn (for polenta) and cheeses for cream sauces.