I ended up in Susa because it's where my great...
I ended up in Susa because it's where my great grandparents were from, so it was a bit of a genealogical pilgrimage (and nice to be in a city filled with Rivettis!). The fact that it turned out to be one of the most beautiful and interesting places I've seen in Italy (and I've been all over) was just plain lucky.
Susa has seen lots of action over the years because of its strategic location in a valley passage through the Alps between Italy and France. Because of that, it has architectural and cultural treasures from many cultures and all periods, all the way back to Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Savoy dynasty, etc. Beautiful scenery, beautiful ruins, beautiful churches, lots of delicious food, and I just loved the energy of this town: quiet but not boring.
Side trips we took included one to Sacra di San Michele, the abbey built into the top of a mountain on which Umberto Eco is said to have based his abbey in The Name of The Rose. It is the symbol of Piedmont and one of my top 5 do not miss sights in all of Italy, We also visited the little town of Mattie (where my family is specifically from). Very fascinating and friendly little village up a winding mountain road. The people in this area are very happy to meet visitors from the United States (doesn't seem like they get many).
These are the places you won't hear about when you're planning a vacation to Italy, so I feel like my family history handed me a real gift with these towns. Highly, highly recommend.