Dear traveller friends,
today I’m here to talk to you about a beautiful but little-known destination—Biella and its surroundings.
Biella is well known in Italy and around the world as an essential centre of the textile industry and shoe industry. It’s one of the central areas for rice cultivation, and it’s renowned for its ski resorts on the Alps. Few people know Biella for its tourist attractions—undervalued and little advertised. Some of them, however, are very interesting and of great cultural relevance. Visiting this area takes just one day. It’s halfway between Turin and Milan, and it can be an excellent way to spend a day differently. You can reach Biella and some of the places in its immediate surroundings by car. Unfortunately, public transportations are limited and infrequent. The best period to visit this area is from late Spring to early Autumn. This way you should be able to avoid fog and snow.
Tour of the area
I went around this area with my wife Irene in April 2018. Our trip started from Candelo, then it went on to the Sanctuary of Oropa, in the Burcina park, and finally, we visited Biella.
Our first stop of the tour is the village of Candelo. There you can visit one of the best-preserved ricetto in Italy. A ricetto is a small fortified area that was used in Italian villages during the Middle Age to store agricultural products, livestock and sometimes protect people in case of attack.
Candelo’s Ricetto is a fortified hamlet build between the Twelfth and Fourteenth Centuries. It was used to defend the population and store the most precious goods, such as wine and grain, from invasions.
Usually, the Ricetto can be freely visited, without paying for the entrance, and the tourists aren’t numerous. However, if you want to enjoy the beauty of the place thoroughly, you can check here the scheduled events, such as “Candelo in Bloom”.
The second stop of our tour is the Sanctuary of Oropa, UNESCO world heritage. The guided tour includes the entire complex and the Sacred Mountain with its twelve chapels. However, it’s reserved for large groups. In any case, most of the buildings can be visited autonomously except for the Upper Cathedral. Due to structural problems, the cathedral is closed to the public except for Sunday mass.
The Ancient Church, in the lower part of the sanctuary, is always open to visitors and pilgrims. The altar is particularly interesting for the statue of the Black Madonna.
Along the road down to Biella, you should really take a slight detour towards Pollone, where you can find the
Once you finish your visit to the park, it’s time to head to Biella. Biella is the Provincial County Seat of the namesake district. It’s not purely a tourist city but contains some jewels that deserve to be discovered.
The town is divided into two parts. The first is the district of Piazzo, built around the Twelfth Century on top of a hill. From here you can enjoy a beautiful view over the lower part of Biella.
On top of the hill, there is a fascinating hamlet, with ancient building such as Palazzo Cisterna and Palazzo Lamarmora. The latter is worth a visit, but you need to check the days and times of opening here. Also, don’t miss San Giacomo’s Church.
The best way to reach the lower part of town is the funicular railway—Biella’s symbol. However, it’s under maintenance so you could be forced to walk the steep climb and slope or take the bus.
At the foot of the Piazzo district, there is the Borgo district. Here you can find other points of interest, such as the Santo Stefano’s Dome. It was built in the Eleventh Century and was revisited in the Gothic style and expanded in the Nineteenth Century. Near the Dome, there is the medieval Baptistery in Romanesque style.
Near Piazza del Duomo, in Via Quintino Sella, there are the last two points of interest—San Sebastiano’s Cathedral, built in the Sixteenth Century, and the Museum of Biella’s Territory.
Even if at first the Cathedral may seem just like many other churches, San Sebastiano is characterized by a beautiful dome and frescoes on the ceiling.
The tour of Biella ends with the Museum of Biella’s Territory. This museum is inside San Sebastiano’s cloister, and it’s very suggestive. It reminisces the entire history of the territory, starting from the palaeolithic findings, through the Romans findings, up to the Twentieth Century’s paintings.
I hope you enjoyed this short tour of Biella’s territory. See you soon for another fantastic journey. Don’t miss it!