The city of Novara, which currently has a population of about 100,000, is the second most populous city in Piedmont after Turin and it’s also the capital of the homonymous province of Piedmont.
Among the 13 wards (circoscrizioni) Novara is divided into, the Historic Centre ward takes its name from its old town.
In the past, the city was surrounded by a city wall, but it was later demolished to allow for urban development. All that remains of the old wall is the Albertina Barrier (Barriera Albertina), a complex of two Neoclassical buildings which used to be the gateway to the city, a fixed route for those travelling from Turin to Milan.
After its demolition, the city wall was replaced by the present-day ramparts, that is large tree-lined avenues which surround the old town.
A town with about 45,000 inhabitants, Vercelli is the capital of the homonymous province as well as one of the most important art cities in Piedmont. Its charming well-preserved historic centre is filled with beautiful medieval towers and ancient Renaissance and Baroque palaces. However, the city is better known for its famous St Andrew’s Basilica (Basilica of Sant’Andrea), a Romanesque-Gothic masterpiece in Northern Italy, and its remarkable museums, such as the Camillo Leone Museum and, above all, the Burgundy Museum –the most important picture gallery of the region after that of the Savoy Gallery (Galleria Sabauda) in Turin.
Furthermore, Vercelli is a very lively cultural centre, being home to the oldest university in Piedmont, which dates back to the 13th century. Vercelli is also one of the stages of the Via Francigena, a pilgrimage route to Rome.
An alpine valley in the province of Vercelli, extending from Mount Rosa to the plains of Vercelli and comprising several side valleys, including Val Grande (“Big Valley”). The capital of Valsesia is Varallo Sesia, a town of cultural and artistic significance, as well as the most developed industrial area of the northern part of the province of Vercelli.
Borgosesia, a city located 15 kilometres far from the capital, is the largest centre and houses many shops and shopping centres. The economy of Valsesia is based on the engineering industry, which is particularly developed in the Valley, whereas the primary sector with the traditional farming activities play a minor role.
A very popular wine being produced in this valley is Gattinara, which takes its name from the homonymous city. In Upper Valsesia, economic activities revolve around summer and winter tourism. Alpe di Mera and Alagna boast two of the most developed and modern ski resorts of the entire Alpine arch, both belonging to Monte Rosa ski resort -Europe’s largest ski area.
The symbol of Valsesia is “The Sacred Mount of Varallo”, the oldest and most interesting, from the artistic point of view, of the Sacred Mounts. It’s made up of a basilica plus 45 frescoed chapels enriched with more than 800 statues. The Sacred Mount of Varallo is today considered – along with the other Sacred Mounts between Piedmont and Lombardy – a World Heritage Site and it’s also a natural reserve of the Piedmont Region.