Total Distance: 44km

Height difference: 155m

Last Sunday we organized another bike tour around Biella. As Carola, our dear friend and guide couldn’t make it, she sent a friend to replace her. So we met Oriella, a lovely girl who lives in Cossato, a town very close to Biella.

We left the Fondazione Pistoletto around 11h30 and started our journey. Oriella was an excellent guide and from the very beginning of the ride was quite happy to talk about her relationship with the city, its surroundings and how it’s important to reinforce the positive aspects of the Biellese region. As well as Carola and Wighy, she finds the current lack of interest and love for Biella from its inhabitants quite problematic, as people often express disinterest and even unawareness about unique things that can be experienced here. Throughout the talks during the bike rides as well as here at Cittadellarte, one of the main issues raised about the low self stem of the population is the economic depression, mainly related to the decline of the textile industry on the late 90s and the current international economic scenario. It seems that there was a strong movement towards work and now that there’s not so many jobs around, people don’t really know where else to look at… Of course one must not generalize a whole social context and most of the people who have been taking part at the Cyclingscaping project are proud of their city, even recognizing that there are serious problems to be solved, so I am sure that there’s still a lot of positive things to be explored, even better if is through a bike ride or walk!

Just before leaving Biella, we passed by the road where Oriella used to live, in the borough of Vernato, near the Piazzo. The area is the old side of the town and it’s very beautiful, being one of the favourite places for many Biellese inhabitants. Its streets are narrow and the walls have a worm aspect, which makes the space quite cosy and romantic. We then took Via Ivrea and headed to Mongrando, the next village before Zubiena.

Zubiena is a very interesting village, having its centre at the top of a hill and some tiny boroughs spread around it. The church is its symbol and can be seen from different spots on the road, being an efficient point of reference for travellers like us. While we were passing by the road Casale Montino, Oriella saw a house that could be her dream house (see pictures bellow). It was a cottage with a big green area in front of it, so she could have a good vegetable garden in one side and some animals at the other side. I’ve made a little project to illustrate her “dream”, hope you like it Ori!

On the way to Magnano we found the Bielesse Association of Gold Finders, on Via Luciano Debernardi. We were all thrilled to know that there is a gold finding culture here at the region and even more excited to see the little pieces of gold that Renzo (one of the presidents of the Association) found on that morning. He mentioned that there are some competitions every year, but as the activity is not so profitable, the relationship that the gold-finding practitioners established with it is to treat it more like a sport or hobby. But anyway it was incredible for us to spend a few moments there during our lunch break. I was also quite happy to learn about likes and dislikes from Renzo and Liliana. Among their likes is the Museum of Territory of Biella and the hospital is the place they don’t like (which curiously is one of the less loved places in the city).

After the lovely lunch brake, we took the path to Magnano, passing by roads surrounded by trees and, sometimes fruit-trees (such as fig and blackberry). One of the aspects that called my attention was some abandoned houses along the way. We stopped at one of these houses and went to take a closer look. The building was still in good conditions and there was a lot of furniture inside it, so I asked Oriella about it and she said that is very commom here at the Piemontese region to find these kind of elements on the landscape, as people tent to leave the houses to decay instead of selling of giving them away, it’s a kind of attachment to the property that, according to her, is quite intrinsic to its culture.

Our next stop (finally!) was the Ricetto of Magnano, an exquisite medieval area that is a little bit similar to the Ricetto di Candelo, but much smaller. The constructions were from the century XI and XII and were as well preserved as the ones from the Ricetto of Candelo, which gives a nostalgic but also cool atmosphere to the place. The view from the hill (the highest spot of our tour, with around 560m above the sea level) is also beautiful, a happy end for a tough hill climb. On the way back we also passed by the Roman Church of San Secondo, built between the XI and XII centuries, which has a very simple and typically Roman construction. Not surprisingly, the element of the church that most interested me was a pipe that comes from the inside of the church and make an angle on the adjacent wall, a beautiful drawing on the space and a nice contrast with the style of the building.

After all these activities we were exhausted and very hot (it was around 28º!), so nothing better to finish the ride than a jump at the river in Gorgomoro, only 15 away from Cittadellarte. A big thank you to Carola and Oriella! You girls are fantastic!!!



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