cyclingscaping BIELLA to BARAGGE WITH CAROLA

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Cycling Distance: 24,0 km

Walking distance: 4,0 km

Height difference: 120,0 m

Last Friday (2nd of September) we went for another bike tour with Carolla, our dear friend and guide. This time, she took us (myself and Aastha) to Baragge, a huge natural reserve further in Candelo, known as the “savanna of Biella”.

The route we made this time was quite similar than the one we made on the ride of the 16th of July (when we visited the Ricetto of Candelo). However, instead of going straight on at Corso Europa, we made a left at Via Piave, so than Carolla could show us one of the only places that she doesn’t like in Biella: the two roundabouts made especially for the big commercial centre Gli Orsi. Going to Candelo through via Pavia is also nicer because is a road with much less movement then Corso Europa, so it’s possible to cycle in a more relaxed way, making some stops to observe the landscape and talk about the city. For me, one of the most interesting moments of this beginning of ride was when we started leaving Biella (just before the roundabouts), heading south. As the landscape of the north of Biella is so strongly featured by the mountains (the pre-alps), when you head south and see only the long horizon, the feeling of open space gets really strong and the perception of space, sound and time seems to be sharpen.

Just after this poetic moment, we arrive at the first of the roundabouts, which are commonly known as the “Orsi roundbaouts”. One of the reasons for Carolla not to like them so much is because the flow of traffic was dramatically reduced, “I wouldn’t mind if the municipality had done it to improve the traffic (which is not the case), but they did only because of the commercial centre, it’s almost like telling people to slow down and go do some shopping”, she says. In fact, the two roundabouts are quite disproportional to the size of Biella, but they clearly show us the mindset of the political leaders of the area and the way the city is orientated towards consumerism.

The quick stop between the roundabouts was an important moment, as we exchanged some rich information about the current political as well as economic situation of Italy. As we started to talk about consumerism, the economic crisis and the eventual collapse of the capitalist economical structure, Carolla added an interesting comment about the consume of textile goods in Biella: “around twenty years ago, before the steep decline of the textile industry, the local tailors started completely disappeared, as people would just buy new clothes instead of repairing them. But more recently, the tailoring activity is raising again, as it became cheaper to send your trousers to repair rather than throwing them away and getting new ones.” I recently had the opportunity meet Mr. Nigel Thompson, president of the Wool Company of Biella, who says that the present scenario for the textile industry in general is that China doesn’t have resources (like Biella has its unique water, for instance), but they have the machinery and the cheap labour, so the activity there is under great expansion, overtaking the majority of the international market.

After passing by the two roundabouts, we quickly reached Candelo and headed South-eastwards to Baragge, by Via Castellengo, a long and straight road that starts in the centre of Candelo and faces the park. It was another moment in which we left a more enclosed environment and got immersed on the vast, broad open air space.

As one arrives at the reserve, the landscape changes so quickly and drastically that it feels like you are far away from Biella (even though it takes only 20 minutes to gat there cycling). The air seems to be drier (whether it is a psychological impression or not), as there are no big trees, but only lower vegetation and even some erosion on the ground due to the instability of the superficial soil, which is composed by sand. The place is really big and it gives a peculiar feeling of liberty but at the same time, a sort of lack of geographical identity. Very pleasant experience!

As we headed down and reached a part of the park where the trees started to be tall again, we decided to walk continue to explore the space. We walked down until we reach the panoramic area, where it is possible to observe the picturesque view of the mountains on the north of the horizon.

The next bike ride will have the Burcina park as target, so then we wil have visited the “three B’s of Biella”, as Carolla says referring to the parks of Bessa (that we passed by with Oriella, Baragge and Burcina).

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