Itineraries for connoisseurs on racing bikes and e-bikes
The love story between Italians and the racing bike has distant roots. Through cycling, it is possible to trace the modern cultural history of the peninsula, where a humble two-wheeler has contributed to the affirmation of a true national identity. Just think of the heated discussions between the supporters of Coppi and Bartali – with a nod to the so-called golden years of cycling – united in their own way by an all-Italian love and a passion consisting of hard work, great effort and immense determination. Today cycling may seem very far from those feats considered “heroic”, but the enthusiasm is always alive and makes hearts beat faster. Who hasn’t been thrilled by Filippo Ganna’s recent achievements at the last Giro d’Italia – among other things, a Piedmontese boy from Verbania? And indeed Verbania will host the start of stage 20 of the 2021 Giro, while Novara will see the arrival of stage 2 – one more reason to retrace unique itineraries or approach a fabulous sport.
Whether you are a lover of grueling Pantani-style climbs, or a sprinter with an eye to the stopwatch, or just a simple e-bike cyclist, the Province of Novara offers numerous ideas for out-of-the-ordinary routes. With either the Lakes of Maggiore and Orta in the background, or the rolling Novara hills from which excellent wines are obtained – to be borne in mind for the “after” – surrounded by medieval castles and Renaissance parish churches, you will be spoiled for choice in a territory decidedly rich in hidden and very evocative corners.
Loop round Lake Orta – from Borgomanero to Omegna
A look at the romantic lake par excellence, the charming Lake Orta that has always fascinated for the strong contrast between the lake basin and the surrounding High Peaks – the view of Monte Rosa that peeps out is truly memorable.
A flat start before beginning the series of ups and downs that run along the lake, passing through Orta and Pettenasco up to Omegna, the homeland of Alessi and Bialetti . From here the first of the demanding climbs that go around the lake: from Nonio the climb is noticeable, but offers unprecedented glimpses of the fascinating island of San Giulio and the lake in general. It is possible to go as far as Quarna (hamlets of Sotto and Sopra) for an enchanting view, and then take the main road that passes through Bagnella, Brolo and Nonio. After leaving the provincial road and going as far as Arola you will find the 16th century Church of the Assumption. From here descend to Pella, a very attractive village across from Orta; the square of Alzo offers magnificent views. Return to Borgomanero passing through San Maurizio d’Opaglio.
TOUR OF LAKE ORTA
Distance: 66 Km
Elevation Gain: 1170 m
Loop Arona – Meina – Arona – Lake Maggiore
Departure and arrival on Lake Maggiore for a route full of exciting climbs, with views that extend to Lake Orta.
From Arona you skirt the lake passing through Meina, Belgirate, Stresa, taking the road from the latter that climbs towards Gignese. Just before the latter, take the road on the right to the Genziana refuge – here a stop to admire Monte Rosa is a must. There is also a fountain nearby. From here, continue along the road that leads to Luciago and then onto Armeno, with enchanting views of Lake Orta. From Armeno you can tackle the climbs to Coiromonte and descend to Sovazza, then continue to Meina and return to Arona.
A great ride that is highly satisfying.
LOOP FROM ARONA
Distance: 81 Km
Elevation gain: 2020 m
Tour of Lake Maggiore – departing from Arona
A classic that takes you all the way to Switzerland. A journey between two regions and two countries along timeless itineraries.
Starting from Arona, cross into Lombardy, at Sesto Calende, and continue towards Angera– its fortress is remarkable -, and then onto Laveno, Luino, up to the Swiss border. Locarno and Ascona, the charming Piazza Giuseppe Motta – these are the major towns encountered in Switzerland. Continue along the Piedmontese coast through Cannero, Baveno and Meina. A look at the splendid Borromean Islands, reachable from Stresa: unique in Italy, these islands are a hymn to the Belle Époque, with fairy-tale gardens and richly decorated palaces. This tour is a must. Some kind of identity card is necessary for Switzerland.
TOUR OF LAKE MAGGIORE
Distance: 162 Km
Elevation Gain: 1140
These trails lend themselves to a thousand interpretations and variations. In fact, you could include a tour around Lake Mergozzo, reaching it from the Lombard shore of Lake Maggiore, after Feriolo, or passing through Lake Orta, after Omegna towards Gravellona Toce. Three lakes in one day!
Or go from one lake to another, climb up to Mottarone (1492m), a magnificent terrace overlooking Seven Lakes and an excellent playground for everyone, with ski slopes, the Alpyland playground, an adventure park, a funicular and great fun. Why not go as far as Valsesia? Passing from Nonio, on Lake Orta, continue towards Arola up to Varallo Sesia and from here along the Val Mastallone or the Central Valley up to Alagna Valsesia. A lot of effort, but great satisfaction.
A fairytale among the greenways
Since life, fortunately, is not always an uphill road, the province of Novara offers countless cycle paths and canals along which you can enjoy truly fabulous bike excursions without having to resort to constant gear changes; real off-road cycling for slow and conscious tourism, respecting the environment and in close proximity to water – the great constant of the whole province. In this way, areas that were once closed to traffic because they were service roads, are once again passable and it is possible to appreciate the great value of the engineering works: it is said that “an excursion along a canal is as educational as reading a book”. Discover some of these itineraries, where the bicycle opens the doors of one’s imagination.
Along the Ticino Valley
Ideal for gravel as about 20 km are on dirt tracks
Inhabited since the Iron Age, the Ticino valley is an area rich in history and adventures. The Ticino Park, created in 1974 to protect the river and the numerous natural environments connected to it, extends between Piedmont and Lombardy and follows the course of this important river that rises in Switzerland and flows into the Po.
There are countless cycle paths throughout the province and this itinerary leads to the discovery of places of remarkable naturalistic and environmental beauty.
Starting out from Novara, the homeland of Antonelli, who has left his mark with works of great beauty – including the basilica of San Gaudenzio or the Duomo, to name but a few – continue on to Galliate, where it is possible to admire the Visconti Castle, built in 1476, in addition to the parish church of Saints Peter and Paul, with a characteristic unfinished bell tower, 45 meters in height. Entering the Ticino Park and following the cycle path, you will arrive in Cameri. Villa Picchetta, seat of the Park itself, boasts 19th century frescoes and sundials restored in recent years. The Isola del Bosco Vedro, is the most important Special Nature Park of the Ticino, an area rich in woods and clean water and an excellent educational path. Continue along the cycle path to Bellinzago, and then take the Alzaia del Canale Naviglio Grande path, to reach Turbigo. Passing through the area known as the Sette Fontane because of its seven springs, you will arrive at the Sanctuary of Varallino, outside the 116th century town of Galliate: the fresco in the dome, which represents Paradise, is well worth a stop. From here you return to Novara.
ALONG THE TICINO RIVER
Distance: 51 Km
Elevation gain: flat route
Abbey of Dulzago Novarese
Route with dirt roads: recommended for gravel
In this hamlet of Bellinzago Novarese, between countryside and rice fields, the splendid 12th century abbey is the starting point of a decidedly fascinating loop. Continue towards Bellinzago and Oleggio, where the Romanesque church of San Michele has remarkable frescoes. With slight gradients you reach Mezzomerico and, passing through beautiful vineyards, you reach Conturbio on dirt tracks; continue to Gargnano, descend through Borgo Ticino and, crossing a wood, you arrive at Varallo Pombia, in the Ticino Valley. Return to Oleggio and, thence to Badia, through rolling countryside.
THE BADIA LOOP
Distance: 49 Km
Elevation Gain: 466 m
Villages and castles in eastern Sesia
Another great river that characterizes the provinces of Vercelli and Novara, the Sesia originates from Monte Rosa and flows into the Po. Water has always accompanied the life of the region and retracing some of its features is good for the soul.
Starting from Novara and arriving in Carpignano Sesia, this route crosses the villages of Gionzana – the splendid oratory of the Madonna del Latte, with frescoes from the 15th century, in a scenic position in the middle of the rice fields – San Pietro Mosezzo, with a beautiful 16th century parish church, Casaleggio, Vicolungo – seat of a castle begun in the 15th century, the parish church of San Giorgio, with a beautiful 15th century fresco and the Palazzi, a medieval complex sited along the ancient Strada Biandrina, inside which there is the richly decorated Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. In addition, along the plain crossed by Canale Cavour are the villages of Mandello, Landiona (church of Santa Maria dei Campi, dating back to the 12th century), Sillavengo (the oratory of Santa Maria Nova) and Castellazzo. Of note the ancient wine press of Carpignano Sesia, the oldest example to be found in Piedmont, dating back to 1575.
Starting out from Ghemme discover the Monte Fenera Nature Park , skirting round Romagnano, Cavallirio, Boca, with the imposing Antonellian sanctuary – and then perhaps proceed to nearby Maggiora, home of motocross and where Casa Antonelli is located. Continue onto Grignasco and then return to Ghemme and via minor roads to Prato Sesia. In the Park, established in 1987, archaeological finds from the prehistoric era have been uncovered. Just over 30 km in a corner of the province that is full of history and charm.
ALONG THE RIVER SESIA
Distance: 51 Km
Elevation gain: flat route
A province with something for everyone
The area is certainly full of itineraries, something for everyone: for those who love wine and want to admire the vineyards – we suggest following the Bicinvigna route or getting lost among the colourful rows of grapevines – keen photographers should head for the rice fields at sunset or at dawn, especially if flooded, as they offer unique views of Monte Rosa.
What are you waiting for?