Lands to explore and passions to discover: a mountain bike adventure

Foto © Roberto Manfredini Costa

Discover the Alto Vergante by mountain bike

How far has the “Mountain Trail Bike ” come. From a passion exclusively for those who wanted to try their hand over dirt roads or mountain paths to a real boom that doesn’t seem to let up. In a labyrinth of more or less well-known terms – front, full, tubeless, flow, dh, enduro, to name just a few – hides a discipline that has conquered an ever growing number of fans over the years.

The descents in mountain bike – as well as the climbs – can be full of adrenaline, wild, adventurous, with dizzying jumps or long stretches of portage (carrying your bike on your shoulders, but also marked by a slow pace, in close contact with nature, away from traffic and noise. An all-round experience in which it is possible to rediscover a love of cycling, while respecting the environment.

The Province of Novara offers something, for everyone: from the vertiginous descents of the Alto Vergante, with enchanting views of the lakes, to pleasant excursions along the rice fields or over the hills of the lower Novara area – perhaps looking forward to a glass of excellent wine – in addition to the numerous cycle paths that follow important historical canals.

You can rely on a mountain bike guide or leisurely discover the wonders of the area with friends.

Here we suggest some itineraries, a taste of the wonders that await you.

Foto © Roberto Manfredini Costa

Alto Vergante MTB Arena

A dense network of trails – more than 50 km – on the mountain folds between lakes Orta and Maggiore, on the slopes of the Mottarone, connects the Alto Vergante to Arona, Meina, Invorio, Armeno and Gignese: an amazing playground for those who love trekking and mtb.

Discover theTrails of the Wolves of Cornaggia, the Trails of the Foxes of Invò, Pezzasco Paradiseand the CIPS Vergante. Imaginative names? Well yes!

Starting out from the municipalities of Colazza, Nebbiuno, Pisano and Massino Visconti, it is but a short ride before you leave behind the frenzy of modern life to explore masterfully maintained and well marked trails. These are suitable for those who have decent MTB driving skills and sufficient off-road skills and there are three categories of trails with some seriously steep slopes.

These itineraries are serious downhill, freeride, all mountain or enduro routes alternating with the softer rhythms of flow trails. There is no shortage of breathtaking views, with glimpses of the lakes and Mount Rosa towering over the surrounding peaks. Helmet and protections are highly recommended and we invite respect for the environment and for those who find time to keep the trails in order.

THE ALTO VERGANTE CIRCUIT

You can find all the information about the trails, with GPS tracking, on the trailforkswebsite.

The portico of the Sanctuary of the Holy Crucifix, designed by Alessandro Antonelli, in Boca

Not just MBT

But one does not live on adrenaline alone, and here are numerous cycle paths and walks along historic canals and easy mountain bike excursions, to rediscover a truly unique area, with a rich historical and artistic heritage and where nature and water, as well as food and wine play a primary role.

Are you a wine lover? This is the excursion for you: BiciInVigna with Antonelli.

Not only will you admire the splendid rows of grape-vines on the rolling hills of Novara, but you will also discover the genius of the great artist and architect Alessandro Antonelli, a native of Ghemme, who left numerous testimonies of his mastery. Note his contribution to the agricultural sector, thanks to the design of a system for growing vines, known as “maggorina”.

You can explore the area around Romagnano Sesia, starting from Villa Caccia, passing through Cavallirio among its vineyards and birch woods, Boca and the imposing Sanctuary of the Holy Crucifix , Maggiora with Casa Antonelli and a beautiful parish church, and finally Baraggia before returning to your starting point.

THE SANCTUARY OF BOCA

From the sanctuary it is possible to reach the area of the Boca hills, whose vineyards produce an excellent wine named after the area.

Between vineyards and castles

There is also the Via dei Vigneti, on the morainic hills of the middle Novara area. Starting from Suno, you reach Agrate Conturbia, home to the “La Torbiera” wildlife park, then onto Borgo Ticino, with its remarkable sanctuary. Continue onto Varallo Pombia and admire Villa Soranzo and the parish church, then Marano Ticino, Oleggio and back to Suno: 33 km of great views and delightful architecture.

It is also possible to follow the Sesia river through the vineyards. 41 km of asphalt and dirt roads, with various ups and downs, between ricettos (fortified areas) and medieval castles. Starting from Castellazzo Novarese, with its beautiful Rocca dei Caccia, a Renaissance castle, you reach Sillavengo and Carpignano Sesia; from here continue onto Ghemme, known for its wine production and home to a beautiful 15th century castle-ricetto. Continue to Sizzano and finally Proh, where in the luxuriant countryside there is a lovely 16th Rocchetta, adjoining the church of Santa Maria with its remarkable frescoes dating back to 1500.

Of note, near Ghemme, the Baragge Nature Reserve; vast meadows and moors alternating with sporadic trees. Established in 1992 to protect the local flora, there are numerous varieties of plants and more than 150 species of birds

A bicycle route that starts from Chivasso and finishes at the Cavour Canal on the Ticino. Born 150 years ago to favour the irrigation of the territories of Vercelli and Novara, it offers a unique cycling experience, dominated by fabulous views of the Mount Rosa chain, which emerges in all its splendour among hamlets, farmhouses and rice fields. 101 bridges, 210 drainpipes and 62 canal bridges for a unique engineering work that promises all kinds of adventures.

From Novara to Castelletto Ticino use the Regina Elena Canal instead. Passing through Oleggio, it comprises 41 km of countryside, almost all on dirt roads.

The Ticino Valley Natural Park, established in August 1978, was one of the first European river parks. Here you will be spoiled for a choice of routes and itineraries. Go from Novara to Galliate – a 51 km loop – passing through Cameri and moving from one side of Ticino to the other or even go as far as Milan! Starting from Novara use the cycle paths of the Canale Cavour and the Ticino Park, then from Robecco Sul Naviglio take the Scolmatore Canal cycle path. An environmental way to get from the countryside to the great metropolis.

THE ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY AMONG THE VINEYARDS

The Galileo Galilei astronomical observatory, located in Motto Zufolone, among the vineyards that connect Mezzomerico to Suno, is the only one in northern Piedmont.

View of the Cavour Canal at Galliate

In the Rice Lands, between the Sesia and Agogna rivers

An itinerary to rediscover great treasures and breathtaking views, starting out from Novara, following in the footsteps of Antonelli. Designed by him, the dome of the basilica of San Gaudenzio, 121 meters high, is the tallest brick building in the world: the symbol of the city, light and elegant, visible from afar. Then pass by the Duomo, the renovated castle and the Broletto, leaving Novara and continuing west. Here the rice fields dominate – the view of Monte Rosa from the flooded rice fields is breathtaking. There are many species of birds that offer a close contact with nature. The Oratory of the Madonna del Latte church in Gionzana is worth a visit.

Continue towards Marangana and Casalbeltrame, where some of the farms are known for the production of black rice (riso venere) – of note the Casalbeltrame Nature Reserve, a birding paradise. In San Nazzaro Sesia also worthy of note is the Abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso, founded in 1040, with a truly impressive narthex. Along an absolutely fascinating path, Casalvolone hosts another fabulous work: the parish church of San Pietro. Then move on to Pisnengo, Fisrengo and Ponzana, where a Butterfly Garden has been created: here the planted essences attract numerous species of magnificently multicoloured moths.

Return to Novara tired, but having thoroughly enjoyed an area of Novara, perhaps unexpectedly, magnificent.

It is also possible to follow the Via delle Risaie starting from Novara and going up to Vigevano. 46 km of scenic wonders between the two provinces of Novara and Pavia.

From Novara proceed south, towards Torrion Quartara, then Nibbiola, Terdobbiate, Gravellona Lomellina, Cassolnovo and finally Vigevano.

Saddle up!

SESIA-AGOGNA TRAIL

Distance: 48 Km
Elevation Gain: flat
Difficulty: easy



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