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 1.Lake Orta and the legend of Saint Jules   

      

Lake Orta is a jewel situated to the west of Lake Maggiore ; a little piece of  Piedmont that   inspired poets and philosophers like Balzac and Nietzsche . Its characteristic corners, the beauty of the surrounding green mountains , the island of  St. Jules in close proximity to the land, together with the tranquillity of the landscape, create  a picturesque setting.  Our tour starts at Orta village,  highlighting  the typical architectural structures, like: stone-covered roofs, the large use of  wrought ironwork and, balconies made precious by stucco. We transfer then by ferry to the island of St. Jules . As described by legend , the island was originally infested by dragons and serpents but later delivered from evil by St. Jules. The island was consecrated to him, thanks to the construction of his hundredth church . Afterwards, we  visit  the Romanesque Basilica, drawing our attention to the marvellous ambo and finally, we take a short walk through  the only promenade on the island.  

2.Orta's Sacro Monte (Sacred Hills)

     

A marvellous  place situated on top of the promontory of old Orta, The Sacro Monte is a great composition of architecture ( 20 chapels) sculpture ( 376 statues, human size) and painting (900 frescoes) that together with the uncontaminated Sacro Monte Nature Reserve , create an enraptured setting. In 1583 Orta's community decided on the construction of this holy place and dedicated it to Saint Francis of Assisi, in order to develop pilgrimages in Italy.

3."Rice and wine" oenogastronomic tour

     

This tour draws our attention both to artistic features of the territory and also to the typical oeno-gastronomic productions , primarily  rice-growing. We start with a walk to the centre of the town of Novara, discovering palaces decorated by statues , low relieves and sculptures dedicated to agriculture. Then, we visit a rice-mill, to learn the many working processes of  cultivated rice. The tour continues to the hills of the Province ( Ghemme and Romagnano villages), for the tasting of local wines, together with local dishes (risottos, sausages, cheeses, meats, etc..)

4.The Middle Ages : the Sacred and Profane

      

We start with the visit to the “ San Nazzaro Sesia” Abbey  , situated in a little village to the southwest of  Novara; a real masterpiece of  fortified construction belonging to the mediaeval period. The protecting walls , the moat and the high Romanesque belfry draw our attention to the rule of the Bishop, who at the time owned large swaths of the countryside and who charged farmers to cultivate the fields. Then ,we transfer to the hills and visit the mediaeval fortified constructions in Ghemme, built to shelter stores of food and livestock during the incursion of enemies  . Finally, we proceed to a typical winery for the tasting of  “Ghemme” and  “Colline Novaresi” wines. The wines are sampled with local cheeses and sausages. The tour ends with a visit to cellars .                       

5.Neo-classicism in Novara

          

Novara , a  fruitful land between  the “ Sesia" and "Ticino” rivers, has always been considered a “road crossing” because of its strategic position. Inhabited just before the arrival of the Romans,it was often a battlefield between internal factions and was subject to incursions by enemies. In order to fully appreciate the artistic and cultural influence of the town of Novara, one must understand its history. Our tour therefore centers on the neo classicism of the XIX century and develops through the architectural and decorative details of town's buildings, together with the historical events linked to them. We highlight all the projects of Alessandro Antonelli, the most famous local architect who was appreciated by the Savoy and completed work for them in Turin.