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—  Comune  —
Comune di Biella
Baptistery of Biella

Coat of arms
Biella is located in Italy
Location of Biella in Italy
Coordinates: 45°34′N 08°04′E / 45.567°N 8.067°E / 45.567; 8.067
Country Italy
Region Piedmont
Province Biella (BI)
 - Mayor Donato Gentile
 - Total 46.68 km2 (18 sq mi)
Elevation 420 m (1,378 ft)
Population (31 May 2009)
 - Total 45,870
 - Density 982.6/km2 (2,545/sq mi)
 - Demonym Biellesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 13900
Dialing code 015
Patron saint St. Stephen
Saint day December 26
Website Official website

Biella About this sound listen (Latin: Bugella) is a town and comune in the northern Italian region of Piemonte, the capital of the province of the same name, with some 45,800 inhabitants as of 2009. It is located about 80 km northeast of Turin and about 80 km west-northwest of Milan.

It lies in the foothills of the Alps, in the Bo mountain range near Mt. Mucrone and Camino, an area rich in springs and lakes, the heart of the Biellese Alps irrigated by several mountain torrents: the Elvo to the west of the town, the Oropa and the Cervo to the east. Nearby natural and notable tourist attractions include the outlook at Zegna with the ski resort of Bielmonte; Burcina Natural Reserve; and the moors to the south of town. The Sanctuary of Oropa is a site of religious pilgrimages. In 2003, the Sacred Mountain of Oropa was inserted by UNESCO in the World Heritage List.

Biella is an important wool processing and textile center. There is a small airport in the nearby comune of Cerrione.





That the first inhabitants of the area were Ligurians and Celts has been ascertained from archaeological finds: they lived near streams and lakes, at first fishermen and hunters, and later, herders.

A Ligurian people, the Victimuli, fanned out in the plain of Biella (the Bessa) and exploited gold veins near the Elvo, an activity which continued through the early Middle Ages, and even today panning for gold continues as a local hobby.

In the late 1950s, Bronze Age — or, according to some, Iron Age — tools and necklaces, attesting to Biella's antiquity, were found in the Burcina Reserve.

Middle Ages

The city's name appears for the first time as Bugella in a document of 826 recording to the donation of Bugella to Count Busone by Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne), Holy Roman Emperor; a further document of 882 records some land transactions of Charles the Fat in favor of the church of Vercelli.

In the 10th century the town was inhabited by Alemanni, Lombards and Franks, who built the first walls as a defense against barbarian invasions. Extant remains from this period include the Lombard Romanesque Baptistry and the adjacent church of S. Stefano, around which the town grew: it is today's cathedral, although the original 5th century building was demolished in 1872.

On April 12, 1160, Uguccione, bishop of Vercelli, granted important trade privileges to anyone residing on Piazzo hill, as an incentive to the estt of a place of refuge against the warfare between the Guelphs and Ghibellines of Vercelli: this was the birth of the Borgo del Piazzo, site of the handsome public square, the Piazza Cisterna, and a Palace fronting on it, the doors of which have stone capitals and terracotta ornaments.

Bishop Uguccione's castle was destroyed in a revolt in 1377 that led to the subjection of Biella, along with its dependent comuni, to the yoke of the house of Savoy.

The interior of the cathedral in Biella is a masterpiece of trompe-l'oeil.

Modern times

In the 14th and 15th centuries the Visconti family competed with Savoy for the possession of the Biella region. The 17th century saw a similar competition between French and Spanish forces, and Biella was actually occupied in 1704; in 1706 Pietro Micca, a Biellese soldier, saved nearby Turin from a siege that would have meant the invasion of Biella by the French as well — but paid for it with his own life.

In 1798 Biella was once again occupied by the French, and after the battle of Marengo, Biella was formally annexed by France. The Congress of Vienna returned it to Savoy.

In 1859 Biella was besieged by the Austrians but Garibaldi forced an end to the siege, and the town became part of the province of Novara, losing its status as regional capital that it had received in the 17th century from Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy; it was transferred to the province of Vercelli in 1927.

In World War II Biella was the scene of armed resistance.

In 1992, the new province of Biella was formed, separating the territory from the north-western sector of the province of Vercelli.

Wool in the life of Biella

In 1245 the statutes of Biella were already referring to the woolworkers' and weavers' guilds: hardly surprising in view of the region's high mountain pastures and copious water supply needed for washing fleece and powering mills. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as elsewhere in Italy, silk was an important industry, and a silk manufacture was built in town in 1695: in 1835, however, the town's textile history came round full circle when the same building was put to use as a wool factory with the introduction of mechanical looms, putting Biella at the forefront of modern improvements in the industry. Since 1999/2000, a progressively worse crisis in the sector forced many local wool mills to close, since they cannot compete with the extremely low prices of fabric and clothing from China.

Main sights

Twin towns

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Biella is in Piedmont.

Get in

By Plane

The nearest airports to Biella are:

  • Milan Malpensa 60-70 minutes drive via SS roads or highway
  • Milan Linate 70-80 drive via highway
  • Turin's Caselle about 60-70 minutes drive via highway

There is also a little airport in Verrone.

  • SS n. 135 Vercellese
  • A4 highway Torino - Milano (Santhià or Carisio exits)
  • A5 highway Torino - Aosta (Viverone or Ivrea exits)
  • A26 highway Genova - Gravellona Toce (Romagnano Sesia exit)

By Train

Biella is connected with the stations of Santhià and Novara on the Torino - Milano line.

Get around

The town is not large, and most of the sights can be seen comfortably on foot. Getting to Biella Piazzo (the upper town) can be quite tiring on foot, but there is a funicolare (a kind of tram) linking the two parts of the town.


Biella offers has a great and important heritage in architectural, artistic and archaeological field. From the findings of the Roman epoch preserved in the Museo del Territorio (Museum of the Biellese Territory) [1], to the Romanesque architecture, testified by the splendid Baptistery and by the high St. Stephan bell tower.

The medieval village of Piazzo, built on the top of a hill, is different from the rest of the town for its old mansions, its arcades and paved streets, along which there are the ancient doors once used to close the village.

Biella Piazzo by night
Biella Piazzo by night

In the plain town, there are the Basilica and the cloister of St. Sebastian. The latter is a magnificent example of the Renaissance architecture, richly frescoed inside. There also is the Baroque church of SS Trinity, facing the busy pedestrian street, not very far from the Baptistery. Along the Cervo river some imposing evidences of the 1800’s industrial settlements raise, which make this place an important industrial archaeological site to discover.

The recently open Museum of the Territory represents an ideal starting point for the Biellese discovery. A visit to the collections and to the findings hosted in the museum gallery is a cue for deepening what you know about the local reality. It is worth noting, among the archaeological sites, the discovery of the suggestive goldmine of the Roman epoch in the Bessa Natural Reserve, where the high heaps of stones, wastes of the golden mining, take a unique and mysterious look.

  • Trekking itineraries [2]
  • Other outdoor activities [3]
  • Free climbing and trekking [4]
  • Cross Country at Bocchetto Sessera [5]
  • Ski at Bielmonte [6]
  • Bessa Natural Reserve [7]
  • Zegna Oasis [8]
  • Burcina Natural Reserve
  • Baragge Orientated Reserve
  • The Wine Routes - The itinerary through the lands and wines of the Biella district departs from Lake Viverone, a popular resort surrounded by the slopes producing the Doc wines of Canavese and Erbaluce. In addition to the water sports offered by the resort, the lake's natural environment is perfect for pleasant rambles on foot, bicycle or horseback. Roppolo Castle, headquarters of the Enoteca Regionale della Serra, is nearby where all the region's wines can be tasted and purchased. From there, Biella is within easy reach by road, where it is possible to visit the the town's medieval centre, Piazzo, try Canestrelli, the town's delicious traditional sweet, or Ratafià, a characteristic liqueur produced in nearby Andorno, before visiting Europe's third largest Sanctuary at Oropa, a monumental place of pilgrimage. This is also an obligatory culinary pause to enjoy the Sanctuary's renowned hot chocolate, or a plate of polenta concia (maize porridge with fondue cheese) in one of the numerous nearby restaurants. From Biella it is possible to visit Candelo, known for its beautifully preserved late medieval fortification, the Ricetto. Spread over 13,000 square metres, this Ricetto (the italian name means "refuge") is listed as one of the best conserved in Europe. Candelo itself is surrounded by one of the district's nature reserves, the Riserva Naturale della Baraggia, a wild and evocative apparently flat plain linking Biella with the Po valley. From Candelo, the itinerary proceeds toward the east of the district, along the modern highway between Biella and Cossato, to visit the district's other Doc wine producing areas, Lessona, Bramaterra and Coste del Sesia. This is the green heart of the district stretching from Masserano, where a visit to the medieval centre is a must-do, to Sostegno, an enchanting little village immersed in the green hills. Well known among mushrooms hunters, the area is also the ideal place for rambles through its beautiful vineyards in any seasons, along the footpaths that lead to the Valsessera, a mountainous area between Biella and the Sesia valley. This wonderfully uncontaminated environment is still home to chamois, deer and marmot. Naturally, the area has a good number of restaurants offering the district's traditional dishes, accompanied by the wines these splendid sun-kissed hills produce each year.


Biella is internationally known for its production of high quality wools and yarns, so business is taken very seriously here. Well equipped hotels and top quality conference centers are widely available for meetings and conventions that are set in a historical-environmental context of great importance.

More than 50 outlet stores are found alongside Europe's most prestigious textile companies. Here quality and good prices come hand in hand; what could be a better souvenir from Biella than a cashmere coat or a beautiful piece of fabric purchased at cost?

  • Cheeses - The Biellese is rich in cheeses, one of the best known of which is toma, a hard cheese made of cows' milk that has a long tradition across Alps. It is produced using full-cream (Maccagno) or partially skimmed milk, and also the cheeses of the Biellese valleys are protected by a D.O.C. warranty mark of the Piedmont Region. Beddu, a cheese made of skimmed milk that is as wide as toma but only two fingers high, is typical of the area around Pralungo: it is eaten fresh or after being matured on straw. The fresh cheeses are characterized by their quality and variety (sordevolo, ricotta, tumin), and this is also true of the goat cheeses, be they fresh, mature or variously flavoured.
  • Salamis - The most widespread are salam 'd l'ula, (i.e. preserved in fat), which are prepared using pork, salt, pepper and, sometimes, red wine: equally characteristic are salam 'd vaca (beef), salam d'asu (donkey), and those made from goat's meat. More localized examples include salam 'd patata (which includes boiled potatoes and little blood) and paletta di Coggiola, a shoulder of ham flavoured with salt and pepper, that is then packed into bladder skins and left to dry in the air. Cheeses and salamis can be found in specialist shops, and during weekly markets and village fairs.
  • Sweets - Torcetti, paste 'd melia (made of cornflour) and turcetùn (large torcetti made using a less rich pastry) are still produced according to traditional recipes by some confectioners (particularly in Andorno, Pollone and Biella). The confectioners of Biella and Cossato make canestrelli (fragrant wafers made of chocolate and hazelnuts). At Crevacuore, it is possible to find home-made canestrej, which are chocolate wafers cooked between the plates of a red-hot grill and prepared according to a recipe that dates back to the XVII century.
  • Honey and fruits mustards - The large variety of blossoms in the area make it possible to choose from among a wide range of honeys, the most common of which are acacia, chestnut, linden, rhododendron, dandelion and mountain flower. In the Biellese, as well as being used as a sweetener, honey is traditionally served with polenta. During the course of village markets and festivals, it is still possible to find apple and grape mustards, which are prepared by slowly boiling the fruit (sometimes for more than 12 hours) in order to create a thick, dark syrup to accompany boiled meats, fresh cheese, polenta and paletta.
  • Primi piatti - Together with dairy products, the real protagonists of this originally genuinely rustic cuisine are its soups, broths and polenta, a type of corn-meal mush. One of the traditional dishes of the Oropa valley (but whose fame haas now spread beyond the borders of Biellese) is "pulenta cunscia", a soft and creamy corn mush cooked for a long time in a special copper pot called "paiolo", in which a large quantity of local cheese is melted and mixed with tasty dairy butter; and the same condiments are used to flavour "ris an cagnùn", a dish of boiled rice mixed with toma and lightly fried butter. Both of these simple and ancient preparations bring together the resources of the Alps and the plain. Rice is also a fundamental ingredient of "mactabe", a thick soup that made up the evening meal for many generations of the people in the Biellese, "ris e riundele" (rice and malva), and "minestra marià" (rice with beets or wild spinach), to name just some of the primi piatti which, depending on the season and the valley, contribute towards the gastronomic repertoire of the province. The bread-based soups also have a wide variety of flavours, and include the excellent "supa mitunà" which, in the spring, is enriched with the unpredictable - sometimes sweet, sometimes bitterish, sometimes very marked - taste of wild herbs and, in the winter, is completely transformed by the use of leeks and savoy cabbage.
  • Secondi Piatti - Meat, which was once only rarely and triumphantly presented (stuffed hen, rabbit in "scivé" and stuffed "sacoccia" were reserved for special occasions) now enters as a timid ingredient, together with eggs, vegetables and garden herbs, in roulades of "capunet" - wrapped in beet or cabbage leaves - squash flowers and onions. There are many different types of salami (one of the most common being "salam 'd l'ula": i.e. preserved in fat), which are also used in the preparation of such traditional dishes as "frità rugnusa" (a type of salami omelette) or "verzata" (a rich soup of savoy cabbage and salami that is almost a meal in itself). The trout of the mountain streams and the whitefish of the Lake Viverone are justly renowned for their delicacy.
  • Specialties - Although every village has its own particular sweet, one that is typical of the Biellese as a whole is "l'arsumà", a soft mousse of egg and sugar diluted with milk or wine, which should be eaten with torcetti and biscuits fresh from the oven, or with the thin cornflour wafers called "miasce". The mineral waters of the Biellese are famous for their exceptional lightness (the water Lauretana, low in mineral content, today is the heir of an ancient hydrotherapeutic tradition), but there is also no lack of wine, including some well-known D.O.C.; Biella is also the home of Menabrea, one of the best lagers in the world. Finally, particular mention should be made of Ratafià di Andorno, a drink made of wild cherries steeped in alcohol according to a 500-year-old recipe.
  • Bramaterra - Born from the fortunate combination of the Nebbiolo vine and the particular nature of the terrain of this region, which provides its natural habitat, it is a formidable wine, full of flavour, velvety, with a characteristic garnet red colour and a pleasantly bitterish undertone. Its production area lies between Masserano, Brusnengo, Curino, Villa del Bosco and Sostegno. An ideal companion for: game and red meats in general. Grape: Nebbiolo (Spanna) 50/70%, Croatina 20/30%, Bonarda and Vespolina, alone or together, up to 20%. Minimum alcohol content: 12%. Ageing: obligatory 2 years, of which at least 18 months in wooden barrels.
  • Canavese - Most recent addition to Piedmont's D.O.C. wines. The appellation "Canavese" is divided into "Red", "Rosè", "White", "Nebbiolo" and "Barbera". Production area: Cavaglià, Dorzano, Roppolo, Salussola, Viverone, Zimone.
  • Coste della Sesia - Very recently approved according to D.O.C. regulations ,the wines of this appellation are divided into: "Red", "Rosè", "White", "Nebbiolo", or "Spanna", "Bonarda" or "Uva rara", "Croatina" and "Vespolina". Production area: Lessona, Masserano, Brusnengo, Curino, Villa del Bosco, Sostegno, Cossato, Mottalciata, Candelo, Quaregna, Cerreto Castello, Valdengo and Vigliano Biellese.
  • Lessona - A rare and precious wine, this is produced in the hilly area from which it takes its name, a few kilometres from Biella. A garnet red colour with hints of orange as it ages; intense bouquet, fine and delicate, reminescent of violet; dry, pleasantly tannic flavour, agreeable, with great character and a persistent after taste. An ideal companion for: game and red meat in general. Grape: Nebbiolo (Spanna), Vespolina and Bonarda may also be present up to 25%. Minimum alcohol content: 12%. Ageing: obligatory 2 years, one of which in wooden barrels.
  • Erbaluce - One of the Region's few white wines. Production area: the province of Turin, with Caluso as its epicentre, extending up to the Canavese and Biella districts. In the province of Biella it can be found in Viverone, Roppolo and Zimone, where the terrain is of glacial origin and ideally exposed.
    • Erbaluce di Caluso - Intense straw-yellow with hints of gold; subtle, delicate bouquet, reminescent of flowers of the field; dry, agreeably acidic persistent taste. An ideal companion for: appetizer and fish. Grape: Erbaluce 100%. Minimum alcohol content: 11%. Ageing: not contemplated.
    • Caluso Passito - A brilliant yellowy-gold colour with a hint of shadow; characteristic ethereal, delicate bouquet; its flavour is sweet, harmonious, full-bodied and velvety, the result of a long process which demands that the grapes are hand-borne to the press to avoid damage by lying them on straw lined gratings. Before pressing, the grapes are left to "appassire" (a kind of drying process) for a few months (hence the name "passito"). Grape: Erbaluce, sometimes with local Bonarda (5%). The grapes must be naturally dried to give a sugar content no lower than 30%. Minimum alcohol content: 13,5%. Ageing: obligatory for 5 years, blending with wines from other vintages is allowed in this time.
    • Erbaluce Spumante Brut (sparkling) - Most recent addition to the Erbaluce family, this wine is slightly sparkling with a pale straw colour; light evanescent froth and fine, persistent perlage; characteristic delicate bouquet and dry, fresh, fruity flavour. Grape: Erbaluce 100%. Minimum alcohol content: 11.5%. Ageing: none.
  • Menabrea One of the best european beers, made on limited volumes in artisan way.
  • Ratafià Rapa - One of the oldest and important piemonteese liquor, from Andorno Micca. [9]

Get out

Other places of interest in the Biella area

  • Oropa - one of the most important catholic sanctuary of Italy and Europe
  • Candelo - nice village with the old Ricetto
  • Viverone lake small beautiful lake in Biella province
  • Valsesia Mountains, rafting, trekking
  • Orta lake Beautiful and romantic lake in Verbania province [10]
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BIELLA, a':town and episcopal see of Piedmont, Italy, in the province of Novara, 55 m. N.E. of Turin by rail, and 38 m. direct, situated on the S. edge of the lower Alps. Pop. (1901) town, commune, 19,267. The old town (1558 ft.) lies on a hill above the new town, and is reached from it by a cable tramway. It has fine palaces with decorations in terra-cotta; and a modern bath establishment is situated here. The new town contains the 15th-century cathedral and the fine Renaissance church of S. Sebastiano; near the former is a baptistery of the 9th century. It is a considerable manufacturing centre for woollens, silks and cottons, electric power being furnished by the torrents descending from the mountains at the foot of which it lies. It is frequented as a tourist centre, and several hydropathic establishments and mountain resorts lie in the vicinity.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also biella



Proper noun




  1. Province of Piedmont, Italy.
  2. Town and capital of Biella.


  • Bulgarian: Биела
  • French: Biella (1, 2)
  • Italian: Biella (1), Biella f. (2)



Proper noun


  1. Biella (province)
  2. Biella (town)


Simple English

Comune di Biella
Baptistery of Biella
Country Italy
Region Piedmont
Province Biella (BI)
Mayor Vittorio Barazzotto
Elevation 420 m (1,378 ft)
Area 46.68 km2 (18 sq mi)
Population (as of 2007)
 - Total 46,126
 - Density 988/km² (2,559/sq mi)
Time zone CET, UTC+1
Coordinates 45°34′N 08°04′E / 45.567°N 8.067°E / 45.567; 8.067
Gentilic Biellesi
Dialing code015
Postal code 13900
Patron St. Stephen
 - Day December 26

Location of Biella in Italy

Biella (it:Biella) is an Italian city in Piemonte of 45,822 inhabitants.


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