Biella (Bièla in Piedmontese) is an Italian town of 43,362 inhabitants, the capital of the province of the same name in northern Piedmont. The city is located at the foot of the Biellese Alps, and its existence has been attested since the early Middle Ages. Subsequently dominated by the bishops of Vercelli, in 1379 it passed to the Savoy family. During the nineteenth century it experienced a great urban and industrial development, soon becoming known for its textile industries.

There are numerous historical and artistic testimonies of the city's past; among the most important are the baptistery, the cathedral, the bell tower of Santo Stefano and numerous villas and palaces.

Since 2019 it has been a UNESCO Creative City for folk arts and crafts.


Monuments and places of interest

Sacred architecture

In the city there is a large place of worship is the Marian Sanctuary of Oropa, located a dozen kilometers from the capital and a destination for pilgrimages of Marian devotion.

In the city center, however, there is the cathedral, dedicated to the patron saint Santo Stefano.

Also in the lower town there are important monuments such as the Romanesque Baptistery (10th-11th century) with frescoes from the 13th century inside and the Renaissance basilica of San Sebastiano (1504), still intact inside, which preserves excellent paintings by Piedmontese artists, including Rodolfo Morgari (The Prophet Daniel, fresco of the pendentives of the dome, dating back to 1866). The cloister of San Sebastiano houses the Territory Museum, which displays finds from a Roman necropolis, ceramics and paintings, especially from the last two centuries.


Civil architecture

The Piazzo
The city of Biella itself is also of tourist interest with its historic core of the Piazzo, rich in medieval atmospheres and valuable 15th and 16th century palaces: an example is Palazzo Cisterna located in the homonymous square.

Connecting rod plan
Of particular interest in terms of architecture are the Palazzo dell'Unione Industriale, an example of the fascist style[28] by Nicola Mosso, and the modern Palazzo Boglietti, home to a cultural centre.

Ronco Palace
Built in 1925 according to the plans of the architect Gottardo Gussoni, in neo-Gothic style.


Parks and nature

Places of environmental tourist importance are:
in Val Cervo, the Zegna Oasis and the Bielmonte ski center (near Trivero), reached by the Strada Statale 232 Panoramica Zegna)
the Burcina Park, a nature reserve with protected flora
the territory of Bessa
the regional nature reserve called delle Baragge, a green area that surrounds the south-eastern part of the city
the Ricetto di Candelo, an ancient medieval village.


Getting here

By plane
The closest airports are:
Milan-Malpensa 60–70 minutes by car.
Turin-Caselle about 60–70 minutes.

By car
From Turin: A4 motorway, Santhià exit, take the provincial road 143, towards Biella.
From Milan and Novara: A4 motorway, exit Carisio, take the provincial road 230, towards Biella.
From Genoa: A26 motorway, Vercelli exit, take the provincial road 230, towards Biella.

On the train
Along the Turin-Milan line, two lines depart respectively from the Novara and Santhià stations to reach Biella and touch the main localities in the area.


Getting around

The city is not large and most of the tourist attractions can be seen comfortably on foot. Getting to Biella Piazzo (the upper city) can be quite tiring on foot, but there is a funicular (a kind of tram) that connects the two parts of the city.

By public transport
There are bus lines that cross the city and connect Biella with nearby cities


Physical geography

Biella is located at the foot of the Biellese Alps, a section of the Pennine Alps, in the middle of mountain reliefs rich in springs (Bo massif, Mucrone mountains - with the lake of the same name - and Camino, the heart of this section) which feed the Elvo streams to the west of the city, Oropa and Cervo to the east.

It is 72 km from Turin, 86 from Aosta, 100 from Milan and 129 from Lugano.

Distance from the other Piedmontese provinces: 42 km from Vercelli, 56 km from Novara, 97 km from Alessandria and Verbania, 102 km from Asti and 190 km from Cuneo.



The climate of Biella is typical of the pre-Alpine areas. In winter the thermometer often drops below freezing, with frequent snowfalls and frosts. Spring and autumn are the wettest seasons, with the highest concentrations in May and November. Summer is hot and often sultry; sometimes the temperatures reach or even exceed 30 ° C; thunderstorms are also frequent this season.



Prehistoric finds attest to the presence of Neanderthal hunters / gatherers in the Biella area between 120,000 and 35,000 years ago. Homo sapiens, on the other hand, appeared in the Upper Palaeolithic, around 35,000 years ago, as evidenced among others by some findings on the Bric Burcina (today on the border between the municipalities of Biella and Pollone). The presence of a protohistoric settlement dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages is also documented on this site.

The Vittimuli or Victimuli mine settled along the territories of the Bessa area (Biella plain) and exploited the gold deposits that after the glaciations had dissolved in the Elvo stream. This exploitation continued even in Roman times and still continues, albeit as a simple hobby.

On the hill where the present Burcina Park stands, work tools and jewelry dating back to the Iron Age were found in 1959, testifying to the ancient origins of Biella.


A document from the year 826 attests how the then Bugella was donated to Count Bosone by Ludovico il Pio (son of Charlemagne), Holy Roman Emperor, of which Bosone was a commander.

This is the first time that the name of the city appears in an official text; another document (year 882) then testifies to another transfer, this time by Carlo il Grosso to the Church of Vercelli.

The name Bugella derives from the Celtic-Latin binata of bu-cellae where cellae means place of residence, while the prefix bu is an intensive particle to indicate its minor importance, in this case compared to Vercelli where the prefix "ver" means precisely greater importance.

In the 10th century the city was dominated by the Alemanni, Lombards and Franks, who built the first walls. From this period only the Baptistery and the bell tower of a church dedicated to Santo Stefano (now the name of the current city cathedral) remain around which the city grew.

The medieval village of Piazzo
The Piazzo, a medieval village which forms the upper part of Biella, is considered the heart of the city and was the seat of the town hall until the 19th century. Inside the village you can admire typically medieval architectural ideas such as Piazza Cisterna and the thirteenth-century church of San Giacomo. The village is connected to the rest of the city with numerous coasts and medieval climbs, but it can be accessed more comfortably using the funicular.

Rivalry between the Visconti and the Savoy
Between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries there were numerous clashes between the Visconti and the Savoy to conquer the possession of the Biellese. In 1377 a city revolt led by the canon Ardizzone Codecapra put an end to the dominion of the Bishops of Vercelli, with the dedication to the Savoy. At the end of the fifteenth century the Basilica of San Sebastiano was built.

17th and 18th centuries
The seventeenth century instead saw wars against the French and the Spanish and the city was occupied by the first ones in 1704; in 1706 the heroic Biella soldier Pietro Micca saved the city of Turin and consequently Biella from the French invasion at the cost of his own life.

On 1 June 1772 the diocese of Biella was erected.

However, in 1798 Biella was again occupied by the French with the approval of the Biella liberals who hoped for a prosperous and conflict-free future. In the square of the church of Santo Stefano the tree of freedom was raised. After the battle of Marengo, the city was annexed to France. The Congress of Vienna gave it back to the Savoy family again.

The way of wool

In 1835, Massimo Sella bought a building from 1695 along the banks of the Cervo stream that had first been used for silk twisting and which would later be transformed into a wool mill, while in 1866 the noble Giovanni Battista Rivetti Badone founded the Rivetti spinning mill. Father and Son in Strona.

With the introduction of the new mechanical looms, the first modern woolen mill was born, with a wool processing that continued a tradition dating back more than five hundred years earlier, considering that already in 1245 the Collegio dei Lanaioli and that of the Weavers.

In 1859 Biella was freed from the siege of the Austrian troops by Garibaldi; following the Rattazzi Decree it became the capital of the district of the same name in the province of Novara. It will become part of the province of Vercelli in 1927, to finally become an autonomous province in 1992.

Second World War
In the Second World War Biella - one of the fulcrum cities of the Resistance in Piedmont - was the scene, with its hills and mountains that crown it, making it equal to an impregnable enclave of intense partisan struggles.

The place of memory of the partisan resistance against Nazi-Fascism is Villa Schneider, a historic building which later became the seat of a municipal councilor and a permanent hall of memory set up in memory of the events that took place in the Biellese area in the years from 1943 to 1945.

Recent years
In the final years of the Second World War, Biella was a vital center for the production of Piaggio machinery, which had moved its factories to the Piedmontese city, from Pontedera, at risk due to the bombing of Nazi German troops fleeing towards the North. It was here that in 1944 the progenitor prototype of the "Vespa" was designed, the "Donald Duck", from which in the following years one of the most popular models of motor scooters was derived.

In even more recent years, and in the television field, thanks to the work of the entrepreneur Giuseppe Peppo Sacchi, Telebiella was born in 1971, the first Italian free TV and the first private broadcaster to break the monopoly of Rai (the Sacchi broadcaster then went bankrupt in the eighties but was later reborn under another ownership).

Later, the Aiazzone furniture factory in Biella will also be another important player in the development of local televisions.


The Jewish community of Biella

Biella has been home to a small but significant Jewish community since the 16th century. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, as in the rest of Piedmont, the ghetto was established, in which the small eighteenth-century synagogue is conserved, with its original furnishings. Also noteworthy is the Jewish cemetery of Biella, in via dei Tigli.


Gastronomic specialities

The city of Biella is very famous for the many typical Piedmontese food and wine excellences: macagn, mostarda, local honey, cheeses such as Murtarat and Beddu, cured meats (Salam), pork with boiled potatoes, , rice sausage and other typical regional cured meats. Among the typical desserts we find canestrelli, the crunchy Ciavarin, with an aroma of caramel, almonds and orange blossom, miasce, made with cornmeal, and many other typical Piedmontese delicacies.


Pan d'Oropa

One of the traditional desserts of Biella is the Pan d'Oropa. It was invented in 1935 by some women in the area and was sent to soldiers at war on the Ethiopian front. Today Pan d'Oropa is a specialty prepared in the main bakeries of the city.


Polenta tanning

A typical dish of the Biella tradition is polenta concia which changes significantly from area to area. It is cooked with polenta, butter, toma and/or maccagno.



Every year around the end of October the Biella Festival takes place, organized by the AnniVerdi Artistic Association which attracts songwriters and authors from all over Italy and beyond. The event, now in its twentieth edition, is acquiring ever greater importance. For three years it has been supported by the Biella Music Video Festival, a review reserved for independent music video clips.



Teatro Sociale Villani: opened at the beginning of the 19th century by the Villani brothers, belonging to a rather prominent family in the Biella cultural environment, its first seat was designed by the court architect Fabrizio Sevesi, transforming a pre-existing building located on the Biella plain. Due to the considerable number of visitors, however, it became necessary to build a larger theater which was completed in 1875 in its current location in Piazza Martiri della Libertà by the engineer. Joseph Bollati. Following a fire that occurred on the night of August 16, 1892, the theater had to be partially rebuilt; the most recent restorations date back to 2002 and involved bringing the building up to standard. The activity of the Teatro Sociale Villani has maintained a high quality profile over time and is still characterized as an important presence in the Italian theater scene.

In the theatrical field, the company of the Teatro Stabile di Biella is historic, created by Gianni Franzoi in the 1950s (his participations in RAI and in Swiss TV are many and important) and since 1997 led by Renato Ianni, director and playwright of the School of Dramaturgy by Eduardo De Filippo. With the great Neapolitan master he wrote A fist of water and collaborated in the drafting of Theater Lessons.

Patatrac Teatro has also been active in the area since 1989, which in 2002 became the Patatrac Archipelago Association which manages the Educational Theater Center directed by Massimo Ozino and Franca Bonato. Arcipelago Patatrac takes care of projects, interventions, trainings, shows and also a theater school divided into different didactic and methodological levels for children, adolescents, adults.

Finally A.R.S. Teatrando (Research and Entertainment Association), association and theater company founded in 1988.



Biella has always been at the fore in the world of television. In 1972 Telebiella was born, which was one of the first televisions to break the monopoly of RAI. After a harsh reaction from the Italian government which suppressed television, Telebiella undertook a tough legal battle which was victorious and was able to start broadcasting again. In 1992 Telebiella went bankrupt definitively. In 1993 it was reborn under the name of ReteBiella TV with newscasts, live matches of the local basketball team, as well as newscasts and some broadcasts of RSI LA1 programming.



The economy of Biella and the Biella area is traditionally linked to the textile sector and in particular to the wool sector. The working of wool has ancient origins and has progressively developed determining the economic fabric of the area, with large and important companies in the sector, among which it should be remembered, for the importance they still maintain, even if in part no longer in the hands from Biella, the Ermenegildo Zegna group, the Vitale Barberis Canonico 1663 wool mill, the Cerruti brothers wool mill group, Fila and Filatura di Pollone S.p.A., the latter company listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, the only industrial company in Biella and its province, alongside to the financial holding company Borgosesia S.p.A.

As far as craftsmanship is concerned, the local manufacturing of wrought iron is important, aimed above all at the production of furniture. A great example is the Aiazzone furniture factory

Historical companies in other sectors are also based in Biella, such as Banca Sella, one of the main Italian private banks, founded in 1886 on the initiative of Quintino Sella.

La Menabrea, one of the oldest Italian breweries, was founded in 1846. Tua Ski, a ski manufacturer, was also from Biella, while in 1746 the Avandero company was founded in this city for the transport of textile products.




The most important team in the city is Pallacanestro Biella, a basketball team that played in Serie A1 until the 2012/13 season: on 24 May 2009, by defeating Roma in game 5 of the play-offs, they reached the semi-finals for the first time in history scudetto, then lost against Milan. This result gave Pallacanestro Biella the opportunity to compete in the Eurocup, which took place between December 2009 and January 2010. In the 2013/14 season, Pallacanestro Biella won the DNA Gold Italian Cup. The following season he participated in the EuroChallenge 2014-15.



City football is represented by A.S. Biellese 1902 who, after a professional past in Serie C1 and C2, had to start again in 2009-10 from the regional categories. In fact, in the 2008-09 season they won direct promotion to Lega Pro (formerly C2), but during the summer of 2009 some corporate vicissitudes led to the non-registration in the championship and the consequent relegation to the amateur category of Excellence.



The Lamarmora stadium hosts, in addition to the Sunday matches of the A.S. Biella 1902, also athletics competitions, organized by the Unione Giovane Biella, one of the historic sports clubs in Biella, and by FIDAL, the Italian Athletics Federation, a committee of Biella and Vercelli. In the same stadium, international level athletes Elena Romagnolo, Valeria Roffino, Fatna Maraoui and Nadia Ejjafini also train frequently: Romagnolo is from Trivero by birth, Roffino is from Biella, while Maraoui and Ejjafini are Moroccan athletes with Italian citizenship and long-time residents of the city .



As for other team sports, rugby and volleyball are very important. Biella Rugby, promoted to Serie B at the end of the 2007/08 season, is playing honorable championships in this category, working hard with the youth sector on the brand new synthetic turf field built in the city, the first step towards the construction of the rugby citadel. In the 2012/13 season, Biella Rugby won the Serie B championship and played in the playoffs for access to Serie A2, then won by Unione Rugby Prato Sesto. In the 2017/2018 season, it won promotion to Serie A for the first time in its history.



As far as volleyball is concerned, the leading company is Biella Volley: after ten consecutive seasons in B1 and a couple of promotions that failed by a hair's breadth, the team in 2010/11 plays in B2, the fourth national series. In the women's sector, great rise in the last decade by Virtus, a small reality in the Chiavazza district of the city, which has grown to become a major player in Serie B2: economic problems have reduced the ambitions of the Giallorossi club, which relegated itself to the regional categories (series D) at the end of the 2009/10 season; later the club continued to operate only at the youth level, winning some inter-provincial titles.

Volleyball Biella was active in the city, a consortium that mainly dealt with the youth sector with over 100 registered athletes, born from the collaboration agreement between Asd Virtus Chiavazza, Apd Villaggio Lamarmora, Apd Pietro Micca Biella and Asd Sprint Candelo; now everything is active as SprintVirtus and wears new black and fuchsia uniforms. In recent years, in fact, Virtus Chiavazza has embarked on a new course and, under the name SprintVirtus Biella, won the 2011/12 Serie D championship and therefore conquered a place among the top five in the two subsequent Serie C championships. 2013/14 it also won the Women's Piedmont Cup, finishing third in the subsequent Alpine Cup (competition in which the winning clubs of the regional cups of northern Italy participate). In the 2014/15 season, the team from Biella reached the final of the Coppa Piemonte again, thus being defeated by the team from Oleggio; on 3 June 2015, at the end of an exciting series of races, Logistica Biellese SprintVirtus finally won a new promotion to the national championships, in the 2015/16 season it competed in Serie B2 and in the 2018/19 season with the name Virtus Biella conquered , in the playoffs, promotion to B1. Among the SprintVirtus Biella teams, it is worth mentioning the formation called SprintVirtus Villaggio Lamarmora, coached by Michael Chauviere and which won the PGS National Championships in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons, first in the Under 20 category and then in the Free category. Infa SprintVirtus (the second team of this company, coached by the Argentine Carlos Luigi Di Lonardo, former head coach of the Argentine women's national team) also won the 2013/14 First Division championship by winning all 24 matches played, also losing a only sets against the 72 won; in 2014/15 it took part in the Serie D championship finishing, as a newly promoted player, with an honorable fifth place.



The municipality of Biella has hosted the finish line of a stage of the Giro d'Italia eight times, the first in 1963, the last in 2017. On six occasions the finish line was placed at the Oropa Sanctuary.

Stages of the Giro d'Italia with arrival in Biella:
1964 21st stage Turin-Biella, won by Gianni Motta.
1996 17th stage Lausanne-Biella, won by Nicolai Bo Larsen.

Stages of the Giro d'Italia with arrival at the Sanctuary of Oropa:
1963 11th stage Asti-Santuario di Oropa, won by Vito Taccone.
1993 20th stage Turin-Santuario di Oropa, won by Massimo Ghirotto.
1999 15th stage Racconigi-Santuario di Oropa, won by Marco Pantani.
2007 13th stage Biella-Santuario di Oropa (timed uphill race), won by Marzio Bruseghin.
2014 14th stage Agliè-Santuario di Oropa, won by Enrico Battaglin.
2017 14th stage Castellania-Santuario di Oropa, won by Tom Dumoulin.
2021 3rd stage Biella-Canale, won by Taco van der Hoorn.

Two historic Formula Grand Prix appointments took place in the streets of the historic center of Biella, in 1934 and 1935, hosting world-class drivers such as Achille Varzi, Tazio Nuvolari and Nino Farina.

Biella and its surrounding area also have a great tradition in the field of motor racing and have given birth to numerous drivers who, from the early years of the 20th century until today, have distinguished themselves at national and international level, especially in road races . Among these:

Antonio Brivio Sforza, Carlo Felice Trossi, Giovanni Bracco, the brothers Umberto and Claudio Maglioli, Franco Perazio, Giampiero Bagna, Federico Ormezzano and Piero Liatti.

Piero Liatti is also, to date, the last Italian driver to have won a race in the World Rally Championship, the 1997 Monte Carlo Rally, at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRC 97 of the official 555 Subaru WRT team.

The main car competition in the Biellese area was the Rally della Lana, which ran from 1973 to 2001 and which, since 1982, has been valid for the European Championship. In recent years the engines have started up again in the Biella area, thanks to two rally rounds and the dispute of the Historic Wool Rally (valid for the Italian championship).