Vercelli, Italy

Vercelli is a city in Piedmont. City of art, it is the eleventh city in the region by number of inhabitants, located on the right bank of the Sesia river, and has always been an important agricultural and commercial center, specifically for the rice trade throughout Europe, which is earned the title of European capital of rice.


Geographic hints

The city of Vercelli is located in the Po valley, at an altitude of 130 meters above sea level, north-east of the Po and on the banks of the Sesia. The entire area surrounding the city is flat and is full of watercourses and canals, including the Cavour canal, which allow abundant irrigation of the territory which is essential for the cultivation of rice. The city is located halfway between the cities of Milan and Turin.


When to go

The climate is semi-continental, of the Po Valley type, with cold, foggy winters and hot, very muggy summers (with peaks of 35°C and 60% average relative humidity in the hottest hours). The rains fall mainly in spring and autumn; the rainiest month is May, followed by November. Thunderstorms are common in the period from March to September. Vercelli has a very high humidity rate even in the summer due to the evaporation of the water from the rice fields and it is a city with very little wind.


How to orient yourself

The city retains a very intimate historic center, enclosed by imposing avenues that have taken the place of the ancient medieval walls. The ancient nucleus is cut in two from west to east by Corso della Libertà which represents the main shopping street and nightlife. Piazza Cavour, on the other hand, represents the heart of Vercelli to all intents and purposes and a characteristic market is held there every week.


How to get

By plane
The nearest airport is Milan-Malpensa. From the airport regular bus service to Novara, then train; alternatively Malpensa Express shuttle to Milan, then train.

From Turin-Caselle airport, bus to Turin Porta Susa or Porta Nuova station, then train.

By car
Vercelli can be reached according to the greatest convenience based on the origin:

A4 motorway from Milan up to km 447, where it is necessary to take the detour to the A26 Genova, then exit at the Vercelli Est toll booth;
Take the A4 motorway from Turin to km 43, where you need to take the detour to Alessandria-Genova, exiting at the Vercelli Ovest tollbooth;
Take the A26 motorway from Genoa, taking the Vercelli Est exit.

On the train
Vercelli station, located on the Turin-Milan line.

By bus
Daily bus lines connect Vercelli with Valsesia, Biella, Casale Monferrato, Chivasso, Ivrea and Novara.

Possible connections also with Turin and Milan.


Getting around

Vercelli is a very quiet city, which offers an excellent network of avenues, cycle paths and pedestrian areas. An excellent means of getting around is on foot. Arriving by train, for example, the city center can be reached in just a few minutes, and you will have the opportunity to observe and visit some great monuments and buildings.

Traveling by car, it will often be difficult to find parking near places of interest, unless you leave your car in the car park adjacent to the basilica of Sant'Andrea, located in the centre, and worthy of a visit.

Vercelli offers an excellent bus network, thanks to which you can travel around the city center, with numerous intermediate stops. There are also various lines that lead to the most decentralized areas of the city, where we can find shopping and entertainment venues.

The city center is a restricted traffic zone.



Vercelli, after Turin and together with Asti, is one of the main art cities of Piedmont as guardian of a rich artistic and architectural heritage. Despite the presence of some heavy post-war alterations, churches, towers, squares and palaces characterize the medieval historic center of the city.


Religious architecture

St Andrew's Abbey
The abbey is the symbol of Vercelli and its most famous monument. The basilica, built in just nine years between 1219 and 1227 at the behest of Cardinal Guala Bicheri, occupies a prominent place in the history of art as it is one of the very first examples of Gothic beyond the Alps in Italy, splendidly fused with the style Lombard Romanesque. The gabled façade is narrow at the end by two soaring cuspidate bell towers and is covered in green stone from Varallo. The same is crossed horizontally by two orders of loggias below which the large rose window opens. Two of the three splayed entrance portals have lunettes from the Antelamic school. The pure Gothic structures, on the other hand, enhance the majestic interior with three naves and a very high transept, while the octagonal tower of the lantern rises at the crossroads. Among the buildings of the abbey, the cloister with Renaissance decorations and the remarkable chapter house stand out. Among the works of art, in addition to the inlaid choir from 1511, there is the Tomb of the first abbot, the exegete Tommaso Gallo, with frescoes from the 14th century.

Duomo (Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Sant'Eusebio)
The imposing neoclassical cathedral that can be admired today is the final result of architectural vicissitudes that began at the end of the 4th century at the behest of Sant'Eusebio, first bishop of Vercelli and Piedmont. He had a church dedicated to the first local Christian martyr, San Teonesto, built in a necropolis area on the edge of the city, later replaced by a grandiose Paleo-Christian basilica (5th century and following) on the model of ancient San Pietro in Rome, equipped with a Chapter and site of an important scriptorium. What remains of it are the severe Romanesque bell tower (12th century) but above all the grandiose crucifix in silver foil, a masterpiece of Ottonian art (10th century). During the Counter-Reformation it was decided to demolish the ancient building starting from the apse which was rebuilt in 1570 to a design by Pellegrino Tibaldi together with the sacristies. The chapel of Blessed Amedeo IX was then built by Michelangelo Garove, a pupil of Guarini and again under the supervision of architects of the Savoy court, the works will continue with the construction of the three naves, the side chapels and the neoclassical atrium based on designs by Benedetto Alfieri. In 1860 the dome was finally raised.

St Christopher's Church
Built in 1515, this church boasts splendid masterpieces by Gaudenzio Ferrari, the most illustrious exponent of Piedmontese Renaissance painting. In addition to the altarpiece of the Madonna degli Aranci, the Valsesian artist created a vast cycle of frescoes representing the Stories of Mary Magdalene, the Stories of the Virgin Mary, the Crucifixion, the Assumption of the Virgin as well as an elegant grotesque frieze. In the altarpiece there is painted one of the first pictorial representations of the violin. The sacred building preserves the sixteenth-century structure with a Renaissance-style facade, the division into three naves with a lantern, transept and vast presbytery. This is separated from the hall by an elegant balustrade designed by Filippo Juvarra (1730), while the vault and walls were frescoed between 1742 and 1746 in trompe l'oeil by the Giovannini brothers from Varese. Also from the same period date the pulpit, the choir stalls, the confessionals and the wardrobes of the sacristy, refined Baroque carvings. Also noteworthy is the valuable wooden crucifix on the main altar, a Gaudenzian crucifix from the 16th century, the side chapel of the right aisle faithfully reproducing the Holy House of Loreto and the paintings by Mayerle kept in the sacristy.

Church of San Giuliano
Tradition has it that the church is very old and that St. Eusebius found refuge there when he was persecuted by the Arians. As a reminder of this fact, by custom, the bishops, before taking possession of their office, once they arrived in the city dressed in pontifical clothes in this church and then reached in procession first Santa Maria Maggiore and finally the Cathedral. Located on Corso Libertà, it maintains the traditional east-west orientation. Remodeled over the centuries, the interior on the columns has interesting frescoes by Girolamo Giovenone and Bernardino Lanino. Always the same author painted in 1547 the Deposition present in copy (the original is in the Archiepiscopal Art Gallery). There are also an Adoration of the Magi and a Resurrection by the Gaudentian school. Walled in the bell tower is a head from a Roman statue.

Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
Under the same title, located about 100 meters away, stood the first Christian church of the city (4th century) as well as the first cathedral. Rebuilt in the XII century. it housed works of art of great value. Demolished in 1777, only fragments of the floor mosaic and the Romanesque portal remain. The construction of the current building instead began in 1741 on behalf of the Jesuits and on designs by Filippo Juvarra. Following the dissolution of the order, it assumed the title and rank of Basilica and Co-Cathedral of the previous church.

St Paul's Church
The construction of the church began in 1260 at the behest of the Dominican fathers. The brick gabled facade with rose window and the first three bays of Gothic style remain of the original building. In the 18th century the remaining two bays and the apse were rebuilt in late Baroque style. Inside there are two works by Bernardino Lanino, a Nativity and the altarpiece, the Madonna delle Grazie. Painted in 1568, it is enclosed in a gilded frame surmounted by the civic coat of arms since the painting was commissioned by the city as a votive offering for the liberation from French troops. In a passageway towards the sacristy there is a fresco of a Theory of Saints from the 14th century. The fifteenth-century bell tower is impressive with elegant mullioned windows and surmounted by an octagonal spire.

Church of San Bernardo
The church is the oldest existing ecclesiastical monument in Vercelli, erected in Romanesque style between 1151 and 1168. The characteristic gabled facade in brick, the sculptures of the same and the internal capitals constitute an important testimony of the local sculpture of the XII century. It is home to an important center of popular Marian devotion, the Diocesan Sanctuary of the Madonna degli Infermi which according to tradition freed the population from the plague in 1630. To contain the growing flow of faithful, it was enlarged during the 19th century, unfortunately demolishing its lantern and apse. Finally, in 1896 there was a second much larger expansion based on a project by Giuseppe Locarni in a neo-Romanesque style.

Church of Santa Chiara
Designed by Bernardo Antonio Vittone in 1754 in pure Baroque style, it is now used as an exhibition space. The elegant and slender facade has refined curvilinear motifs that make the internal movements of the plant appear on the outside. The interior is extremely bright with a harmonious vertical development. The layout is hexagonal with rounded convex corners, decorated by lively frescoes and stuccos. The monastic complex built by the Poor Clares consists of a courtyard where you can admire the apse ambulatory designed by Ignazio Galletti, the monastery now home to the Vallotti Municipal School of Music and the medieval wing now home to the Archaeological Museum of the City of Vercelli "Luigi Bruzza ". Attached to the church there is also the Gothic cloister of San Graziano.

Former Church of San Marco ARCA Exhibition Center
Once one of the most important and vast churches in the city, seat of the burials of the most illustrious families after enormous alterations, it is now home to an important exhibition space. Begun in 1266, it has an interior with three naves supported by cylindrical pillars. With the Napoleonic suppression of the monastic orders it experienced various uses until it became a covered market, for this purpose the facade was distorted and the floor raised. In the 2000s the recovery of the building began which led to the discovery of a vast cycle of frescoes which are being restored.

Archbishop's Seminary
Founded in 1572-87 by the will of Bishop Francesco Bonomi, it consists of a series of buildings whose oldest part was designed by Filippo Juvarra. Namely the elegant internal courtyard and the terracotta rear facade. In the hall of Sant'Eusebio there are also frescoes by Bernardino Lanino with Scenes from the Aeneid. The Seminary also houses the Agnesiana and Diocesana Libraries which house a rich heritage of parchments and ancient books.

Archbishop's Palace
It stands against the Cathedral in Piazza D'Angennes and has been the archiepiscopal residence for at least seven centuries. Large portions of large Renaissance terracotta windows are visible on the façade, while walled mullioned windows and mullioned windows can be seen in the internal courtyards. Many rooms are decorated with grotesque frescoes and coffered ceilings and in the Throne Room there is the updated Cronotassi of the Archbishops. Due to its importance, it has hosted many Dukes of Savoy during their periods of stay in the city. Currently the museum of the treasure of the Cathedral and the archive and the Capitulary Library are located there.

Vercelli is home to an important Jewish community in Italy. The presence of Jews in the city has been documented since 1446, but reached its maximum expansion in 1848, when it had over 600 members. Precisely in the 19th century a vast Synagogue by the architect Giuseppe Locarni was inaugurated, characterized by a particular facade with two-tone bands in sandstone. In addition to the Jewish temple, there is also the nineteenth-century cemetery, enlarged in 1914 and recently restored.


Civil architectures

Centori palace
Built in the 15th century, it is considered the most beautiful secular monument of the Vercelli Renaissance. Home of the Centori patrician family, it has preserved the extraordinary Bramante-style internal courtyard, the only example in Piedmont. The rectangular courtyard is made up of ten columns supporting round arches, the loggia above has twice the number of columns and the same arches. The pillars supporting the vault rest on these. The decorative apparatus is interesting: the fresco decoration placed between the soffits and the tympanums is an expression of the humanistic culture of the time. The arches are outlined by terracotta ridges and under the parapet there is a terracotta cornice. Between one arch and another there are frescoed heads of emperors while the two friezes between one floor and the other have mythological motifs. After centuries of decline, the building was purchased by the Municipality and completely restored between 1929 and 1934. It was Carlo Nigra who designed the façade in the fifteenth-century style while Carlo Cussetti restored the frescoed surfaces with a reconstructive method. After the restoration completed in 2017 it will be used for cultural purposes.

Dugentil Hall
Preceded by a portico with ogival arches, the Dugentesco was founded in 1223. Originally it was the hospital that welcomed pilgrims. The entrance is surmounted by a painted lunette from the 13th century. The large room, divided lengthwise into three naves with late Gothic vaults and cruciform pillars, preserves a 16th century fresco. Today the hall is used for cultural and musical events.

Civic Theater
The idea of building a theater for the Vercelli aristocracy was born during the period of French domination. The birth of the theater is to be linked to the birth of a society of noble Vercelli citizens who entrusted the architect Nicola Nervi with the design of what would constitute the theater in use until the 1920s. The opening in 1872 of another city theatre, the Fachinetti (future Teatro Verdi) caused a progressive decline in the activity of the Civic Theater until its destruction in 1923 caused by an arson. It was then decided to rebuild it on the same site, in via Monte di Pietà. The current theater designed by Guido Allorio, Paolo Verzone and Giuseppe Rosso is an Italian-style theater with a large audience and a single tier of boxes dominated by the gallery for a total of about 800 seats. It was inaugurated on 28 October 1931 with Giuseppe Verdi's Aida.

As far as the musical offer is concerned, the famous G. B. Viotti International Competition and the Viotti Festival should be underlined, which every month hosts the most famous musicians together with the Orchestra of the Camerata Ducale.

Palazzo Avogadro della Motta
Next to Palazzo Mella stands Palazzo Avogadro della Motta, built in its current form by Count Eusebio in 1781 to a design by Michele Richiardi from Turin. The coat of arms of the Avogadros, one of the most illustrious local families, stands out on the central pediment. Various illustrious personalities stayed in this palace, including Napoleon in 1800 and 1805, King Carlo Felice in 1828 and 1831, Vittorio Emanuele II in 1859 and the Count of Turin in 1902. As reported on a plaque placed on the facade, right during Napoleon's stay, thanks to the intercession of Bishop Carlo Filippa of Martiniana, the negotiations that led to the Concordat between the Holy See and the French Empire began right here.

Palazzo Bartolomeo of Gattinara
The Palace, located in via Camillo Leone, retains a facade with pure Renaissance lines. On the first floor there are seven large windows framed by Guelph cross scores while on the portal we read that Bartolomeo da Gattinara had it built for himself, his friends and posterity in 1541. Bartolomeo (1480-1544) belonging to the patrician Gattinara family, cousin of Mercurino, grand chancellor of Charles V, he had an adventurous life. He was a jurisconsult, chancellor of the Kingdom of Naples, advisor to Charles II of Savoy and even witnessed the Sack of Rome in 1527.

Murazzano Palace
In Piazza D'Angennes, on the site where the medieval hospital of Santa Brigida degli Scoti once stood, an institution created to welcome pilgrims traveling on the Via Francigena from the British Isles, Palazzo Murazzano now stands. The vast seventeenth-century building has a terracotta façade and is divided by ten pilasters with the entrance door surmounted by a balcony supported by four columns. The grand staircase is remarkable. Now it is the headquarters of the mother house of the Sisters of Loreto.

Palazzo Montanaro in Viancino
It stands in the central via Verdi and is an elegant example of Piedmontese Baroque, built in 1753 and has an exposed brick facade. Some critics have attributed the design to Benedetto Alfieri.


The towers

Angel Tower
It rises in the central Piazza Cavour which it dominates with its size. Due to its characteristic shape it is one of the emblems of the city[40]. On the Romanesque square base, the octagonal body was erected between the end of the 14th and 15th centuries, ending with long machicolations that form a small terrace. Above these there was a wooden turret which was later replaced in 1875 by the current elevation with large windows and battlements. On the origin of the curious name, attested since the eighteenth century, various hypotheses have been elaborated over the centuries, traditionally connected to a miracle performed by San Mauro in the city.

Centuri Tower
The simple turret, octagonal in shape, with brick festoons, is visible only from Volto dei Centori, a characteristic, partly covered medieval alley that crosses the block which belonged to the noble family of the same name. It has late Gothic features that date it to the 15th century while the courtyard where it stands has portions of porticoes and loggias from the 16th century, although walled.

Municipal Tower
Built in the 12th century, it has been assumed that it belonged to the noble Vialardi family and was purchased by the municipality in the 13th century. From that moment it became the Tower of the City, seat of the Municipal Archives and an integral part of the Broletto complex. 38 meters high, the highest among the noble towers, it has an unadorned, severe and austere appearance evoking the glorious past of the Free Municipality. As early as 1377 there is news of a clock installed on it, most likely the first in Piedmont, an expensive novelty for the time. There were also three bells, used not only to strike the hours but also to warn citizens in case of danger or of assemblies. After the Municipality moved its headquarters (1802) it still remained a point of reference for the city, so much so that in 1924 the large plaque dedicated to the numerous gold medals of the Province of Vercelli was placed at the base towards via Gioberti. Also in the 20th century consolidation works were necessary as the overhang towards Piazza Palazzo Vecchio reached almost one meter and the clock and bells were removed. Until 1821 it was characterized by a very high spire of 20 meters which was destroyed by lightning and never rebuilt.

San Marco Tower
Long believed to be the surviving tower of a castle belonging to the Avogadro family, it is the bell tower of the former church of San Marco, with its Gothic apse forming a suggestive glimpse of via Verdi. Datable to the XIII century, it is octagonal in shape and has not undergone alterations. Decorated by a single row of intertwined hanging arches and a simple reinforcing pilaster at the corners, it ends in an incomplete trunk. More recent criticism has highlighted similarities with the bell tower of the Lucedio Abbey.

Clock tower
The turret located in Piazza Cavour was originally the bell tower of the church of San Tommaso, a church deconsecrated in 1820. In 1856 the clock was installed and the tower was decorated with cornices and surmounted by a small terrace with a wrought iron balustrade.

Tizzoni Tower
Dating back to the 15th century, it takes its name from the Tizzoni family and forms a single complex with the adjacent building. The tower has a square base and an octagonal development, with machicolations and a floor above with mullioned windows decorated with terracotta arches. Two heavy restorations in 1874 and 1935 altered its original appearance. The palace has large portions of windows and terracotta decorations as well as a courtyard with a 16th century portico and loggia. In the large hall on the lower floor there is a cycle of frescoes painted around 1605 attributed to Guglielmo Caccia called il Moncalvo with the theme "The gods and the muses in Parnassus".

Tower of the Vialardis
The tower of the Vialardi family, a patrician family who moved to the locality where it stands after 1204, has strong similarities with the other octagonal towers in the city. In brick with an octagonal plan, it closes at the top with slightly protruding machicolations on which a plane characterized by pointed windows with terracotta arches is inserted. Elegant and simple, it is the one that best preserves the original characteristics of the building as it has not been tampered with subsequently. The underlying internal courtyard of the building of the same name contains evident traces of a Renaissance portico with deteriorated frescoes.


Military architectures

The Visconti Castle
The castle, with a quadrangular plan, was built in 1290 by order of Matteo I Visconti[57] and later became a Savoyard residence. In 1472 the blessed Amedeo IX died in the left tower of the facade and was later buried in the chapel of the same name in the cathedral. In a second time the military governor of the city resided there and it was seriously damaged in the Spanish siege of 1638. During the 19th century it was adapted as the seat of the prisons and from 1838 of the court which is still housed within its walls today.


Streets and squares

Piazza Cavour
The ancient Piazza Maggiore, located in the heart of the historical centre, is the most important square in Vercelli. For at least eight centuries it has been the main meeting place where the most important moments of city life take place. Among the most notable events that took place there, there was a solemn Exposition of the Shroud in 1560. Paved with cobblestones, it is surrounded by porticoes on all four sides and has a characteristic trapezoidal shape, it also preserves appreciable historical vestiges among which the the Torre dell'Angelo, one of the emblems of the city. This tower forms a characteristic glimpse with the underlying portico, whose elegant terracotta decorations aroused the attention of John Ruskin. The current appearance, albeit with subsequent alterations, dates to 1496, when the Duchess Bianca di Savoia had the square embellished and renovated at her expense. In 1864 it took on its current name and the monument to Camillo Cavour, a statesman very close to the city, was erected. In fact, he himself was involved in the cultivation of rice, he promoted the rice cultivation of the Vercelli area through the creation of the Canale Cavour and the establishment of the Ovest Sesia. Placed on a high base, the statue of the count is the work of Ercole Villa, while the underlying allegories of Agriculture and Commerce are the work of Giuseppe Argenti. Two other personalities have been remembered with monuments: Sodoma, a Mannerist painter who was born and trained in the city and then undertook an important career in Siena and Rome is remembered with the stone bust by Francesco Porzio; Vibio Crispo, from Vercelli famous in the 1st century for his eloquence and his riches with a bas-relief. Home to the twice-weekly market, the square is a restricted traffic area.

Palazzo Vecchio square
Popularly known as Piazza dei Pesci, from the name of the market that was located there, it is a closed square with a trapezoidal shape, the courtyard of the ancient Palazzo Comunale or Broletto. The Town Hall was located here from the 13th century until 1801, but of the original town hall all that remains are the porticoed building with pointed arches dating back to the 13th century, the Civic Tower which dominates it from above, albeit without the ancient clock and the three entrance halls input; while the other buildings were modified during the 19th century. Once the central circular fountain was restored in 1998 and the terracotta flooring was made a pedestrian area. From the entrance hall under the Broletto arcades one reaches Via dei Mercati, a characteristic medieval street, in Piazza Cavour, from another one reaches Via Gioberti, formerly Contrada degli Spadari while the third entrance hall connects it to Piazza Massimo D'Azeglio, originally headquarters of the Arengo. It already became the seat of the market in the 15th century and is still used as a market area today.

Piazza S. Eusebio
Commonly called Piazza del Duomo, it is rectangular in shape surrounded by centuries-old trees and green spaces. The square constitutes a stupendous introduction, due to the skilful use of the spaces, to the spectacular atrium of the Cathedral, the work of Alfieri. On the right, looking at the Cathedral, it is surrounded by the neoclassical facade of the seminary and on the left by the neo-Romanesque former Collegio degli Orfanelli, now used as a university seat. In the central gardens, in addition to a fountain, we find the monument erected in 1909 which celebrates Carlo Alberto, the work of Guido Bianconi of Siena. It is an obelisk with a medallion and four bas-reliefs representing four salient moments in the life of the King: The hero on the battlefield, The cry of freedom, the abdication and the soul in exile. The gardens were dedicated to the memory of Secondo Pollo from Vercelli, beatified in this square by John Paul II on 23 May 1998.

Peter Pajetta Square
Once Piazza Torino, named after the partisan Pietro Pajetta in 1945, it was originally a vast open space that stood in front of the gate that opened into the city walls: Porta Torino. The elegant palaces that surround it were built during the second half of the 19th century. In the center stands the monument dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II inaugurated in 1887, based on a sketch by Ercole Rosa, later created with some variations by Ercole Villa. The bronze statue of the Sovereign in general's uniform is placed on a 9-meter-high granite column ending in a capital adorned with eagles and stars. On the sides of the base, on the other hand, three different moments of the Risorgimento are depicted with three statues: Sorrowful Italy (1849), Rising Italy (1859), Italy in the Campidoglio (1870). In the square, the oldest still operating cinema in the city opened in 1913, originally called Kulmann now Italia.

Alexander D'Angennes Square
This charming little square stands next to the right side of the Cathedral, of which the mighty bulk of the Romanesque bell tower (12th century) stands flanked by the Baroque chapel of Blessed Amedeo IX, by Garove. The Archbishop's Palace, home to the museum and the Chapter Library, and the seventeenth-century Palazzo Berzetti di Murazzano frame it.

Rome Square
The vast square, commonly called Piazza della Stazione due to the railway station that has stood there since 1855, was arranged as it currently is in 1937 by Giuseppe Momo. Looking from the station, the mass of the Basilica of Sant' Andrea rises in the background, offering a suggestive view. On the side, in a depression that was once the moat of the city walls, stands Kennedy Park. On the sidelines of the same is the statue of the Mondina, a bronze work by Agenore Fabbri from 1983. The work, inaugurated by the president Sandro Pertini, symbolizes the suffering of the rice mondari. In the center of the square, on the other hand, is the fountain with the bronze group by Attilio Gartmann (Vercelli 1877-1928) depicting the Sower: the work created in 1909 does not have its original base.

Ernesto Zumaglini Square

The square was created from the demolition of the ancient Rione Furia, a medieval district dominated by the Gothic church of Carmine, demolished in 1921 even though it had already been declared a national monument. The commercial center of the city, home to various bank branches as well as the Rice Commodity Exchange, is an example of fascist monumental architecture, as the construction of the porticoed buildings that compose it began in 1930 and continued until 1951. The Casa dell' Farmer and the INA Palace and Tower, designed by the architect Armando Melis and the engineer Giovanni Bernocco, represent a significant example of cultural Piacentinism.


Archaeological sites

The Roman amphitheater
Dating back to the 1st-2nd century AD, and partly demolished due to urbanisation, it is located between viale Rimembranza and Corso de Rege. With an elliptical plan with a diameter greater than 120-130 metres, it partially came to light as early as 1565 during the expansion works of the Citadel commissioned by Emanuele Filiberto.

From the estimates of the still intact portions it would have been one of the largest amphitheatres in the world: its ellipse would exceed that of Verona by 50 meters.



The center of Vercelli (especially the main streets such as Corso Libertà, Corso Italia and Corso Prestinari) is the ideal place for shopping. Shops for clothing, shoes, electronics, telephones, accessories, perfumeries, jewelers and much more are present here, in the historic area of the city. And between a shirt and a pair of shoes, we can take refuge in numerous bars, snack areas and why not, restaurants. Piazza Cavour and Corso Libertà, respectively the "heart" and "main artery" of the city, host most of the shop windows. We can also find some shops in Via XX Settembre, and in the streets or squares adjacent to Piazza Cavour and Corso Libertà.

However, Vercelli does not only offer shops and bars, but also a fair amount of shopping centres.

The largest is the "City Commercial Park" where we find the "Carrefour" hypermarket, which houses 47 shops inside. Outside, a large car park separates the main building from the others, where we will find: - Electronics and computer shops (Euronics, Unieuro);

DIY (Self);
Clothing and shoes (Conbipel, Longoni Sport, Oviesse, Facit, Pittarello, Biella Scarpe, Scarpe&Scarpe, Valleverde);
Home accessories (PuntoCasa);
Free Time (Il Delfino, Toys Center);
Snack Points (Spizzico)
Headquarters of the "Mokaor", a company specialized in the production of fine coffee, which can also be purchased here on site.

In short, a really not bad commercial area.

On the other side of the city, a few minutes from the centre, and a few minutes from Caresanblot, we will find the "Bennet" shopping centre, which with its 14 shops, a large car park and a wide choice of products and a very attractive, it offers a quiet and pleasant place to spend.

As for shopping, we will find numerous discount stores and supermarkets, such as "Famila", "IN's", "Eurospin" and many others.

A few minutes from Vercelli, about twenty-five by car, we can visit the Vicolungo outlet, which offers customers 131 clothing, accessories and much more shops.


Where to eat

Average prices
1 Il Giardinetto, Via L. Sereno, 3, ☎ +39 0161 257230, Rooms located in an elegant 19th century villa.
2 Il Paiolo, Viale Garibaldi, ☎ +39 0161 250577. Traditional cuisine in a rustic building.
3 Christian and Manuel, Corso Magenta, 71, ☎ +39 0161 253585, Closed Sunday evening and Monday. Typical cuisine in a modern key.


Where stay

Modest prices
1 Modo Hotel, Piazza Medaglie d'Oro, 21, ☎ +39 0161 217300, A conference room is available.

Average prices
2 Matteotti, Corso G. Matteotti, 35 (In the historical centre), ☎ +39 0161 211840.


Physical geography


The city of Vercelli is located in the Po valley, at an altitude of 130 meters above sea level, north-east of the Po and on the banks of the Sesia. The entire area surrounding the city is flat and is full of watercourses and canals, including the Cavour canal, which allow abundant irrigation of the territory which is essential for the cultivation of rice. The city is located halfway between the cities of Milan and Turin. The city is located in an area with almost zero seismic risk; the surrounding plain is almost entirely cultivated with rice paddies.



The climate is semi-continental, of the Po valley type, with cold and often foggy winters and hot and very muggy summers. The rains fall mainly in spring and autumn for an average annual regime of 824.3 mm. The rainiest month is May, followed by November. Every year between November and March, an average of 25 cm of snow falls. Thunderstorms are frequent in the period from April to September. Vercelli has a high humidity even in the summer season due to the evaporation of water from the rice fields and is a poorly ventilated city.

Origins of the name
There are various theories on the origin of the toponym Vercelli. For a reliable reconstruction it would be necessary to trace the course of history by searching for the words of the populations that have marked the local language, of which we still find traces in the Vercelli dialect. From the Ligurians, the first indigenous population settled on the spot (Bronze Age, around 2000 BC) and later the Celts (5th century BC) to then reach the Libui (Gallic population) together with the Romans (222 BC and following) who would have assigned (in 49 BC) the Roman municipium to the Aniese tribe.

Thus, according to the theory of a Celtic-Ligurian ethnic structure, Vercelli would be the coining of the word Verk with the suffix elle. Another theory based on purely Celtic words would like Vercelli to be the Wehr-Celt junction. Third theory, this time on the Celto-Latin combination of ver-cellae, where cellae means place of residence, while the prefix ver is an intensive particle to indicate its greater importance; therefore with a comparison in the same geographical region we would also find bu-cellae (later Bugella, then Bigella or Biella) to indicate a center of minor importance.

There are also different meanings that one would like to indicate with the various expressions represented in the name of Vercelli: fortress, station or even market. According to some historians the term, widespread in Cisalpine Gaul, would indicate mining areas under exploitation, located at the confluence of water courses and therefore rich in metalliferous minerals.

It is also said that Vercelli was born Meropoli, from the name of its founder, so large and fortified that it would have had such extraordinary proportions as to also include Borgo Vercelli, extending on both sides of the Cesia (Sesia) on which 3 bridges were built. The walls surrounding the city would have stood 70 feet high and were interspersed with 300 towers for protection. Later and by order of King Beloisio the name of Meropoli changed to Vercelli.



Ancient age

The origins of Vercelli are unknown to us: some historians, however, believe it was founded by the Celts. Wehr-Celt or Rocca dei Celti is the denomination that leads us to ascribe the foundation of the ancient city to the Gauls. Located along an important economic road axis, the city of Vercelli, renamed Vercellae by the Romans, developed as an urban center from a pre-existing Celtic-Ligurian settlement following the Roman occupation dating back to the first decades of the 2nd century BC. The definitive victory of the Romans over the other peoples of the area was sanctioned in 101 BC, when the army led by Gaius Mario defeated the powerful Germanic tribe of the Cimbri in battle at the Campi Raudii.

In 49 BC. the inhabitants of Vercelli obtained full Roman citizenship and the centre, having become a municipium, was enriched with streets, monuments, public baths, an aqueduct, a theater and an amphitheater. Between the 1st and 2nd century AD the flowering of the urban center continued unabated. Subsequently however, in the 3rd and 4th centuries, the importance it acquired gradually declined and the fortunes linked to Vercelli declined in conjunction with those of the Roman Empire.

Saint Eusebius of Vercelli
The Christian religion arrived in the Constantinian age, precisely in 313, through the Emperor Constantius II. The first bishop, consecrated in 345 by Pope Julius I, and who later also became the patron saint of the city, was the well-known Sant'Eusebio, the first bishop in chronological order present in Piedmont. Sardinian by birth, strong personality, he soon became an esteemed pastor of the Vercelli Chapter, known throughout Piedmont (of which he later became patron), above all as a popularizer of the Marian cult of the Black Madonna, imported from the Holy Land, therefore founder of the Sanctuary of Oropa. The archdiocese of Vercelli therefore became one of the most important suffragans in nearby Milan.


Middle Ages

Of the late antiquity and early medieval period there is little and uncertain information. From the 6th to the 8th century the city remained under Lombard rule and subsequently passed under the guidance of the Franks. Vercelli then became a county and in fact was administered by its bishops. After years of uncertainty, Vercelli allied itself with the Milanese and participated in the events of the Lombard League up to the victorious Battle of Legnano.

In the 13th century the municipal regime progressively asserted itself which gave way to the most prosperous period in the entire history of the city which had obtained control over the territory between the Alps, the Po, the Sesia and the Dora Baltea, thanks also to the act of 24 April 1243 with which Cardinal Gregorio di Montelongo, papal legate, had ceded jurisdiction over all the territories belonging to the Diocese of Vercelli, vacant at that time, to the Municipality, keeping the minor jurisdiction to the latter; the transfer, of considerable size, was challenged by successive bishops, with mixed success. In 1219, at the behest of Cardinal Guala Bicheri, work began on the construction of the Abbey of Sant'Andrea and five years later the adjoining hospital was born. At the same time the municipality promoted the establishment of the first university of Piedmont and on 10 July 1243, Vercelli was the first city in the entire peninsula to abolish serfdom.

Following the long struggles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, headed respectively by the Avogadros and the Bicheri-Tizzonis, the municipality passed under foreign rule and in 1335 Vercelli lost its political autonomy forever.


Modern age

Under the rule of the Visconti there was a period of relative tranquility until in 1427 the city fell under the Duchy of Savoy and rapidly enriched itself. Vercelli was one of the major cultural centers of Renaissance Piedmont. At the end of the sixteenth century Vercelli still retained a large part of the early Christian, medieval and Renaissance artistic and historical heritage but the project of Carlo Emanuele I to make Vercelli a fortress city stopped the expansion of the city, blocking it for over a century in its mighty walls, as clearly appears from the paper published in the Theatrum Sabaudiae of 1682. In the 1600s wars, plagues and the dominion of the Spaniards did not give the city a breather. In 1704 the last siege of Vercelli took place with the destruction of the walls and the citadel by the army of the Duke of Vendôme during the war of the Spanish succession but the 1713 treaty of Utrecht marked the return to the Savoys. During the Napoleonic period Vercelli conquered the title of capital of the Department of Sesia and was united to the French State. In the second half of the eighteenth century squares and avenues began to take shape which still today give organic unity to the city, palaces of remarkable beauty were erected.


Contemporary age

After the restoration of the Savoy state, dating back to 1814, the Vercelli people took part in the movements of the liberal revolt of 1821 and in the struggles of the Risorgimento. In the first thirty years of the nineteenth century there were various constructions such as the new Theater, which later became the Civic Theater inaugurated in 1815, and the public slaughterhouse. Then it was the turn of the Independence Wars which brought serious damage to the city. After the unification of Italy, building activity stagnated, but it saw the birth of piazza Torino (now Pajetta), the reorganization of Porta Milano, the construction of the Jewish synagogue. In the 20th century, the partisan struggle and the disastrous situation after the Liberation were among the noteworthy facts.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the city experienced a remarkable expansion. With the rebirth of the fifties and the more recent vicissitudes, Vercelli returned to tranquility and agriculture, the main resource of the territory, was transformed thanks to the growing mechanization of the means of processing. Even today, for the province of the water lands, rice cultivation represents a real wealth that characterizes the rural landscape, typical for rice fields, and acts as a driving factor in the economy of the area. However, precisely because of mechanization, agriculture no longer offers great job opportunities. Furthermore, the city has been affected by the recent crisis in the textile sector, with the consequent closure of some important industrial sites. The lack of great job opportunities has pushed many Vercelli to commute to nearby Turin and Milan.