Novara is the easternmost province of Piedmont, bordering Lombardy to its east and south.
Enclosed by the Ticino and Sesia Rivers, it is mainly flatland in the south, hills in the center, and mountains to the north, whence surges the Monte Mattarone.
The Province in part is home to Piedmont's grand lakes: most of Lake Orta and the evocative village of Orta San Giulio; and the southern part of Lake Maggiore, with its renowned tourist resorts of Arona and Castelletto-above-Ticino.
The province offers a wide variety of splendid landscapes, the most characteristic being the rice paddies: wide stretches of water bordered by long rows of poplar trees whose colors change with the season.
The territory boasts reserves like the River Park of Ticino Piemontese, inhabited by foxes, otters and herons, and the Riserva Naturale Orientata delle Baragge, a vast plain of meadows and moors.
Novara's rich history also resides in its villages: San Nazzaro Sesia, Galliate, Gozzano, Romagnano Sesia, Ghemme and others.
Following the trail of discovery of architectural splendors also leads into the country where oratories of great architectural value nestle, along with ancient castles and Medieval abbeys.
From hamlets to lakes, country houses and paddy fields, the variety and local traditions of Novara Province make it a land full of fascinating places to visit that, like magic, never cease to surprise.
The first stop on any journey through the Province is the provincial capital itself, Novara, surrounded by fortresses and dominated by the Antonelli dome of the Basilica di San Gaudenzio. The old town harmoniously combines Medieval remains, buildings dating back the 15th Century, and neoclassical structures.
The architectural splendors include the Duomo, the Baptistery and the monumental complex of Broletto, housing the Civic Museum and its wealth of local archaeological, historical and artistic remains.
TheProvince's centerpiece is the Sacro Monte di Orta, a monumental complex of great religious and artistic importance within a conservation area named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Among some especially fascinating sites are the village of Orta San Giulio with its Baroque buildings, Renaissance arcades and tranquil streets reflected in the lake, and the Isola di San Giulio that houses one of the most important Romanesque monuments of Piedmont.
Another perfect place for holidays is the western shore of Lake Maggiore and its many touristic resorts, for instance Arona, dominated by the famous “San Carlone,” an enormous statue dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo.
The route through the hills of Novara passes through villages with many historic remains: from the Sforza Castle of Galliate to the ancient mill of Bellinzago, and from the Benedictine Abbey of San Nazzaro Sesia to the charming Medieval settlement of Ghemme, whose original walls have been preserved.
The country oratories with their beautiful fresceso are well worth visiting, as are the Castles of Solaroli di Briona, Castello Visconti in Castelletto Ticino and the Castle of Cavagliano in Bellinzago Novarese.
The southern plain of Novara Province, known as the Bassa area, is especially suitable for cycling itineraries through the rice paddies and alongside canals and old country homes.
The City of Novara also features an extensive cycle trail that departs the historic center and continues through scenery dominated by nature. The hills, woods and lovely sceneries surrounding the historic villages can no less be explored by bike.
Inside Ticino Park, many recreational outdoor activities are available, including trekking, cycling, and horseback riding, or navigating the river via canoe, kayak or rubber dinghy.
Many other sports can be enjoyed in the charming natural territory of Novara: tennis, golf, water sports on the lakes and hiking on the slopes of Mount Mattarone known for being “the mountain with two lakes” and for its unique views.
Historic and folkloric events include the historical re-enactment of the Battle of Bicocca in Novara, the Corsa della Torta or cake race in Oleggio, the Folk Carnival of Novara and the Palio degli Asini (donkey race) accompanied by a costume procession in Marano Ticino.
The many fairs and shows devoted to the typical produce of the Province are all wonderful occasions for discovering the local traditions.
The flavors and fragrances of typical local dishes can be traced to peasant traditions.
Rice dominates the table in this land of rice paddies and is cooked in a number of ways. The most common recipe is paniscia, a rice soup with vegetables, beans and sausage.
Frogs are another favorite ingredient, fried, stuffed or put in a broth.
The countless cured meats include the salam d’la duja, preserved in pork fat and placed inside terracotta vases; and fideghin, a liver mortadella.
Another typical product is gorgonzola cheese, creamy and extremely pungent, originally from the Milan area.
Traditional sweets and desserts include the biscottini di Novara, Pane di San Gaudenzio, and the brutti ma buoni biscotti (ugly but tasty).
Finally, Boca, Sizzano, Fara, Colli Novaresi and Ghemme are some of the prestigious wines produced in the vineyards of Novara’s hills.