Skip menu

For the latest information on COVID-19 travel restrictions in Italy. Click here.

Art & Culture

Piedmont

Ivrea, the Industrial City with an emphasis on urban well-being

13 September 2022

4 minutes

Elegant and cosy, ever lively and pleasant to visit, Ivrea is a town in the metropolitan city of Turin characterised by an avant-garde history.

A result of Olivetti's presence, a company that rejuvenated both its urban and social layout, ensuring technological development and great prosperity, it is a place of great inspiration. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visiting Ivrea is an opportunity to get to know a piece of our country's history.

Interesting also from a landscape point of view, Ivrea is crossed by the river Dora Baltea, the so-called Ivrea Canal, which gives it a romantic setting and rises on the hill "La Serra", dominated by the four towers of the Arduino Castle.

Its rich historical centre nestled on the hillside and scene of the Battle of the Oranges during the famous Ivrea Carnival, is the heart of the city from where an exploration of art and neoclassical architecture can begin, arriving at the historic red-brick Olivetti factory.

1. History and interesting facts about Ivrea

New Olivetti Office Building - Ivrea, Piedmont

The Industrial City of Ivrea is an industrial, but also a socio-cultural project of the company of the same name founded in 1908 by Camillo Olivetti. Created during the 1930s, it grew until the late 1960s riding the wave of the Italian economic boom. Adriano Olivetti, considered a visionary genius, in particular was a promoter of the search for a viable alternative to industrial models and industrial architecture that took into account the welfare of citizens.

He ensured that the focus was no longer totally and exclusively on wealth and job creation as in the past, becoming an unprecedented example both in terms of the quality of the solutions proposed and the manner in which they were implemented.

2. Why Ivrea is a UNESCO site

Residential Unit (Talponia) - Ivrea, Piedmont

Thanks to such a special and inspiring history, "Ivrea industrial city of the 20th century" became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An award that rewards the "humanisation" of industrial and social areas and a courageous entrepreneurial model that has now become a historical, cultural, social and ethical heritage to be cherished.

Olivetti's architecture, which redesigned vast areas of the urban and industrial fabric, was a challenge to build the "City of Man" in all respects; a social project that revolutionised the relationship between entrepreneur and worker, factory and city by placing the human factor as the cornerstone of business development.  

3. What to see in Ivrea: 4 unmissable stops

Former Carpentry - Ivrea, Piedmont

What to see in Ivrea? There are 4 unmissable stops:

● We set off to discover Ivrea’s modern architecture, namely the MAAM, an open-air museum and an immersion in what makes this city so distinctive. It is an approximately 2-kilometre route that you can visit while appreciating the most representative buildings of the Olivetti era. Between buildings used for research, production, social services and civilian dwellings, the architectural heritage of the time winds its way through footpaths with seven information stations.

● The next stop is the Ivrea Castle, located in the upper part of the city. It is a huge building constructed in 1358, commissioned by Amadeus VI of Savoy for defensive purposes, then used from 1750 to 1970 as a prison.

● The Church of San Bernardino is truly extraordinary. Dating back to the 1400s, today it is linked to the figure of entrepreneur Camillo Olivetti, who bought the area of the convent with this church attached in 1907, in which stunning Renaissance frescoes can still be seen. Still owned by the Olivetti family, it is open to the public for various events.

● The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta boasts a thousand-year history and is the city's most important place of worship. It is located in the old part of the city, on a hill, a stone's throw from the Castle. 

4. What to do in Ivrea: advice for experiencing the city

Battle of the oranges during the Ivrea Carnival in Piedmont

As well as retracing its history among open-air museums and monuments, what to do in Ivrea to fully experience it and entertain the whole family?

We recommend attending the Historic Ivrea Carnival, an event that attracts tourists from all over the world for a popular festival of great symbolic value.

It is best known for the spectacular Battle of the Oranges: which takes place over three days in the city's main squares, with no holds barred.

5. What to eat in Ivrea: 3 traditional dishes to savour

Building ex Sertec - Ivrea, Piedmont

The Canavese cuisine, typically Piedmontese, focuses on rich appetisers, meat and sausages, soups and cheeses.

Among the specialities not to be missed is the Torta 900, a cake created at the end of the nineteenth century by Ottavio Bertinotti, a famous pastry chef from Ivrea, and made with two layers of chocolate sponge cake, filled with a chocolate mousse and covered with icing sugar.

Also unmissable is the Piedmontese bollito misto, prepared with various cuts of meat left to boil for a long time and served hot with boiled vegetables.

Bread and onion soup is also very popular, an explosion of flavours obtained by cooking breaded onion slices for a long time, browned with butter and oil and doused with hot broth. Stale bread is the finishing touch together with grated cheese.