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Novara, Province of Novara, Piedmont

Situated in the Po Plain between the Sesia and Ticino rivers along the border with Lombardy, the city has a beautiful historical center, with fine 19th century palaces and more ancient medieval buildings, but is also an important industrial, agricultural and commercial center, the capital of the second largest province in Piemonte.

Info

  • Altitude: 159 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 100,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 28100
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0321
  • Patron Saint: St. Gaudenzio, celebrated on 22 January
  • Frazioni & Localities: Agognate, Casalgiate, Cascina Montà, Cascina Roggia Mora, Gionzana, Isarno, Lumellogno, Olengo, Pagliate, Pernate, Torrion Quartara, Veveri, Vignale
  • GPS Coordinates: 45°27'N 8°37'E

History

Originally a Celtic village founded by the Ligurians, it became a Roman municipium in the 3rd century BC with the name of Novaria deriving from Nubilaria, meaning "city wrapped in fog". After the fall of the Roman empire it was under the rule of the Languebards, then developed into an independent comune and in 1167 joined the Lombard League in their war against emperor Frederick I.

From 1332 to 1447 the Visconti family ruled the city, then in 1448 Novara came under the Sforza family of Milan, and was in the following centuries occupied by the Spanish, French and Austrians, until in 1738 it passed finally under the House of Savoy. Here an important battle in the wars for the unity of Italy was fought on 23 March 1849 between the Piedmontese and Austrian armies.

What to see

  • The exagonal Baptistry, with late 11th century frescoes representing scenes from the Apocalypse, the most ancient building in Novara, going back to the 4th century AD.
  • The 16th-century church of San Gaudenzio, built on a project by Pellegrino Pellegrini with its remarkable dome, 121 m high, much in the style of Turin's more famous Mole Antonelliana, which was added in 1840 and is by now almost a symbol of the city; on top of it is the statue of Christ the Savior, a work by Milanese Pietro Zucchi. Inside the remains of San Gaudenzio, patron saint of the city, are preserved.
  • The Sforza castle built in the 14th century under the rule of Galeazzo Visconti, in 1472 underwent a restoration and was changed into a fortress, used in later centuries also as a prison. All around is the wide Renaissance-style Allea park.
  • The Cathedral, built on the site of a previous Romanesque church in the 1850's on a project by Alessandro Antonelli, who also authored the imposing, beautiful altar. Of the ancient Romanesque church it is still possible to see the mosaic floor of the 12th century, paintings such as the Nuptials of St. Catherine by Gaudenzio Ferrari, and fine Flemish tapestries along the central nave.
  • The Broletto, a complex of four medieval buildings: the palazzo del Comune, or Arengo, where the medieval administration met, going back to the 13th century; the Paratici palace, the palace of the Podestá and the Referendari palace. The complex today hosts the Civic Museum.
  • The Piramide Ossario della Bicocca, a sanctuary built in memory of the Piedmontese soldiers who died in the battle of 23 March 1849, during the First War of Italian Independence, against the Austrian forces.

Where to stay

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