NOVARA, CITY OF LAKES

This characteristic makes Novara one of the most beautiful and suggestive provinces in Italy. With its ancient origins, the city has a wide variety of artistic monuments to satisfy all tourists’ requirements, who will also be able to relax on the shores of one of its numerous, picturesque lakes.

History

The city is reputed to have ancient origins, with the people who populated the lake’s surrounding plains. Novara was first built by the Ligurians and, after its destruction by the Gauls, rebuilt by the Romans who made a colony out of it.  The subsequent history was fairly dismal up until the Longobards who established a city there; their rule had a big impact from a religious point of view: the people of Novara abandoned the Olympic Greek Roman culture and embraced Christianity. In 1311 it passed under Viscount rule and suffered damage from the war between the Viscounts and the Sforza.  During the medieval times it was particularly important because some of the most important illuminated manuscripts in Italy were produced there. It then became part of the Duchy of Milan until 1535, when the Spanish took it, only to pass under the Austrians in 1714 and then to the Savoy family in 1738.

The city and its monuments

The Broletto is the heart of the city. This complex is made up of four buildings built in different eras: the Palazzo dell’Arengo and the Palazzetto dei Paratici, date back from the thirteenth century, and the Palazzo del Podestà and the Palazzo della Referendaria, from the fourteenth century. Amongst the most important churches there is: the Cappella di San Siro, the Basilica di San Gaudenzio with Benedetti Alfieri’s eighteenth century bell tower, Alessandro Antonelli’s dome, and the Bapistry (the city’s oldest monument), the churches of San Martino and San Marco. Finally, the Duomo is another place to be visited. Although its current structure dates back from the second half of the 1800’s, its presbytery mosaic floor reminds us of its more ancient roots. 

The geographical area

It is possible to visit a series of characteristic places in the province of Novara: Oleggio, with its ethnographical Museum; Galliate, and  its suggestive Castello Sforzesco; Vespolate, with the castle that was once the residence of the Bishop of Novara; San Nazzaro Sesia, with its eleventh century Benedictine abbey.  However, Novara is best known for its proximity to Lake Maggiore, the most easterly of the large prealpine lakes and second in size to Garda. Its fortunate position, the historic wealth and the artistic testaments have all helped to give life to the tourist villages along the lake’s shores and the pleasant temperature in summer and winter mean that it is an ideal place for Mediterranean vegetation to grow and has beautiful gardens with tropical plants.  Another tourist destination to visit in the province of Novara is Lake D’Orta, to the west of Lake Maggiore. This lake is also characterised by its warm climate, shores and picturesque surroundings full of woods, cultivations and tourist activities.