Piemonte - Places to visit - Vercelli
This town stands 130 m. above sea level, in the Po Valley to the right of the Sesia River, at the heart of a vast rice-growing region.
Of Celtic origin, it was a Roman town (Vercellae) in `transpadania' Gaul, then with St. Eusebius (4th century), the seat of the first Piedmont bishopric. Fortified in the Middle Ages (the walls were demolished by the French in 1704), during the Risorgimento its vicissitudes were those of Piedmont and the Savoys.
There are artistically important buildings: the Romanesque-Gothic Basilica of Sant'Andrea, the churches of San Cristoforo (frescoes) and Santa Chiara, the Duomo (13th-18th century), the Casa Centori (15th century).
Vercelli's economy is largely based on agriculture, greatly developed last century with the opening of the Cavour canal. The leading Italian rice market (more than 2 million quintals/year), Vercelli also Ras engineering, textile, chemical and timber industries.
Events: The Viotti International Music Competition (October), Rice Festival (September), air tour of the province.
Famous People: Antonio Bazzi known as `Sodoma' (artist, 1477-1549), Bernardino Lanino (artist, 1511-1583), Giuseppe Giovenone (artist, 1524-1609), Eusebio Bava (General, 1790-1854).
Cultural Institutions: Museo Leone, Archivio Capitolare (archives), Biblioteca Agnesiana and Biblioteca Civica (libraries), Istituto di Belle Arti (art school).
In the Province: Biella (wool industry, medieval village, Istituto di Fotografia Alpina-alpine photographic institute), Borgosesia (wool industry), Santhi (Galleria d'Arte Moderna-modern art gallery), Varallo Sesia (Sacro Monte), Alagna Valsesia (Walser Museum).