At the discovery of Baraggia
Typology: Itineraries in the Rice
At the discovery of Baraggia: rice, castles, and nature
A unique and fascinating environment, the Baraggia, in addition to representing one of the last and most significant examples of prairies in the Po Valley, is a territory strongly linked to the cultivation of rice, which is being produced here since the seventeenth century. Through this itinerary, it is possible to admire the area that extends between Buronzo and Gattinara and discover the Vercelli’s Baraggia, where among plateaus, rice fields, and the remnants of the last "Savannah of Italy” surprising treasures are hidden.
A wonderful journey through ancient fortifications and small farming villages, in the heart of the land where the first and only Italian PDO rice was born.
1 Guided Reserve of the "Baragge”
Large prairies and heaths alternate with sporadic trees and forested valleys. The landscape of Baragge catches the eye immediately for its simplicity and balance of spaces and shapes and its endless horizon. It is an area that at times reminds people of the African Savannah. Established in 1992 to safeguard the last strips of intact Baraggia, the Guided Nature Reserve of the "Baragge” has the goal of protecting and preserving the unique baragge environment that in the past occupied a large portion of the Piedmont plain. The Reserve is composed of six distinct portions of land that extend over the provinces of Biella, Vercelli, and Novara. In the Vercelli area, the protected areas are located between Rovasenda, Roasio, Gattinara, and Lenta. Remarkably interesting from a landscape point of view, especially in autumn and summer when they offer spectacular views and an important habitat for many species of birds, the Baragge is an ideal destination for hiking and nature enthusiasts. The Reserve hosts a dense network of easy hiking trails and dirt roads with limited height differences, many of which can be covered on foot, riding a horse, or by mountain bike.
The capital of Baraggia and an important agricultural and artisanal center, Buronzo is a small and charming village that preserves a unique fortified complex: the consortium. Consisting of seven castles, the ancient village owes its development to the family of the lords of Buronzo, who in the fourteenth century were split into seven distinct branches giving rise to the consortium of nobles. Each noble branch, occupying and controlling a distinct portion of the Castle, favored the development of seven architectural agglomerates that gradually grew in different styles around the oldest core. Today, the old town appears almost like a scenic space, with many charming views, overlooked by buildings that preserve elements of different eras, such as medieval slits, eighteenth-century facades, and colorful mosaics. Visitors should not miss a stop by the Parish Church of S. Abbondio, going up the fascinating via Castello, from where it is possible to enjoy an enchanting view of the plain below and the Monte Rosa range.
Located in the center of Baraggia, Rovasenda is a small agricultural village that hosts a beautiful medieval castle dating back to 1170. The symbol of the village, the Castle of Rovasenda rises in the center of the town in a slightly raised position. The fortified complex, renovated several times over the centuries, has an enchanting tower of 48 meters high (built in 1459), one of the most fascinating and best-preserved in the Vercelli area. Touring Rovasenda, visitors will notice that, a few hundred meters away from the ancient Castle, another one was built remarkably similar to the pre-existing ones. Built at the beginning of the twentieth century by the famous Turin-based architect Carlo Nigra, the new Castle of Rovasenda was commissioned by Count Luigi di Rovasenda, who decided to build one for himself since he was unable to inherit the original Castle.
Not far from Rovasenda there is Lenta, a small agricultural village remarkably interesting from a historical, archaeological, and architectural point of view. The urban plan, halfway between a "ricetto” (fortified refuge) and a castle, defines the village as a "religious fortified refuge” of sorts. The Castle dates back to the fourteenth century, hosted the Benedictine nuns’ monastery, and served as its defense. Also worth a visit are the ruins of the ancient Fortified Refuge (Ricetto) of which some important sections, such as the houses and trails, are still intact. Near the fortified refuge stands the Parish of Sant’Olimpio, boasting the beautiful crypt of San Biagio. The Parish Church of Santo Stefano, founded in the fifth century and rich in frescoes, and the Church of Madonna dei Campi of the eleventh century, also with frescoes, are other interesting religious buildings to tour. Baraggia di Lenta is located not far from Lenta, and it is one of the Baraggia areas included in the Guided Nature Reserve of the Baragge.
To learn more: Baraggia Rice PDO
In the Baraggia land, the unique pedological and environmental characteristics and the centuries-old selection and cultivation experiments by rice growers allowed improving the quality of rice produced in lieu of less yield. Only in this manner, it was possible to obtain in 2007 the first and only PDO rice in Italy: the rice of the Biella and Vercelli Baraggia. As specified in the processing specifications, there are 28 municipalities that form the area included in the production of PDO rice, located in the provinces of Biella and Vercelli. The varieties of PDO rice are seven: Arborio, Baldo, Balilla, Carnaroli, S. Andrea, Loto, and Gladio. From a dietary point of view, Baraggia rice stands out for its greater resistance to cooking and for its marked ability to absorb flavors and condiments. Do not miss the opportunity to visit one of the many farms that produce this rice excellence.
How to reach Baraggia:
From Vercelli: take the SP 230 provincial road towards Biella. At the crossroads with Crocicchio turn right on the SP3 provincial road towards Buronzo.
From Milan and Turin: take the A4 motorway and exit at the Carisio exit. Take the SP3 provincial road toward Buronzo.
By bicycle, it is possible to follow trail No. 7 of the "Risaie Ciclabili”.