Biella – Shrine of Graglia

Starting from the historical center of Biella to go towards the mountains, to explore sanctuaries and unexpected views. Here we are today in this different guise that will take us from the period villas of Biella to the history of the old villages above the hills of Biella.

The historical center of Biella has two faces, a very modern part, built about ten years ago, where now there are the main commercial activities, and a more vintage part with elegant buildings that try to evoke that belle époque that many of us have loved and still appreciate. Behind Zumaglini Public Gardens you will find some beautiful examples.

From the center in Via Lamarmora you can easily find parking along the street, both paid and unpaid, from there our itinerary starts. Before leaving Biella, it is necessary to cover 4/5 km almost flat until reaching Occhieppo Inferiore. It is curious that the village is still a separate municipality from Occhieppo Superiore because of the Duce who divided them many years ago. From here the hills begin, the roads begin to take an important slope and above all you will begin to enter the green hills of Biella.

Some small villages such as Occhieppo Inferiore, Muzzano and Graglia are definitely worth a visit and some shots. Some villas along the road and the mountains that begin to come alive on the horizon.

One of the most characteristic villages, of which we have collected a curious story, is sure Sordevolo.

We will see it only along the road without stopping, but here for about 200 years and every 5 years is celebrated the “passion of Christ”, with the locals who set up a choral show. Generally it is celebrated between June and September and in an arena of almost 4000 square meters they manage to reproduce much of what Christ lived in those years.

Some cues: the palace of King Herod, the Sanhedrin, the Praetorium of Pontius Pilate, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Upper Room, Mount Calvary, located – in the scenic vision of the whole – in a very suggestive way on an artificial hill that has as its backdrop only the sky above Sordevolo and the valleys of Biella.

The representation has earned the hill town the nickname of City of the Passion, attracting spectators from all over.it’s a little while instead to reach the Sanctuary of Graglia, that rises on the top of a hard slope, with several steep bends.

The origin of the Graglia Sanctuary dates back to 1616, when they wanted to create a Sacred Mount of 100 votive chapels on the Hill of S. Carlo. But the works encountered many difficulties and finally the project was abandoned. In 1659 it was decided to transform the votive chapel dedicated to the Madonna of Loreto into what is now the Sanctuary. In the ’30s there was the creation of the present garden of the Madonna, characterized by the splendid “burnel” (fountain) in stone. The big church, with a Greek cross plan, is 42 meters long and 32 meters wide, has an octagonal dome 38 meters high decorated with perspective effects by Fabrizio Galliari.

From here you can leave as a base for the real mountain, such as the peak of Mombarone with the homonymous refuge at 2300 mt. But … the surprises are not finished today!

This sign particularly intrigued us, you don’t see that every day!

Here, not far from the Sanctuary, in the highest part of the village, the acoustic phenomenon of the endecasyllabic echo takes place. This phenomenon, already known to scholars in the 18th century, consists in the perfect vocal reproduction of the word shouted in the direction of the Sanctuary. It is called endecasyllable because, in ideal climatic conditions, it can reproduce a word of eleven syllables such as: precipitevolissime. It is a rare and fascinating echo, there is only one other case in the world where it is possible to have a similar acoustic return! … well, in a non-trivial place, in the Grand Canyon of Colorado … but in Italy we don’t miss anything!


Route type: asphalt

Water: at the drinking water source just before the sanctuary


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