ENVIRONMENT AND LANDSCAPE
The Province of Biella covers about 910 square kilometres. It is bordered by the Aosta Valley, the Province of Vercelli and the Province of Turin and includes 82 Municipalities, 6 Mountain Community Areas and 2 Hill Community Areas.
At first sight, the provincial territory appears to be sharply divided by the contrast between mountain and plain, due to the extreme degree of variability in the orography and the marked differences in altitude. On closer scrutiny, however, at least three great, environmental contexts emerge- the valleys, the hills and the plain. Thanks to the wealth and variety of its natural environment and scenery, and to its highly suggestive locations, the Biella area has often been described as a "landscape show-case".
The Upper ‘Cervo' Valley
This is a narrow and dramatic valley which takes its name from the torrent Cervo that runs all the way down to the town of Biella. The highest peaks of the Province are found at the top of this valley along with the characteristic and interesting villages such as Piedicavallo, Rosazza and Campiglia Cervo, which are of interest from a historical and cultural point of view.
The Lower ‘Cervo' Valley
This part of the valley is located between the ridges of Oropa and Strona and is much wider and open than the upper Cervo Valley. It is here that the majority of its inhabitants live. The urban centre is surrounded by woods and cultivated areas and is located in the lowest part of the valley.
The ‘Oropa' Valley
The one main road follows the valley and takes you up to the famous Sanctuary of the black Madonna. There are only a few little hamlets scattered along this panoramic valley. The peaks here rise up to 2,000 m.a.s.l. and there are numerous pre alpine hills which form a semicircular shape around the Sanctuary.
The Lower 'Sessera' Valley
This is the connection between the Valsesia and Strona valleys . The torrent and the road follow the valley and on the lower part some residential villages can be found.
The Upper ‘Sessera' Valley
This Valley is located between the Provinces of Biella and the Valsesia. Its unique landscape is mainly of woods with no villages or inhabited areas, the difficulties of moving around makes this area quite isolated. A few mountains pasture can be found in the higher parts of the valley.
The Upper 'Elvo' Valley
This is a very open valley with large pastures and mountain refuges at high altitudes, a typical Alpine area. It goes from high mountain springs, which flow into the Elvo torrent, down to the famous ‘Tracciolino' road, which represents an imaginary line between the natural and the inhabited areas.
The Lower ‘Elvo' Valley
This is the area between the left bank of the Elvo torrent and the Bolume torrent. It has beautiful open hill sides and some very pretty small villages.
The' Strona' Valley
This is a valley where most of the textile production is located. There are also some residential areas scattered along the valley.
The ‘Rive Rosse'
This area takes its name from the red colour of its soil which comes from the volcanic rocks found here. Of interest is the Bercovei cave in the village of Sostegno, where a natural clay without any impurity can be found.
The Eastern part of Biella
This hilly area is mainly covered in woods .Along the road that connects Crevacuore and Villa del Bosco there are some vineyards which produce a small quantity of excellent local wines, such us the famous "Bramaterra" and "Lessona".
The Central Hillside
This is a beautifully green hillside that starts from the Mt. Rovella (900 m.a.s.l.) and descends in a fan-shape with ridges along which many villages are located.
This is a beautiful and impressive moraine that starts from the slopes of Mombarone ( at Andrate) and heads south-east for 25 Km until it reaches lake Viverone. This moraine is also very wide with a series of internal ridges around which various villages have grown.
This is a lovely area with lots of woods and vineyards. It is located between the Strona and Ostola torrents. There are many old villages connected by original streets and paths.
Masserano and Brusnengo
On the eastern border of the province there is an area of hills and vineyards. The two old villages of Masserano and Brusnengo have kept their original architectural style.
Of glacial origin, fed mainly by groundwater, Lake Viverone is located at the south western end of the Province of Biella, bordering to the province of Turin. Located at 230 m asl, it was formed during the Quaternary and occupies an area of 5.78 sq m, reaching a maximum depth of 50 m. The perimeter of the lake measures just over 13 km and is partly occupied by small villages such as Viverone, a tourist destination for holidays and excursions, and partly savage and covered woods and reeds, that host a large variety of birds, making it an ideal destination for birdwatching.
The flat lower lying areas of the province are mainly dedicated to the activity of agriculture.
The urban centers are located along the main communication routes.
The Rice fields
The Biella plains are one of the main areas for rice production in Europe. In the spring all the fields are flooded with water making a unique and spectacular scenery.
This is a flat uninhabited area, similar to a plateau as it is higher than the surrounding areas. It is very arid due to its particularly porous soil which leads to the formation of underground streams.