WWF Oasis - Oropa's botanical gardens
If you happen to see peony, the martagon lily and arnica montana in the company of the China wrinkle rose, the Himalayan primrose, the calluna, the incised campanula or the edelweiss, you are probably in the Oropa Botanical Garden.
It is not the Tower of Babel of plants, but rather a small "fiefdom" of the Plant Kingdom where you can find examples of the main classifications used by botanists to describe the approximately 250,000 species found on our planet.
In the Oropa Botanical Garden at 1200 m altitude, only artifice, study and constant care make possible the difficult coexistence of plant species, subspecies and varieties, within an area of 10,700 square metres. Rich in plants, but also in itineraries, ideas and activities for adults and children, the Oropa Garden is visited, between May and September, by an average of over 7,000 people. The Garden is accessible on foot: it is compulsory to leave traffic, noise and anxiety at the car parks of the Sanctuary, near the station of the cable car to Mucrone.
Given its evocative and illustrative nature, the structure contributes to bringing the public closer to the world of plants and seeks to arouse respect for nature. It carries out conservation activities for the most vulnerable plants and conducts preservation projects for endangered species, collaborating with the Plant Germplasm Bank of the Piedmont Region.
The Oropa Botanical Garden has been managed by WWF Biellese on behalf of the Municipality of Biella since 1998; services are provided by Coop. Clorofilla. It is part of the WWF Oasis System and is included in the official list of high botanical interest areas (R.L. no. 22/1983) of the Piedmont Region.
About 500 species and plant varieties are grown here. The subdivision of spontaneous species by environments makes it easy to observe, in a protected area, most of the spontaneous flora of the Oropa Reserve. The collections of alpine ornamental plants are instead cultivated in delimited rockeries inside the Garden: thus, the visitor will be able to appreciate the diversity of the plant world on the world' s different mountains.
Along the paths of the Garden, there is not only the possibility to get closer to plants, flowers and vegetation of the Oropa Valley, but also to appreciate its other peculiarities. The self-guided routes can be followed using the documentation distributed at the ticket office: Beechwood (based on the characteristics of the most common tree in the Biella area), Lichens (dedicated to the extraordinary symbiosis between algae and fungi), Garden Rocks (an opportunity to learn more about the geomorphology of the valley, with an exhibition of the main Oropa rocks), Plants in Evolution (a permanent and interactive exhibition describing the long evolutionary path of the plant world on our planet) or Fun Garden, for families.
How to get there
Santhià railway station on the Turin-Milan line. From here take the local train to Biella, San Paolo station. From the square in front of the station ATAP buses (line 360) leave for the Sanctuary.
INFO F.S. 892021 www.trenitalia.it
Bus: A.T.A.P. Biella 800912716 www.atapspa.it
Oropa is located at an altitude of 1200 metres, about 12 kilometres from Biella.
From the A4 (Turin-Milan) motorway exit at Santhià, follow the signs for Biella and the Sanctuary of Oropa (about 35 kilometres).
The Botanical Garden is located upstream from the architectural complex of the Marian Sanctuary, behind the Upper Basilica, near the Oropa-Mucrone cable car.
The Oropa Botanical Garden is open from 1st May to 30th September.
May, June, September: from Tuesday to Friday: 1.00 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.
Saturdays and holidays all day long 10.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.
July and August: every day all day long 10.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.
For schools, by prior arrangement, the Garden can also be opened outside these hours/months and educational activities can also be held at individual schools.
Location: Biella, Oropa (Biella and Oropa Valley)