The Nature Reserve of Baragge (Candelo)
Vast grasslands and moors spotted with sporadic trees and small woody valleys. The Baragge landscape immediately strikes for its simplicity and its balance between spaces and forms, for its limitless appearance, extending to the infinite: it looks like the African Savannah landscape.
The upper plains of Biella, Vercelli and Novava host these particular landscapes, which are usually formed by vast uplands with altitudes varying from 150 to 350m above sea level (according to the areas).
In the upper Po' Valley, there are the Vadue, in the Canavese and the so-called Groane , in Lombardy, with almost the same features.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE BARAGGE
In the geological eras, the Baragge were born by the water courses' erosion and dismantling actions on ancient plains, reproducing a similar phenomenon to the U.S. Grand Canyon formation.
Another interesting element, that you can see along the water courses' cuts, is the outcrop of the deltaic and sea deposits, which swallow many fossils. Those are the evidences in the entire region of the big sea gulf's presence of about 5.2 – 1.8 million years ago.
The typical vegetation of the Baragge countryside is made of grasslands and moors, above all of high herbs (the purple moor-grass), of heathers and some sporadic brakes.
The imposing but almost isolated forest trees overlook this landscape: oaks in the Baragge of Biella and Vercelli, some hornbeam, especially in the woodiest areas of the valley floor; or birches in the Baragge of Novara (Pian Rosa).
The above description represents a step of the degradation of the pre-existing oaks' woods, which are decreasing because of the frequent cuts. It thin arboreal moor has been kept thanks to fires, animals' pastures and mowing. So it is not a typically natural countryside: its structure as well as its composition and preservation are strictly linked to the forestry, agricultural and zootechnical activity (especially stock raising and straw harvest).
Besides the above mentioned vegetal species, which are the main ones of the Baragge vegetation, there are some less common and more localised species: the Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) is particularly interesting, because it typically grows in very cold climates, like those of the glacial era; the yellow lily (hemerocallis lilio-asphodelus = H. flava), of the pre-glacial era, can be found in a shadowy and wet environment; and finally the marsh gentiam (Gentiana pneumonante), which grows especially in peaty and wet meadows and in "molinia grasslands".
It is also very interesting to see the ecosystems of peat bogs and fen-meadows, with some rare water plants, such as the peat moss (Spagnum spp.), the sun-dew (Drosera intermedia) which has the ability of catching and eating insects when they alight on it, and finally the black beak-rush (Rhyncospora fusca).
Among the wild animals, birds take more advantage from these particular and rare plains, grasslands and woods. Many species are favoured by the near agricultural fields and above all by rice-fields, where they go to feed themselves using the "baraggia" as a shelter-area for their day and night rest.
Even though insects are more difficult to study, there are some species strictly linked to the Baraggia environment, and almost impossible to find somewhere else (such as the Agonium livens a A. ericeti, the Bembidium humerale and the Fissacatops Westi) and two butterflies (lepidopters) such as the nymph of fen-meadows (Coenonynpha oedippus), a dying species in Europe and the Maculinea alcon (strictly linked to the marsh gentian).
WAYS OF ACCESS AND SURROUNDINGS
The Baragge offer magnificent views from Summer to Autumn, ranging from the radiant and spread golden grass to the red spots typical of the leather or to the brownish brakes.
The flocks of sheep, which (decreasingly) stay in the Baraggia, are very suggestive and perfectly integrated in its landscape.
As for excursions, the reserve of Baragge has a close network of easy paths and dirt roads, with limited rises, most of which are practicable by horse (probably the most charming excursion in that countryside) or by mountain-byke; these splendid landscape can not disappoint you.
The six sections of the reserve of Baragge are surrounded by many state, provincial and communal roads enabling an easy and multiple accessibility.
The most popular tour of the Biellese Baraggia, that is to say the Baraggione of Candelo-Cossato offers the opportunity to visit the famous and splendid Ricetto of Candelo, a small fortified building complex, of the Late Middle Age.
In reality, as the reserve extends on a very large territory (about 30 km as the crow flies, including three provinces), its tour gives you the chance to know many interesting characteristics related to the Baragge; for example the historical centre of Masserano, the Castle (XI-XV century) and the Cluniac monastery in Castelletto Cervo (XIII century), the wonderful castles in Castellengo and Rovasenda, the St. Eusebio dei Pecurilli (in Romanesque style) in Roasio, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Rado (in Romanesque style) in Gattinara, the centre of Romagnano Sesia and so on.
Ente di Gestione delle Aree Protette del Ticino e del Lago Maggiore
località Villa Picchetta - 28062 Cameri (NO)
Sito internet: Ente di gestione delle aree protette del Ticino e Lago Maggiore
Location: Benna, Cossato, Candelo, Massazza, Mottalciata, Villanova Biellese (Baraggia and Plain)