GTB 1st section: Oropa - Graglia
Start: Sanctuary of Oropa (1150 m)
Arrivo: Sanctuary of Graglia (810 m)
GtB legs: 1-3
Passing through: Chiavolino, Sordevolo
Length: 14,9 km
Ascents and descents: 590 m (climb), 930 m (descent)
Time required: 6 hours
Difficulty: E - (Average)The first section of the GtB is rather challenging due to its length and constant rises and descents, but the effort is well repaid by the visits to the two sanctuaries (the two main places of pilgrimage in the Province) and by the beauty of the views.
Leaving the magnificent Sanctuary of Oropa (right), keep to the left of the square and take what used to be the Biella-Oropa tramway and follow this until you reach the road. After about 1 kilometre, you follow the carriageable road on the right by the Chapel of San Fermo. You rise into the woods, pass by the ruins of an old hydrotherapy facility, then descend into the valleyof the Rio Oremo through meadows and thick woods. You come close to Chiavolino where you cross over the torrent and climb the other side, first on a forest road and then on a path, passing by meadows and cottages. When you start down the hill again, you leave the wood and arrive at a cart-track with lovely views that eventually comes out onto a paved road. This runs past the attractive Church of San Grato (below) from where you have a fine view over the plain. After passing the church, take the mule-track down towards Sordevolo. Pass through the village and cross over the Elvo Torrent on the ancient Ambrosetti Bridge. Climb up the other side through woods and meadows, and passing by farmhouses, then turn left by a mountain hut and walk for a while along the hillside. From time to time the trees part to give splendid views over the province of Biella and the Sanctuary of Graglia, where the section ends.