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about Biella

Biella (Latin: Bugella) is a town and comune in the northern Italian region of Piemonte, the capital of the province of the same name, 45°34N 8°04E, 420 m (1378 ft) above sea-level, with 45,500 inhabitants as of the 2001 census.

It lies in the foothills of the Alps, in the Bo mountain range near Mt. Mucrone and Camino, an area rich in springs and lakes, the heart of the Biellese Alps irrigated by several mountain torrents: the Elvo river to the west of the town, the Oropa river and the Cervo river to the east. Nearby natural beauties, and notable tourist attractions, include the outlook at Zegna with the ski resort of Bielmonte; Burcina Natural Reserve; and the moors to the south of town. Religious pilgrims make their way to the Sanctuary of Oropa.

Biella is an important wool processing and textile center. There is a small airport in the nearby comune of Verrone.

Biella history


That the first inhabitants of the area were Ligurians and Celts has been ascertained from archaeological finds: they lived near streams and lakes, at first fishermen and hunters, and later, herders.

A Ligurian people, the Victimuli, fanned out in the plain of Biella (the Bessa) and exploited gold veins near the Elvo, an activity which continued thru the early Middle Ages, and even today panning for gold continues as a local hobby.

In the late 1950s Bronze Age — or, according to some, Iron Age — tools and necklaces, attesting to Biella's antiquity, were found in the Burcina Reserve.

Middle Ages

The city's name appears for the first time as Bugella in a document of 826 recording to the donation of Bugella to Count Busone by Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne), Holy Roman Emperor; a further document of 882 records some land transactions of Charles the Fat in favor of the church of Vercelli.

In the 10th century the town was inhabited by Alemanni, Lombards and Franks, who built the first walls as a defense against barbarian invasions. Extant remains from this period include the Lombard Romanesque Baptistry and the adjacent church of S. Stefano, around which the town grew: it is today's cathedral, although the original 5th century building was demolished in 1872.

On April 12, 1160, Uguccione, bishop of Vercelli, granted important trade privileges to anyone residing on Piazzo hill, as an incentive to the estt of a place of refuge against the warfare between the Guelphs and Ghibellines of Vercelli: this was the birth of the Borgo del Piazzo, site of the handsome public square, the Piazza Cisterna, and a Palace fronting on it, the doors of which have stone capitals and terracotta ornaments.

Bishop Uguccione's castle was destroyed in a revolt in 1377 that led to the subjection of Biella, along with its dependent comuni, to the yoke of the house of Savoy.

Modern Times

In the 14th and 15th centuries the Visconti family competed with Savoy for the possession of the Biella region. The 17th century saw a similar competition between French and Spanish forces, and Biella was actually occupied in 1704; in 1706 Pietro Micca, a Biellese soldier, saved nearby Turin from a siege that would have meant the invasion of Biella by the French as well — but paid for it with his own life.

In 1798 Biella was once again occupied by the French, and after the battle of Marengo, Biella was formally annexed by France. The Congress of Vienna returned it to Savoy.

In 1859 Biella was besieged by the Austrians but Garibaldi forced an end to the siege, and the town became part of the province of Novara, losing its status as regional capital that it had received in the 17th century from Charles Emanuel of Savoy; it was transferred to the province of Vercelli in 1927.

In World War II Biella was the scene of armed resistance.

Wool in the life of Biella

In 1245 the statutes of Biella were already referring to the woolworkers' and weavers' guilds: hardly surprising in view of the region's high mountain pastures and copious water supply needed for washing fleece and powering mills. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as elsewhere in Italy, silk was an important industry, and a silk manufacture was built in town in 1695: in 1835, however, the town's textile history came round full circle when the same building was put to use as a wool factory with the introduction of mechanical looms, putting Biella at the forefront of modern improvements in the industry.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Biella".

This city is also known as: Biella.

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