Claudia Ruschena
Guida turistica - cell. phone ++39/338/6358857 

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Excursions to Novara, to the Abbey San Nazzaro Sesia surrounded by rice-fields, to Ossola Valley with Santa Maria Maggiore and Re, wine and typical products tastings.


Guided tours to Novara, San Nazzaro Sesia and Ossola Valley: what to see

A cruise by private boat is the only possibility to see the hidden villas and secret gardens on Lake Maggiore. Starting the tour in the town of Novara, with its pleasant heart and the dome planned by the famous Italian architect Alessandro Antonelli, we reach the charming abbey San Nazzaro Sesia, surrounded by rice-fields, one of the most extraordinary landscapes in the Valley of the river Po. You should not miss a visit to the Oratory Santissima Trinità of Momo and to the castle of Ghemme, at the mouth of the valley of the river Sesia. An excursion to Macugnaga offers you a wonderful view of Mount Rosa. In the picturesque Vigezzo Valley you can visit Santa Maria Maggiore and its heart made of local stone, whose church was frescoed by local painters and the Basilica of Re. Vigezzo Valley is situated in Ossola Valley and it connects Domodossola with Switzerland. You can enjoy the opportunity to taste the typical products: the Paniscia, the salami della Duja, the red wines of wine town Ghemme.

Novara Photos


The town of Novara

Novara, dome by A. Antonelli

Of ancient origin, it lies in a strategically favorable location. Novara has a compact town center and you can easily visit it on foot. There are so many historical and artistic sights in this town of the Valley of the Po, that every step you take, you can see buildings built in different styles.
Agricultural and trade center, it has an elegant and refined look, it is a town of art and culture, situated not too far from Milan and from the lakes Maggiore and Orta.
Walking in the streets of the town you can visit the two main churches, enter the courtyard of the ancient town-hall and the cloister of the parsonage, admire the façades of mansions and houses, decorated with terracotta tiles or stucco or remain charmed by the elegance and grandeur of the highest brick building in the world, the famous dome planned by the not less famous Italian architect Alessandro Antonelli, who was born in the Province of Novara. It is a masterpiece of the Italian engineering.



Abbey S. Nazzaro Sesia

San Nazzaro Sesia, cloister This rare example of fortified abbey is very charming, surrounded by rice-fields and situated by a fort on River Sesia, building the border between the Province of Novara and the Province of Vercelli.
Rebuilt on several occasions given the strategic importance of the place, it preserves buildings of the 11th and of the 15th C., among which remnants of a building that has not been identified with certainty yet and a wonderful façade decorated with terracotta tiles, a real masterpiece.
Inside the church are frescoes of the 15th C., while in the cloister remain parts of a fresco dedicated to St. Benedict of Norcia’s life, who was considered the father of the western monasticism. It is one of the most complete cycles about his life, also if it was damaged when the abbey was converted into a country house.


A tour in the rice-fields

Rice-fields, Ibis The visit of Novara and of the abbey S. Nazzaro Sesia in Spring offers you the opportunity to admire one of the most extraordinary landscapes in the Valley of the river Po, when the rice-fields are flooded and build a "Checkered sea", a paradise for birds like little egrets, herons and ibises.
On a clear day you can see the chain of the Alps with Mount Rosa standing out among the other mountains and all is mirrored in the calm water of the "camere di risaia" (rice-fields).
A guided tour allows you to learn about the history of rice, to know the route it took to reach Italy, as well as curiosities about this plant, which is vital for one third of the world population. It would be interesting to visit a rice-mill, both to see the working stages and to buy the different varieties of rice.
Why not taking advantage of being among the rice-fields to taste a "risotto", the famous paniscia, the typical dish of Novara, or to taste the black rice, the rice meant for the emperor?


The Oratory of Momo

Oratory of Momo, the Last Supper It is situated along an ancient pilgrim road and it was commissioned by the Benedictine monks of Cluny in the 12th century. The inside was completely decorated by an important cycle of frescoes painted around 1520 by local painters. It is a sensational iconographic Bible narrating the events of Jesus’ life culminating with a dramatic Last Judgment. There are about eighty panels where the gestures and the poses of the represented personages had to help the inhabitants, most of which illiterate, to better understand the sacred history. Not to be missed!


Macugnaga and Mount Rosa

Mount Rosa A winding road takes you to the foot of the second highest mountain in the Alps, Mount Rosa, one of the most spectacular and beautiful mountains in the world.
Macugnaga is today a renowned summer and winter holiday resort. In the past it was colonized by a Walser folk, of German origin, coming from beyond the Alps. In spite of the difficulties they met to live above 1000 m. above sea level, the Walser managed it and the best way to understand this culture is to visit the Walser House Museum, a museum accommodated in a real Walser house with exhibits that show you the peculiarities of their life.
A walk in the village allows us to see the old church with the nearby secular lime-tree. At the foot of this tree the seniors met to take decisions.


Vigezzo Valley, the valley of the painters

Vigezzo Valley,Basilica of Re Leaving Lake Maggiore, you can climb either by bus or by train to Vigezzo Valley, that suddenly gives way to an idyllic upland surrounded by fir-trees and larches.
The main resort of the valley is Santa Maria Maggiore, where you can visit the church painted with frescoes by local painters and the chimney-sweepers’ Museum, to learn about the history of hundreds of children and boys who had to leave their valley every autumn to go to the towns and work as chimney-sweeper. Other inhabitants worked as painter decorating churches and chapels with frescoes in Vigezzo and in the surrounding valleys. Another Museum you can visit is the Fine Arts School.
Just before the border with Switzerland is the imposing basilica of Re in neo-Byzantine style, made of local grey stone. Inside multi-colored glass windows make charming light effects. There is also a collection of several votive offerings.
The valley is pleasant and cool, picturesque, that’s why it was nicknamed "Valley of the painters".


Lago Maggiore Express Tour

little train in Vigezzo Valley With this excursion you travel through different landscapes, from Lake Maggiore through Ossola and Vigezzo Valley. Leaving Italy you reach Switzerland. You come to Locarno, situated at the head of Lake Maggiore. From Locarno you go back to Italy and to Stresa by liner.
You can visit Santa Maria Maggiore, the chief-town of Vigezzo Valley, with the church, the chimney-sweeper Museum and the Fine Arts School. You can also visit Re, with the Basilica Madonna del SAngue.
Before leaving you can visit Domodossola, the chief-town of Ossola Valley, with the market square surrounded by arcades, the little lanes leading to the ancient districts with old houses, the ancient walls and the parish church.


The castle of Ghemme

During this excursions you travel in the hilly region, situated between the Valley of the River Po and the lakes.
Ghemme is situated at the mouth of Sesia Valley, the valley leading to the foot of Mount Rosa, in the wine district of the Province of Novara. It is a nice example of a castle built by the inhabitants of the town to defend themselves from the raids of the enemies.
Some ancient houses house today renowned wine shops where you can taste the local wines, for which it is used the species of wine "Nebbiolo", also used for the famous Piedmontese wines. This species of wine is difficult to grow but here it found its ideal conditions.


Tasting of typical products

tasting, Ghemme wine A guided tour and an excursion can be the opportunity to taste the local products. Even if they are not very famous (but everybody knows Gorgonzola cheese!), they are very tasty.
The landscape around Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta is very different, as the area stretches from the Valley of the River Po to Mount Rosa: therefore there are different typical products, all of them of quality.
The visit to Novara and the excursion to the Benedictine abbey San Nazzaro Sesia or to the Oratory of Momo, are the opportunity to taste the Paniscia, a rich "risotto" made of Carnaroli rice, the "king of rice", vegetables, salami and red wine. Delicious are the salami de la Duja, preserved in fat. Famous is Gorgonzola cheese. Sweet are the biscottini of Novara.
Travelling northwards you find the hills, situated between the plane and the lakes: it is the territory of the vineyards where they grow the species of wine Nebbiolo, the most important species of wine in Italy, difficult to grow, whose wine is difficult to control in the cave. It is used to produce the famous Piedmontese DOCG and DOC wines that are fit for a long aging. They are perfect coupled with the several salami and cheese produced in this area. In Ghemme, the wine town, you can walk in the lanes of the ancient castle.
Further north you find Lake Orta and Lake Maggiore. In Orta you can visit Orta San Giulio, the Sacro Monte and reach by boat the Island San Giulio for a guided tour to the basilica. From Stresa you leave by boat for the excursion to the Islands Borromeo, Island Bella, Fishermen Island and Island Madre.
Only in the commune of Stresa, you do not find them elsewhere in Italy, pastry cooks are allowed to bake the Margheritine, crumbly tea-cakes dedicated to the first queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy.
Typical of Orta is the liver mortadella. The fresh water fish have a delicate taste and some of them are really tasty, like the fish soused in vinegar, the lake whitefish, the specialty of Fishermen Island together with the perch and the delicious bleaks, which are served fried. Honey is produced on the slopes of Mottarone, the mountain that separate Lake Maggiore from Lake Orta, where there are also the mushrooms.
At the head of Lake Maggiore and of Lake Orta begin the valleys of Ossola, where the cooking changes completely: that is the region of gnocchi after the Ossola valley fashion, made of chestnut flour, of the polenta, the torrent trout, the violini, tasty hams made of goat or chamois meat, of cheese, among which toma and Bettelmatt, of the brown bread and the Prunent, the typical species of wine of Ossola Valley.



Why a guided tour?

For the success of your holiday, trust to the competence, the experience and the professionalism of a guide qualified for the practice of the profession, who has been working with passion and sense of humor for many years. Claudia Ruschena tourist guide Every guided tour will be organized with care, in order to grant your requests and to come up to your expectations. Thanks to the deep knowledge of the territory and of the right times to visit it, there will always be a special care in comparison with the usual package tour: a boat tour around an island before visiting it, a hidden and charming street in a village, a curiosity about an exotic plant, the choose of a route rather than another one, in order to get the most from each excursion. As they are not package tours, every excursion will be different and it will be tailor-made for you. You just can relax and enjoy your holiday!




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