Highlights and tour details
The cycling route departs from Romagnano Sesia, Historical and Ethnographic Museum of Villa Caccia and, in a loop, crosses Cavallirio, passing through the vineyards around the Sanctuary of Boca, Maggiora, Baraggia di Boca, to return to Romagnano.
The common theme linking the entire route is the architect Alessandro Antonelli: born in Ghemme, he left some of his most successful and famous civil and religious works in 9 municipalities in the province of Novara, all of which can now be visited. Not only did he design grand architecture, but he also made a great contribution to agriculture by designing a wine-growing system known as "maggiorina". He studied the camber of the support poles, with the oblique positioning of four or more poles for each vine to counteract the tensile force of the grape load. This system was highly effective and resulted in an abundant production, well protected from frequent hailstorms.
Through this itinerary you can discover some of the most representative ones, such as the Sanctuary of the Santissimo Crocifisso in Boca, Villa Caccia in Romagnano Sesia and the village of Maggiora, where he left his mark in more than one building.
Points of interest
The departure point of the itinerary is the majestic Villa Caccia in Romagnano Sesia: situated on a hillock called Monte Cucco, it was the holiday residence of the Counts Caccia di Romentino. Built between 1842 and 1848 to a design by architect Alessandro Antonelli, it is a striking building in neoclassical style. Inside the building is the Ethnographic Museum of Lower Valsesia, which has a collection of machines, tools and ancient implements that bear witness to man's work in the hilly lands, thus linked to viticulture. There are reconstructions of family or social environments (the tavern, the school), a section dedicated to the cinema (among the founders is Adriana Prolo, founder of the Cinema Museum in Turin) and one dedicated to Good Friday in Romagnano, a centuries-old tradition of popular theatre dating back to 1729.
Among the vineyards of Cavallirio are the vineyard cottages, small square or rectangular buildings with one or two floors built from 1800 onwards. Initially used as a shelter for tools, they later became a second home for farmers; here there was a fireplace, a table and benches, while a staircase led up to the loft, which served as a dormitory. Among the most significant are the Cascinotto della Mezzaluna, the Cascinotto della Bottiglia and the Casin Ross.
The old Traversagna road is already included in the Teresian land register of 1722. The route is surrounded by vineyards and a birch wood; to the left it skirts vineyards from where you can admire a splendid panorama; it then descends for a short distance until it rejoins the current Traversagna road, built at the beginning of the last century, which leads from Boca to the hamlet of Torchio di Grignasco and joins the provincial road north of the cemetery of Grignasco.
The imposing Santuario del Santissimo Crocifisso (Sanctuary of the Holy Crucifix) stands in Boca. Its foundation dates back to 1600, on the site of an ancient votive chapel called Anime Purganti (Purgatory Souls), built after a bloody event and featuring a fresco depicting a crucifix. The growing importance of the Sanctuary and the massive influx of pilgrims made it necessary to build a larger and more spacious church. The architect Antonelli was called in and designed a neoclassical temple, which proceeded very slowly, so much so that the architect never saw the end of it; the building site was completed by his son Costanzo. The Sanctuary then collapsed, heavily damaging its left side, and was later damaged by an air raid. Subsequent restoration work and modifications have given the building its current appearance.
You reach Maggiora, where it is worth visiting the parish church of Santo Spirito, a Baroque building containing the "scurolo" of Sant'Agapito, the sepulchre designed by Alessandro Antonelli, who was also responsible for the town planning and the design of the cemetery; Casa Antonelli, a four-floor building with a beautiful garden planted with centuries-old trees, stands in the centre. The building has undergone numerous renovations over the years.
The route continues from Maggiora towards Baraggia, a dense heathland characterised by aquiline ferns and heather, alternating with vast expanses of grassland, similar to the African savannah.
You then return to Romagnano Sesia via the Stoccada region.
Departure, arrival and municipalities crossed
Museo Storico Etnografico della Bassa Valsesia
28078 Romagnano Sesia (NO)
Novarasee on map