Novara is the second biggest city in the region of Piedmont in northern Italy, after Turin. It is also the capital of the province of Novara. the most important tourist attractions are the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Basilica of San Gaudenzio. The city has slightly over 100,000 inhabitants.
Novara travel guide
Tourist information: Piazza Martiri della Libertà, 3 – 28100 Novara. Phone: +39 0321 394059. Opening times: 09:30 till 13:00 and 13:30 till 17:30.
Town hall: Via Fratelli Rosselli, 1, 28100 Novara. Phone: +39 0321 3701.
Railway station: Novara has one big railway station, which is used by Trenitalia, and two smaller ones. Vignale is used for regional travel, while Novara Nord provides a connection to Saranno.
The most famous church is the Basilica of San Gaudenzio, constructed towards the end of the 16th century.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was reconstructed between 1855 and 1869 after a design by Antonelli. The octagonal Baptistery dates back to the early Christian period.
The Santa Maria alla Bicocca Church is known for its Baroque altars.
The Madonna del Latte Church contains 15th century frescoes.
Other interesting churches are the Santa Maria della Grazie Church, the San Nazzaro alla Costa Church (both late 15th century), the San Marco Church and the San Pietro al Rosario Church (both early 17th century).
The castle was constructed in 1357.
The pyramid-shaped Bicocca Ossuary was designed by Luigi Broggi and constructed in 1879.
The Gothic Casa della Porta dates back to the 15th century.
The 19th century Collegio Gallarini, with its terracotta decorations, is recognizable by its colored roof tiles.
The Palazzo dell’Arengo has known several renovations and reconstructions and evinces architectural elements from the 13th to the 18th century.
There are many interesting historical buildings, the most noteworthy ones being the Palazzo del Mercato, the Palazzo Cabrino, the Palazzo Bellini, the Palazzo Natta, the Casa Quaroni and the Casa Bossi.
A brief history of Novara
Novara, which in ancient times was known ad Novaria, is of Celtic origin. In the 4rd century BC, the settlement was conquered by the Romans, and it became a flourishing commercial center.
Between 350 and 400 the first bishop of Novara, Gaudenzio, had the first basilica, the baptistery and the Domus Episcopalis constructed.
In 569, the Lombards took over. They were succeeded by the Franks, who reigned over the area from 774 till 1116. In that year, Novara became a free commune, prior to joining the Lombard League.
In the feudal era, like much of the surrounding territory, Novara was dominated by the Visconti and Sforza families. Later, first the Spanish and then the Austrians took over.
The modern era
In 1738, Novara became part of the Kingdom of Savoy. After a brief period, when Napoleon ruled over most of Italy, the city started participating in the Risorgimento, which was to lead to the formation of the Kingdom of Italy.
The most famous event in the history is the Battle of Bicocca in 1849. Bicocca is a suburb of Novara. On March 23rd of that year, the Piedmontese army clashed with the Austrians. It was one of the last skirmishes in the Italian fight for independence. Although the Battaglia della Bicocca was a resounding victory for the Austrian army, who outnumbered the Italian troops by far, Italy would soon achieve its goal.
How to get to Novara by car
The E64 leads to Milan, the E4 to Turin, and the SS211 to Mortara.