Biella / Italy
Alpine Town of the Year 2021
Facts & Figures
Year of the first documented mention
Area in km²
The city of Biella, set between the mountains and the greenery of the plain, has a strong link with its mountains. It is from the watercourses coming from the Biella Alps that the woolen economy known and appreciated all over the world has been able to develop over the centuries. The mountain territory, close to the city, has in Biella its reference point and represents for the people of Biella an opportunity to go for walks in nature, practice sports and outdoor activities and religious tourism. We are, in fact, in a land of sacred places, with the Sanctuary of Oropa that stands out among the mountains and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003. The Oropa basin, where a Special Nature Reserve has been established by the Piedmont Region since 2005, is at the centre of a project to relaunch tourism in the Biella mountains with a focus on the environment and sustainability. The territory of Biella is then crossed by two important and popular hiking routes: the Great Crossing of the Alps (GTA) and the Great Crossing of the Biella area.
Due to its position in relation to the Alpine range and the large urban agglomerations of Milan and Turin, Biella constitutes a spatial and socio-cultural interface between the Po Valley and the mountains. The many links with the mountains and the fervour of the sports and mountaineering associations have convinced the Biella administration to set up a mountain councillorship with the aim of consolidating the actions undertaken in that field and launching new ones.
The jury said…
Biella intends to address issues such as the valorisation of the Alpine natural landscape, cultural heritage, water protection and nature-based tourism. One of the central projects (CORO) is the touristic valorisation of the Oropo basin. Numerous initiatives are to be bundled in an 'Assessorato alla Montagna' created specifically for this purpose in 2019. The project on sustainable urban development, which is nearing completion at the time of application, should also be able to make up for lost ground in the areas of public transport and renewable energy.