Continuing your great quest along European Touring Route, in the foothills of the Alps you'll find Biella, resting in the Bo mountain range near Mt. Mucrone and Camino. In an area rich in springs and lakes fed by the glaciers, the heart of the Biellese Alps is irrigated by several mountain streams: the Elvo to the west of the town, the Oropa river and the Cervo to the east. Nearby natural tourist attractions include the Zegna Viewpoint, the Bielmonte Ski Resort, Burcina Natural Reserve, and the moors to the south of town. The Sanctuary of Oropa is a site of religious pilgrimages, and in 2003, the Sanctuary of Oropa Sacred Mountain of Oropa became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first inhabitants of the area were Ligurians and Celts, ascertained from archaeological finds - they lived near streams and lakes, at first as fishermen and hunters, and later, herders. As proof of Biella's antiquity, tools and necklaces dating from the Bronze Age and/or The Iron Age were found in the Burcina Reserve.
Ivrea and its surroundings have been inhabited since the Neolithic era and the Celts are believed to have had a village in Ivrea from around the 5th century BC. However, the town first officially appears in history as an outpost of the Roman Republic founded in 100 BC, probably built to guard one of the traditional invasion routes into northern Italy over the Alps. Its Latin name was Eporedia.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Ivrea became the seat of a duchy under the Lombards (6th-8th centuries). Under the Franks (9th century), Ivrea was a county capital. In the year 1001, after a period of disputes with bishop Warmund, ruler of the city, Arduin conquered the March of Ivrea. Later he became King of Italy and began a dynasty that lasted until the 11th century, when the city fell again under the bishops' sovereignty. On July 1, 2018, Ivrea, known as "Industrial City of the 20th Century" was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue south, Cuneo awaits!
Avigliana lies about 25 kilometres west of Turin in the Susa valley, on the main road from Turin to Frejus, France. It is best known for two lakes, Lago Grande and Lago Piccolo. Also nearby is the massive Sacra di San Michele.
In 574, the Lombard King Cleph built a castle here. According to some sources, the battle between the Franks of Pippin the Younger and the Lombards of Aistulf occurred in the nearby in 750. Later Avigliana depended from the Abbey of Novalesa, and subsequently it was a possession of the House of Savoy. Avigliana was later captured by Emperor Henry VI in 1187, but later again, it was acquired by Thomas I of Savoy. In 1536, in the course of the Italian Wars, it was again stormed by French troops. French attacks repeated in 1630 and 1690, the latter ending with the destruction of the castle. Some locations to visit are the ruins of the castle destroyed in the seventeenth century by the French, The Church of San Giovanni, with several works by Defendente Ferrari, The Romanesque church of San Pietro and The Natural Park of the Lakes of Avigliana.
Archaeological remains found in the center of Pinerolo in the early 1970s testify the human presence in the area in prehistoric times. Remains of the Roman necropolis of Dama Rossa, found during works for the Pinerolo-Turin highway in 2003, show that the area at the time was the seat of agricultural activities. The name Pinerolo appears only in the Middle Ages, in an imperial diplom dating from 981, by which Otto II confirmed its possession, within the March of Turin, to the Bishops of Turin.
The town of Pinerolo was one of the main crossroads in Italy, and was therefore one of the principal fortresses of the dukes of Savoy. Its military importance was the origin of the well-known military school that still exists today. The fortress of Fenestrelle is nearby. Later, Pinerolo was ruled by the abbot nullius of Pinerolo, who ran the abbey of Abbadia Alpina, even after the city had established itself as a municipality (1247) under the government of Thomas II of Savoy.
When French troops invaded Piedmont (1536), Pinerolo was conquered; it remained under French control until 1574. It fell again to France in 1631 with the treaty of Cherasco. France agreed to hand Pinerolo back to the house of Savoy under the Treaty of Turin in 1696, with the conditions that its stronghold's fortifications be demolished and that Savoy withdraw from the League of Augsburg against Louis XIV.
Cuneo, in Piemonte rests on a plateau in the wedge (cuneo) formed by the confluence of the Stura di Demonte and Gesso rivers, south of Turin. Founded in 1198 by fugitives from baronial feuds and Lombard refugees after the destruction of Milan by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, it later became the seat of a countship held by the house of Anjou, from 1259 until it was bought by the house of Savoy in 1382. Strongly fortified, Cuneo withstood seven sieges between the 16th and 18th centuries. It was ceded to France by the Armistice of Cherasco (1796) but was returned to Savoy in 1814.
The old and modern cities are linked by the great Soleri viaduct over the Stura di Demonte. Landmarks you should visit include the Gothic cathedral (10th century), the Church of San Francesco (1227), the 18th-century town hall, and the 18th-century Audiffredi Palazzo, with the civic museum.
The streets in the center of Cuneo around Piazza Galimberti are almost entirely lined with arcades, making ideal for a ramble in all weathers, looking into the old windows that have preserved the furnishings and charm of the past. The atmosphere of the city is also reflected in the Galimberti House-Museum, the apartment in the square that was the home of attorney Tancredi “Duccio” Galimberti, hero of the Resistance. After this, it's time to sample the rich Piedmontese cuisine.
On the outskirts of the city you can see the great villas of the past, Villa Oldofredi Tadini and Villa Tornaforte that welcome the visitor with the richness of their furnishings that testify centuries of history and care for the preservation of an invaluable artistic heritage. In the train station building you can find the little-known museum of railway relics, managed with care by the same staff as the railway, itself.