A day in Varallo, Italy
A day in Varallo. I travel to many parts of the world, but when I happen to travel in my beautiful Italy, I always remain breathless. There are so many picturesque villages, some really a few steps from my city, that I never had the opportunity to visit. Like Varallo Sesia, a town about an hour and a half drive from Turin and a little less from Milan. I had never been before and this was the opportunity to discover all that it has to offer: even if it is very small, there are really a lot of things to do and see. Read on to discover them all!
A day in Varallo: The Renaissance of Gaudenzio Ferrari and the Sacred Mount
I spent the whole day discovering Varallo, making a real journey back in time to the Italian Renaissance. In fact, the first stop was the Pinacoteca of Varallo where there is an exhibition dedicated to Gaudenzio Ferrari, the greatest exponent of the Renaissance in Piedmont. I was very passionate about art history in high school and I was more than happy to visit this exhibition, where there are works from the art gallery but also loans from museums and private collections both Italian and international: a very unique opportunity!
This exhibition is one of three parts of the greater exhibition dedicated to the Renaissance of Gaudenzio Ferrari, which is proposed in the three parts in the area, in Varallo, Vercelli and Novara. It can be visited until 1 July 2018 in Vercelli and Novara, while up to 16 September 2018 in Varallo!
Specifically in the halls of the Palazzo dei Musei there are all the works from the beginning of Gaudenzio Ferrari’s career, between the middle of 1490s to about 1520s. You can admire huge polyptychs, which have been reconstructed here, and the preparatory work of chapels, sculptures and frescoes of the Sacred Mount.
For any other information and booking of guided tours you can take a look at the website www.gaudenzioferrari.it
Leaving the exhibition, I headed to the nearby Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where there is a giant fresco on the whole wall and up to the dome, also realized by Gaudenzio Ferrari. The aspect that makes it truly unique is that, thanks to the presence of a bridge, you can climb to admire the painting from very close!
Then I headed to Corso Roma, the main street of Varallo, to see two of the many murals in the city. They are part of the Waral street-art project and have been created in honor of Gaudenzio Ferrari!
Along Corso Roma I discover that here there is a water dispenser, completely free, not only for still water but also for sparkling! Raise your hand if you always orders the sparkling one too!
When it’s time for lunch I head to Grem Le Club Restaurant, a really special restaurant of typical Piedmontese cuisine!
Elena, the owner, has created together with the chef a special menu: from the traditional starters to the tartare, from risotto with maccagno (a typical cheese) to homemade ravioli and, finally, a parfait of black cherry Ratafià (which I have discovered to be a liquor of the area). All absolutely delicious!
The Grem is a restaurant really is out of the ordinary. It develops vertically, there is a spiral staircase to go up to the three different floors, and each furnished in a completely different way. It is also housed in a truly beautiful yellow building that once was the City Court. Grem is an invented word that means Joy Relax Emotion Music: what a perfect match for this little place! I fell in love with her pottery!
After lunch, I continued the walk through Varallo to the long river Sesia, where there is a bridge with flowers and colorful houses in the background. The view here is so nice!
I passed through the bridge and discovered on the other side a beach where there are children who were diving! For me there was no time to do that: I had to go and get the funicular to go up to the Sacred Mount! Before reaching it, I lose myself in the Varallo Historical Contrade: a labyrinth of alleys, one more beautiful than the other!
The Varallo’s one is the steepest cableway in Europe and in just 90 seconds it takes you to the top of the Sacred Mount.
Waiting for me there was the guide, a boy named Stefano who told me the story of the Sacred Mount. In the fifteenth century it was difficult (and dangerous) to make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, so the need was felt to reproduce the sacred places in an accessible one. In Piedmont it was chosen the mountain above Varallo to create a New Jerusalem: they built a basilica and a route of 44 chapels, with life-size statues and frescoes depicting the episodes of the life of Christ. The place is very interesting not only from the religious point of view, but also from the point of view of the history of communication. If we think that back then there was none of the communication tools that we have today, we discover that the only way to get informed was just to go on pilgrimage to places like the Sacred Mount and discover with your own eyes what you only imagine from others speeches. Gaudenzio Ferrari made most of the works on the Sacred Mount, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
Thank you ATL Valsesia Vercelli for having me for a beautiful day in Varallo! I hope to come back very soon in July because I know that it will be held, like every year, the Alpàa: a completely free music festival with many Italian artists!
See you soon here on the blog with new posts!