Rice paddies of northern Piedmont
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The Vercelli landscape offers numerous biking paths, many of which are tranquil, easy, and offer a pleasant trip for all levels.
Visualizza Tra le risaie in una mappa di dimensioni maggiori
In fact, the main characteristic of this itinerary is its distinct lack of uphills and downhills, instead coasting through miles of flat plains and passing by the quilted fields of rice paddies.
In the surrounding areas of Gattinara by the Sesia River, head south until the town of Lenta, a renowned agricultural center that is also interesting from the historical and archaeological points of view with its 14th century Castle, parish church, and the Church of St. Stefano. From Lenta heading west is a nice piece of road that lasts for 6 km (3.7 mi) going towards Rovasenda. Here, you're in the territory of the Natural Reserve of the Baragge, with arid and clayey terrain typical for this zone and historically ideal for rice; in this area of the Baraggia, rice cultivation began in the early 1500s. The best period for enjoying the rice paddies by bike is in the springtime from April to May, when the flooded fields become mirrors of still water during the period of planting. The landscape is, however, beautiful in all seasons.
Our advice is to turn down some of the trails between fields that lead to farmhouses, observing the farmers and inhabitants whose lives follow the rhythm of nature. During the ride, you may hear the croaking of frogs, see long-legged herons, or meet up with a well-used and dirty tractor. Visiting a farmhouse is definitely worth your time.
The Riseria (rice mill) Corbetta of Farmhouse Marchiazza, for example, is a good place to discover the secrets of rice cultivation. Rosanna Arvati and her husband manage this small, family-owned operation, and they will happily show you their work, patiently explaining all the phases of artisan production, from soil analysis and grain bleaching to rice sales.
Continuing the ride until the medieval hamlet Rovasenda, you’ll come upon a majestic castle of the 12th century. In ancient times much larger, its original structure has been remade numerous times. Today, it assumes the look of an intriguing, complex castle in red brick (a building material that holds an important role in many historical and religious buildings in the zone), capped with a square-base tower 48 m (157 ft) high.
For those curious riders who like to seek out little-known architectural wonders, upon leaving the center of Rovasenda, a path leading through the trees will take you to an impressive manor that the architect Nigra may have constructed at the end of the 1800s. Notwithstanding its state of disrepair and neglect, the inner courtyard and important frescoes are yet beautiful.
At the borders of the Baragge area on the other bank of the Sesia River is the Lame Park of Sesia, a natural oasis ideal for birdwatching.