The Valsesia (the Sesia Valley) is a unique, inviting area. Especially due to its proximity to Milan and Turin, Novara and Vercelli, it is an habitual and preferred destination for a tourism which is in constant growth with an ever increasing interest for its many distinctive environmental, cultural and social features. It comprises the catchment area of the Sesia river, originating at the foot of Monte Rosa, winding its way south to the riverbed with the town of Gattinara and the foothills of Monte Fenera to its east and westward to the confluence of the Sesia river and the Sessera torrent.
As the valley reaches out from an almost regular formation, it reveals a complex profile; irregular and jagged, and described as being among the most beautiful of the Alps. The valley can be divided into two large areas: Lower (Bassa) Valsesia including Val Strona and Valle di Cellio and all the municipalities from Borgosesia to Romagnano; and Upper (Alta) Valsesia which in turn is divided into Val Grande (from Varallo to Alagna), Val Piccola (or Val Sermenza, from Balmuccia to Rima) and Val Mastallone (from Varallo to Fobello) in addition to other minor valleys, among which include Val Egua (from Rimasco to Carcoforo) and the Landwasser (in Rimella).
There is a typical pre-alpine atmosphere that is jealously preserved in all of these Valsesian valleys with natural parks and protected areas that have been instituted to defend the ecosystem as well as the rich ethno-cultural elements. Integrity is maintained between the green landscape and towns and villages harmoniously set in a pleasant and mild climate – ideal conditions for a vacation destination and for backpacking, for which thousands of options are available throughout the territory.
The chief town of the Valsesia area is Varallo, a charming little town and cultural centre, among the most advanced in the province of Vercelli and home to the oldest Sacro Monte (Sacred Mountain) of the Alps, inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site which attracts great numbers of pilgrims from all over the world every year. Borgosesia, the largest town in Valsesia, is the shopping centre of all the valley. And Roccapietra, a village of Varallo, is an industrial area of notable activity.
“The art in Valsesia has always been, throughout the centuries, the entire Valley’s glory.
It can be said that in all localities each group of houses, community, church or little chapel conserves works of ingenuity, of skilled artistry and craftsmanship. These are the works of entire droves of Valsesians who paid tribute to and embellished their native territory and, with the widespread emigration of the past, had brought their skills beyond borders to share them with the rest of the world.
If the Valsesia is beautiful for the Valsesians, it certainly strikes a chord in the hearts of mountain enthusiasts who have discovered its qualities and admired its green fields and thick forests, snow-covered slopes, glistening glaciers, and marvellous little lakes that reflect the sky’s splendour in their clear waters. And it will be beautiful and cherished even for those who have yet to discover this land.
No matter how the Valsesia is described, the words are always an understatement; it needs to be covered bit by bit to admire its features, to listen to its voices, to hike along its paths and meet its people, customs, practices, traditions… with its virtues and irresistible flaws, one is bound to fall in love.