Gozzano, the town where San Giuliano lies


Gozzano, on the traces of Saint Giuliano

Gozzano is a town by the southern coast of Lake Orta. Gozzano is rich in historical sites, which dates back to Romanesque times. 

Gozzano is a municipality that counts about 5,500 inhabitants. It sits close to the southernmost coast of Lake Orta. The toponym is curious: Gozzano originates from the Latin “Gaudianum”, which one can literally translate as “place of pleasure.” From the same root,  we find the surnames “Godi” and “Godio,” which are very popular in the whole area.  

Gozzano sits on some plain, which the hills of Valsesia and Stream Agogna surround. These landmarks also delimit the borders of the municipality.

Gozzano: the town’s history

We got to know who Saint Giulio was, and why Orta San Giulio – probably the most important center on Lake Orta- took his name. 

Gozzano’s history intertwines with that of Saint Giulio, as well. More precisely, the history of Gozzano relates to that of Saint Giulio’s brothers, Giuliano, who built the 90th house for Marian devotion together with his brother Giulio. This house was the Church of San Lorenzo, where the inhabitants of Gozzano buried Giuliano before the translation to the Basilica of San Giuliano

During the Middle Ages, Gozzano was divided into two city centers: the Villa (north-west) and the Vicus (south-east). The market square, which later became Piazza San Giuliano, divided these two districts. Between the Tenth and Eleventh century, the hill where Basilica di San Giuliano sits became a fort and then a castle. We find it mentioned for the first time in 1015.

What to see in Gozzano

As we understood, Gozzano is rich in important historical and spiritual sites. First, we find the Church of San Lorenzo, which is south to the urban settlement. San Giulio and San Giuliano founded the Church, according to tradition. 

Recent archeological findings confirmed the hagiographical narrative: indeed, archeologists discovered the foundation of an early Christian Church. They think the Church was built between the end of the fifth century and the beginning of the sixth century. The church sits on what was a very revered burial site, which archeologist identified with that of Saint Giuliano. 

From the eight century, the Church of San Lorenzo started a long period of decline, which reached its climax in the transferring of the relics of Saint Giuliano from there to a newly-founded Church, which was inside the city center. 

In 1141, Novara’s bishop entrusted this latter Church to a group of laics, so that they could restore it. However, at that time citizens  had already lost memory about San Giuliano. Therefore, they dedicated the Church to Saint Lorenzo, the martyr. 

The current Basilica of San Giuliano dates back to the first decades of the 18th century. On the interior, we find two big canvas where scenes of the life of San Giuliano are present. 

A must-see in Gozzano is the Church of Madonna Del Boggio, outside the city center. If you are in Gozzano, you should also visit the Church of Santa Maria di Luzzara, with its frescos that date back to the 15th and the 16th century, the Church of San Biagio and the Church of Purificazione di Maria Vergine, in Alzate and Bugnate.

Photo by frank28883 on Flickr


Omegna, a town between culture and nature


Omegna, a little gem on Lake Orta 

Omegna is a town sitting on the northernmost end of Lake Orta, surrounded by mountains and crossed by river Nigoglia.

Omegna is an Italian town with more than 15 thousand inhabitants in the area of Verbano Cusio Ossola. This settlement sits on the northernmost end of Lake Orta, a body of water of glacial origin. People consider Lake Orta as the smallest but most typical lake in Northern Italy. Surrounded by mountains, the lake waters reflect the borders of Omegna. Then, water flows into the river Nigoglia, which later rejoins stream Strona, and finally reaching Lake Major. 

Omegna, must-see cultural places 

In Omegna, you find several cultural and religious venues that are worth visiting. Among these, the Parish of San Gaudenzio in Crusinallo, the most populated district of Omegna. Following 

In Omegna,  you can find several cultural and religious venues that are worth visiting. Among these, the Parish Church of San Gaudenzio is a must-see: you find it in Crusinallo, the most populous neighborhood in Omegna. In accordance with an ancient legend, the Church is considered as part of the 100 churches that Greek Missionary Saint Giulio founded. The original structure dates back to the eleventh century, as testified by the foundations of the first church and the basement of the bell tower. This church is built according to the principles of the Romanesque architectural style, even though the building was later widened and presents, as a consequence, some style modifications. 

On a hill, right next to the church, we find the San Rocco Youth Ministry, also known as “Chiesa del Castello” (Castle Church). This latter rises on the ruins of an ancient medieval tower, which Counts of Crusinallo, part of “Da Castello” family, built. 

Another impressive architectural work is the ancient bridge of Omegna. For a long period of time, the bridge was considered a Roman artifact. In reality, the structure is an ancient bridge dating back to the Sforza Visconti period, and was built only after 1490. Originally, two round-headed arches composed the bridge, but we hypothesize that a big mass fell down from the mountain in 1920 and burnt down the first arch.  

Built around the eleventh century, the Porta la Valle, today called Porta Romana, is an historical structure of great value for Omegna. This structure represents what remains of the five gates which appeared on the city walls during the Middle Ages. 

Then, the area of Omegna vaunts a great industrial past: the eighteenth century industrial settlement Ferriera (Ironworks) and Fabbricone Angeli-Frua (Angeli-Frua Manufacturing), which was a textile manufacturing company born in 1896, testify this. This latter was the result of the union between cotton mills and printing houses: of both settlements, people can still witness some architectural remains in Omegna, included the Angeli-Frua mill town

The most suggestive promenade

As per what concerns nature and its beauties, Omegna offers several hiking trails and promenades to admire spectacular landscapes. One of these is the Anello di Quarna (Quarna Ring): an accessible itinerary that starts in Cireggio and goes back. Following the directions that lead people to the mule-track, going towards the Santuario della Madonna del Fontegno (Church of the Holy Mary of Fontegno),and is possible to admire the Belvedere di Quarna Sopra  (The Viewpoint of Quarna Sopra), the artificial lake of Vorio, the small lakes of Nonio and the woods of maple and chestnut tree. 

Bagnella-Nonio is another track that nature lovers can take while in Omegna. After walking up to Oira, the path continues and heads towards Nonio, where you can visit both the historical center and the Laghetti (little ponds). By crossing Brolo, then, you will return to the point where one started, Bagnella, where it is possible to stop for a picnic at La Boschina, a park area with the equipment and shades you need. 

Another natural trail is the one connecting Omegna to Mottarone. The track starts with a wood and a viewpoint. Then, hikers can find Stream Manera and the Alpe della Barba (Alp of the Beard). Nature lovers can enter the birch tree, dubbed “Pian della Nave”(Plain of the Ship), and then move to reach the imposing granite rock of Omo. On the slopes of Mottarone, tourists can find Alp Mastrolino, from which you can enjoy a wonderful view on Omegna and Lake Orta.