Novara is a delightful city in the heart of the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. The city has a population of 105,000 and is the capital of the province of Novara. Novara is strategically located between the important cities of Turin and Milan, and is a commercial transportation hub between the two economic powerhouses. The city was originally settled in Roman times and was built near one of the main Roman roads from Vercelli to Milan. In the era that followed, Novara became part of the Lombard League, the Habsburg Empire, and eventually the unified Kingdom of Italy.
As a tourist destination, Novara benefits from close links with Milan and Turin, which you can easily reach on the busy A4 road. In addition, Novara has many wonderful historical buildings such as the Pyramid of Novara, Broletto and the Basilica of San Gaudenzio. In addition, the city has some beautiful parks and a range of high-quality restaurants and bars serving authentic Italian food and drinks.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Novara:
1. Basilica of San Gaudenzio
Undoubtedly the heart of the city, this cathedral can be seen from almost anywhere thanks to its massive central dome and 121m high cathedral.
Towering over the surrounding structure, the central dome is a masterpiece of 19th century architecture – it has several different levels and features a series of ornate columns.
The interior of the church is equally splendid and beautifully decorated, featuring a series of chapels covered in colorful frescoes.
The Faithful Chapel, for example, has a Central Renaissance painting, and the surrounding walls, arches, and ceiling are covered in some absolutely gorgeous artwork.
As Novara’s premier religious building, this cathedral is sure to impress.
2. Museo di Storia Naturale Faraggiana Ferrandi
This delightful museum benefits from free admission and is centrally located – right next to the Duomo di Novara.
For those who appreciate the natural world and wildlife, the museum displays taxidermy such as reindeer, badgers, kingfishers, lions, tigers and even polar bears.
Each display is well presented and contains a wealth of information related to the habitat and life cycle of the animals.
It’s a great place to take the kids – they’ll love the animals and they’ll find the museum educational.
3. Cocha Opera House
The Coccia Theatre is one of the most important theatrical buildings in the Piedmont region and is located in the Giacomo Puccini square next to the Parco dei Bambini.
Built in the 19th century, the theatre has a grand façade and façade with a series of white columns combined with cream coloured wall sections.
The interior is majestic, especially when lit before the show – the 4th-floor boxes encircle the stage in a semicircle, each row lit with golden lights.
The domed ceiling has gold motifs and a huge crystal chandelier in the center.
If you have the chance to watch an opera here, don’t miss it – it will be an unforgettable experience.
4. Novara Cathedral
While the Basilica of San Gaudenzio is generally considered the main religious building in Novara, the Basilica of Novara is just as important and features a neoclassical design.
Located in the heart of the historic city center, next to the Coccia Theater, the facade of the church looks more like a Roman temple – several stone columns support a triangular pediment that continues along one side of the Piazza della Repubblica .
Inside the church, the ceiling is supported by rows of dark columns, the central altar has a huge golden cross and some fine art.
Broletto is a historic complex in the centre of Novaro, just a short distance from the Cathedral and the Coccia Theatre.
As this complex has been developed over hundreds of years, it has four different architectural styles and is a truly interesting piece of history.
The different styles can be seen from the inner courtyard, the Palazzo Paratici is undoubtedly the most beautiful, with its double-detailed arches.
In addition to the beautiful architecture, Broletto also houses a modern art gallery with over 800 different pieces of post-19th century Italian art.
6. Pyramid of Novara
This bizarre structure is well known in Novara, it is actually called the ossuary of Bicocca.
Located on Via Marzo 1849, south of Novara, this stone pyramid houses the ashes of soldiers killed in the infamous battle of Novara in the 19th century.
Surrounded by a pleasant garden, the monument looks out of place compared to the relative urban area in which it is located.
Above the doorway, a huge bronze bird guards the entrance with a white cross on it, indicating its funeral purpose.
Although the pyramid cannot be entered, it is still an interesting site and part of Novara’s history.
7. Visit the historic old town of Vercelli
Another great destination close to Novara is the charming town of Vercelli – a town just 30 minutes southwest of Novara, with trains running between the two destinations every 8 minutes.
Vercelli is known as one of the oldest urban settlements in northern Italy, with a wonderful array of historic buildings and sites.
Famous sights include the stunning Vercelli Cathedral, the ornate St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Vercelli Synagogue.
In addition, Vercelli has some fantastic buildings such as Torre dell’Angelo and Teatro Civico.
If you’re looking for a cultural day trip, head to Vercelli!
8. Parco Naturale delle Lame del Sesia
If you want to explore the Italian countryside, Parco delle lame del Sesia is a great place to visit, just 15 minutes west of Novara.
This reserve is located on the banks of the Scythia River and covers a long stretch of waterway along the SP594 road.
You can explore the countryside using the various trails that meander near the river, or just go off track to explore the forests and pastures.
You might also consider renting a bike from Albano, a small town on the west side of the reserve.
It’s also a great spot for wildlife, and you can spot some interesting birds including cormorants, gulls and horned geese.
9. Parco dei Bambini
Parco dei Bambini is a great place to relax, soak up the sun and take a break from sightseeing.
This park is located in the southwest part of the historic city center, adjacent to Teatro Coccia.
There’s a stunning water feature in the center of the park with an ornate stone bridge – the center is a great place to take pictures.
Also, the park is full of beautiful trees and well-maintained walkways.
In addition, several historic statues and monuments, as well as other rich water features, add some character and class to the park.
10. Milan day trip
Located just 50 km west of Milan, Novara offers easy access to this bustling city.
Regular trains run from Novara city centre to Milan city centre every 30 minutes.
Milan is a fantastic travel destination with some world-class attractions such as the beautiful Gothic Cathedral, Galleria del Vittorio Emmanuelle and Sforzesco Castle.
Plus, Milan is simply fantastic for those who love to shop and browse high-end designer stores like Gucci, Prada and Luis Vuitton.
If you’ve already explored Novara thoroughly, why not take a trip to Milan and see what it has to offer?
11. Visit the town of Arona on Lake Maggiore
Vercelli benefits from its proximity to the stunning Lake Maggiore – this huge lake is the second largest in the country and straddles the borders of the Piedmont and Lombardy regions.
Arona is a pleasant town on the shores of Lake Maggiore, less than an hour from Vercelli.
Arona benefits from its excellent location on the lake, from which you can take boats to other towns such as Angela and Belgerat.
In addition, Arona has some beautiful sights of its own, including the huge Sancaron statue, La Roca Park and the Piazza del Popolo by the lake.
12. Dine at La Locanda delle Due Suocere
La Locanda is one of Novara’s excellent restaurants.
This restaurant is located in Corso Trieste, west of the historic city center.
La Locanda has a cosy environment and the staff will make you feel right at home – they’ll even make suggestions on which dishes you should try.
On the gourmet side, La Locanda offers some traditional Italian appetizers and entrees, such as a selection of cold cured meats, lasagna, tortellini and Carbonara.
Every dish is homemade and the taste and quality are top notch.
In addition, you can choose from a selection of fine wines to accompany your meal.
13. Grab a drink or two at the lively Clover Irish Pub
Novara’s nightlife options are limited, but the Clover Irish Pub is one of the city’s most famous.
You can find this fun and lively bar in Via Giulio Biglieri next to Parco dei Bambini.
Don’t let the unpretentious look put you off – upon entering the bar you’ll find a charming setting with some fantastic Irish themed decor – you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an old pub! At Clover, you can find a wide variety of ales, lagers and beers, as well as a wide range of spirits.
Also, the bar actually serves some light meals like burgers and pizza.
The atmosphere is cozy and lively, a great place to spend an evening.
14. Eat delicious pasta at Civico 27
Located in the historic old town, just a short walk from the train station, Civico 27 is a great place to sample delicious pasta dishes.
Consider making a reservation in advance as the restaurant is very popular so tables fill up quickly! Civico 27 has charming decor and attentive staff.
The menu includes some fine pasta dishes, as well as a variety of meats including Fasona beef.
Plus, you can choose from some absolutely stunning deserts, all packed with flavor and fantastic looks.
Civico 27 does provide a fantastic night of food that will leave a lasting impression.
15. Visit the town of Galliat
Just a stone’s throw from Novara, the small town of Galliat is a pleasant and charming place to visit.
By train (every hour from Novara) or a 20-minute drive, you can reach this town in 15 minutes.
The town has several very interesting historical sites, including Castello Sfozesco and Chiesa San Pietro e Paolo.
In addition, Galliate has several well-known streets and squares ideal for shopping, including Via Dante Alighieri and Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Novara, Italy
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