Get swept up in the events that the province of Vercelli offers throughout the year: culture, music, tradition, food, and sports. Make once-in-a-lifetime memories during your stay in the Vercelli area!
Rosario Fiorito, Alagna Valsesia
A devotional procession common among the Walser, a people of German origin who settled at the foot of Monte Rosa centuries ago, and who left behind evidence of their religious, historic-artistic, and artisan traditions. This procession takes place at Alpe Vigne, above Alagna, on the first Sunday of October. It originated from the custom that the valley dwellers had of going to pray the rosary on the Sesia glacier, below Monte Rosa, for the souls that wandered there in the form of butterflies. After reciting the rosary, they would have a snack and then throw the leftovers into the crevasses to feed the spirits. The custom was revived in 1982.
Sapori d’Alta Quota, Alagna Valsesia
A market that also offers tastings of outstanding culinary products from Upper Piedmont. The market is held in the heart of Monte Rosa at the Passo dei Salati, at 2971 metres. Sapori d’Alta Quota is an event dedicated to typical products from Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, not to be missed during the Valsesia summer. The featured products are cured meats, cheeses, bread, and honey. But it’s not just cold dishes. Some dishes are cooked on location and served hot, such as polenta, ravioli, and pasta. There’s also no shortage of wineries and craft breweries.
fiera valsesiAna del bestiame
BORGOSESIA, FOBELLO, ALAGNA loc. Riva Valdobbia, ALTO SERMENZA, SCOPELLO, CAMPERTOGNO, RIMELLA, QUARONA fraz. Doccio
These are spring and winter events, coinciding with the seasonal movement of livestock, in which herds of cattle, sheep, and goats are gathered and shown, and during which it’s possible to enjoy the valley’s traditional culinary products and admire local handicrafts.
i giorni della toma – i giorni della birra, Quarona
“The Toma days” is an event created to promote and exalt the Valsesia region’s dairy industry and the consumption of fresh milk. Activities and events are aimed at highlighting the importance of mountain pastures in the alpine area, with a particular focus on production techniques, from fresh milk to cheese, and emphasising the excellence of Valsesia’s cheese production
“The Beer Days” are dedicated to promoting microbreweries in Piedmont and exalting the characteristics and qualities of the world’s oldest craft beer production.
FESTIVAL del mirtillo, Rassa
Established in 1969 with the objective of offering tourists the fruits of an abundant blueberry harvest on the August bank holiday, today the festival is an important summer event for many tourists, as well as for the inhabitants of the valley themselves.
Paired with an exhibition of typical Valsesia handicrafts, in which the various objects are made and presented on the same day, on this occasion it’s also possible to taste approximately 70 different types of grappa (bitter, dry, sweet, or aromatic) in a wide variety of flavours.
Monte Rosa Sky Marathon, Alagna Valsesia
A hugely important race for Alta Valsesia. It starts at Piazza Grober in Alagna (at 1,192 metres) and ends at Europe’s highest mountain hut, the Capanna Regina Margherita (at 4,554 metres). The race takes place in pairs and covers a total of 35 km and 3,490 metres in a single climb. At the same time, a Sky Race from Alagna to Indren is held. This is an individual race covering a total distance of 22 km and 4,000 metres, between ascent and descent.
Sentiermangiando, Fobello AND Cervatto
A traditional culinary stroll along Valsesia’s ancient trails, which offers the opportunity to taste local products while sipping the wines of the Enoteca Regionale of Gattinara and of the Terre del Nebbiolo in Northern Piedmont, as well as enjoying the local art and nature.
Festa delle Guide, Alagna Valsesia
A traditional feast of the Alpine Guides, with a parade, live musical accompaniment, Holy Mass, climb to the bell tower, and lunch.
Natale alpino, Valsesia
Every year, in a different mountain location, the Italian Alpine Club organises an Alpine Christmas, with a rendezvous and torchlight procession to the church where Holy Mass is celebrated, ending with the exchange of holiday greetings over mulled wine, chocolate, and panettone.
Musica a Rima, Alto Sermenza
Concerts that are widely acclaimed by both critics and the public: big names from the classical and jazz music scene in Valsesia.
A festival dedicated to the noble art of theatrical puppetry is held in various locations in the Valsesia region, offering days packed with events and performances.
i presepi di POSTUA
Since 1984, the town has been setting up nativity scenes along the village streets, with unique displays in every corner, in the gardens, and under the arcades.
alagna sotto le stelle
The traditional torchlight procession of ski instructors who, with skis on their feet, descend the slopes above the town of Alagna all the way to its main piazza, where a light show is held followed by music and entertainment. Throughout the day, a market of traditional handicrafts and culinary specialities is set up along the streets of the town centre.
Sera dei Lumi, Guardabosone
Wandering shows in the town’s historic centre: music, folklore, theatre, magic, and handicrafts all by lamplight, creating a magical atmosphere.
CARNeVALe di BORGOSESIA – MERCÛ SCÛROT
The most traditional and characteristic expression of Borgosesia’s Carnival, the Mercû Scûrot, was established in 1854 by a group of pranksters who decided to celebrate the “funeral” of Carnival in their own way on Ash Wednesday, accompanying a casket containing a straw puppet that represents Carnival through the streets of the medieval village. The following year, the puppet was given the name “Peru Magunella”: Peru from the local pronunciation of the town’s patron saint (St. Peter), and Magunella from “Magoni”, a nickname by which the people of Borgosesia were identified. It wasn’t until 30 years later that the puppet was replaced by a person and given a consort, the “Gin Fiammàa”. The Saturday night dance parties are characteristic of Borgosesia’s carnival, as are the evenings dedicated to cultural events and the three separate afternoon masked parades.
Sacra rappresentazione, Quarona
Since the 1980s, the Stations of the Cross, an actual re-enactment of the Passion of Christ, has been performed in the Quarona municipality on Good Friday. The Sacred Good Friday Performance in Quarona is like none other in the province of Vercelli. It started in 1982 and has earned more and more support each year, ultimately becoming one of the most popular events in the valley. The scenes used to be performed in different locations around the city, but now, as of 2019, are performed in Piazza Silvio Pellico before moving to the area around the church of San Giovanni al Monte. On the evening of Good Friday, the 18 scenes of the Stations of the Cross are re-enacted.
Days dedicated to a market/exhibit of commercial, artisan, and industrial activities and showcasing the Local Heritage Boards, institutions, and associations of Valsesia. The event also offers moments dedicated to art and culture, as well as the opportunity to attend free shows and concerts by well known Italian musicians in the splendid setting of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
Ample space is given to local food and wine and the city of Varallo is decorated festively for the duration of the event.
festa della musica, VARALLO
On this occasion, the town of Varallo, capital of the beautiful Valsesia area, is populated by singers, musicians, bands, and amateurs from all genres and backgrounds who perform their own songs or covers in the town’s streets, alleys, piazzas, and courtyards or in front of its small but charming bars. A festive atmosphere in which every corner of the city is brightened by the notes of various musical genres which have the wonderful power to bring different generations together. The European Music Festival is celebrated simultaneously in 85 countries.
CARNeVALe di Varallo
Varallo’s Carnival begins on 6 January (referred to in carnival terms as ‘the day of old Easter Monday’) and ends on the first day of Lent with the Trial of Marcantonio (the main Mask). During the trial, the most salient details of the town’s history are poked fun at. It concludes with a good-luck bonfire, a recurring characteristic of Alpine carnivals. The moments that aren’t to be missed include the presentation of Cecca, Marcantonio’s consort whose identity is concealed until the evening of the party dedicated to her; the Carnevalaà n’t’la straà, with games and shows for children; Giobiaccia Thursday; the Bal d’la Lum, a great masked ball; the Paniccia Reale; and the Trial of Marcantonio.
concorso iNTERNAzIONALe VALSESIA MUSICa
This competition, established in 1998, is a product of the genius intuition of Vincenzo Balzani, Artistic Director of the then Viotti – Valsesia International Competition (today Valsesia Musica), and is divided into several sections: violin and orchestra, piano, opera, and a special category for young musicians (Monterosa Kawai). Since its inception, the violin and orchestra section has attracted the attention of the most promising and talented string musicians worldwide. The reasons for this rapid success, both quantitatively and qualitatively, are due to the attractiveness of the programme and the prospect, all the more enticing for a young musician, of being able to perform with a large symphony orchestra. A very simple formula that has proven to be the key to success for this competition, which boasts an extraordinarily prestigious hall of fame.
Processione delle sette marie
While on the evening of Good Friday the procession takes place exclusively within the town, starting at the Collegiate Church of San Gaudenzio and arriving at the Church of San Giacomo before turning back, on the afternoon of Palm Sunday the procession leaves from the Collegiate Church of San Gaudenzio and reaches the evocative Sacro Monte. During the procession, in which seven unmarried women with their faces covered by black veils form a mournful tableau, two of them hold up a third who carries the cross, covered in a white sheet and without the body of Christ, while the others arrange themselves in a sort of symbolic square around them. Following the Seven Marys are the members of the Confraternity of the Holy Trinity, wearing blue robes and carrying lanterns, and those of the Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament who, dressed in red robes, lead the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows in procession.
GATTINARA LUVA is a three-day celebration of one of Italy’s greatest wines and one of the most prestigious harvest-related events in Piedmont. The purpose of the Gattinara Grape Festival is to introduce thousands of visitors to the region’s beauty and to its outstanding local products, first and foremost the ‘Gattinara D.O.C.G.’. The programme is packed with events that liven up the streets of the city and the numerous “tabine” set up for the occasion. The activities are for everyone, with a special focus on families and children: LUVA is an event for everyone!
Fiera di San Martino
The fair takes place on the second Tuesday of November, attracting a large number of visitors who take advantage of this occasion to find small treasures among the stalls set up throughout the town centre. The Fiera di San Martino is also the moment in which the next carnival in Gattinara is made official: if the town band, the Corpo Musicale S. Cecilia, parades through the main street, it means that the associations have come to an agreement for its celebration.
MUSA – METTI UNA SERA A VERCELLI
Starting in 2021, Vercelli began hosting the prestigious summer festival “Metti una sera… a Vercelli” [Put on an evening… in Vercelli], which features dozens of theatrical, musical, and dance performances as well as film screenings in the Piazza dell’Antico Ospedale, just steps from the city’s historic centre. For the entire summer, Vercelli is a stage for concerts by well-known Italian musicians and high-profile performances that get the whole city involved, livening up its historic streets.
CARNeVALe di VERCELLI
Vercelli’s Carnival has become a well-known event, even outside of the region. It begins with the presentation of Vercelli’s main masks, the Bicciolano and his consort, the Bela Majin, continues with parties, district fagiolate (bean soup dinners), and children’s dances, and climaxes with the most famous and highly anticipated moment of all: the parade of floats and masked groups. These are special moments that embody the true spirit of carnival, in which numerous carnival committees from all over the province participate; an event that’s met with a positive response from an ever-growing public who’s ready to joyfully experience a time of year when anything is possible. The parades take place on Viale Garibaldi on the two Sundays preceding the end of the carnival period.
la fattoria in città
Ancient crafts are revived, educational stands are set up, and exhibits, food and wine tastings, and floral competitions are organized in the town’s historic centre, at the picturesque Sant’Andrea Abbey and along Viale Garibaldi. However, the real protagonists are the farm animals, which are “accommodated” in the green spaces surrounding the Sant’Andrea Abbey for the occasion. This is a unique opportunity to learn more about the Vercelli region’s history.
The Raccolti Festival is a festival of new narratives, held in Vercelli at the Piazza dell’Antico Ospedale. Three days of meetings, readings, concerts, and performances. Three days to explore the new narratives that surround us and to give the public some keys for interpreting them. Various of the city’s cultural institutions are involved in the Raccolti Festival, first and foremost the museums, hosting events that contribute to creating an ambitious festival that’s rich in personality and content.
viotti day & night
Utidal wave of music and events that, for two days, transforms first Vercelli and then Fontanetto Po, into a tribute to Giovan Battista Viotti, Piedmont’s greatest composer and musician of all time. Viotti Day & Night is now a regular appointment in the cultural life of the area and is organised by Camerata Ducale, the City of Vercelli, and the Municipality of Fontanetto Po with the collaboration of the concurrent Raccolti Festival. The most popular part of the festival among spectators is definitely the Face to Face Concerts: no less than 150 mini-concerts (lasting approximately 10 minutes each), performed for individual spectators, at five historic locations in the city. The Face to Face events, which are completely free of charge but must be booked in advance, give people the opportunity to listen to exceptional musicians while also discovering, or rediscovering, various corners of Vercelli.
trofeo internazionale di spada a squadre “Marcello e Franco Bertinetti”
Established in 1967 by Aldo Venè, this trophy was intended to commemorate the figure of the great Marcello Bertinetti. The competition, which since 1995 has also been named after Franco Bertinetti, takes place in Vercelli (a city that boasts one of the best fencing schools in the world as well as an outstanding marksman tradition) and involves the participation of the teams that have ranked in the top four places during the World Championships, in addition to the Italian national team, of course. The prize up for grabs is a bronze trophy representing a fencer, resting on a silver plinth. The closing ceremony, in which the two finalist teams compete against one another on the stage of the city’s theatre, is particularly enthralling. Until 2004, the competition was one of the events in the Fencing World Cup.
concorso internazionale di musica G.B. VIOTTI
Established in 1950 by Joseph Robbone, a musician from Vercelli, this prestigious international competition serves as a springboard for talented young musicians looking to get their start. Many great artists have graced the stage of the Viotti Competition before embarking on brilliant international careers, among them Luciano Pavarotti, Claudio Abbado, and Salvatore Accardo, to name just a few. The competition is held annually in the province’s capital. It is one of the few international competitions to include multiple musical disciplines and to boast separate juries for each section, composed of eminent musicians, musicologists, critics, and artists, from both Italy and abroad. The alternating sections are piano and opera.
festival di poesia civile “Città di Vercelli”
A festival admitted to the UNESCO World Poetry Directory. Established in 2005, it is the only Italian festival celebrating this important aspect of contemporary poetry, with an annual lifetime achievement award that has attracted great national and international authors to Vercelli for past editions and with readings by Italian poets and tributes to influential authors. The function of poetry in civil life is a complex and pertinent topic and the festival offers a broad and stimulating overview of it.
Sagra d’la Panissa
This festival was established in 1991 thanks to some residents and shopkeepers who wanted to promote one of Vercelli’s historic districts, Porta Casale, through one of the most typical dishes of Vercelli’s culinary tradition: panissa. Over the years, the festival has gone from being a one-day celebration to a six-day event during which, in addition to enjoying delicious traditional local dishes, there is no shortage of musical entertainment. Evenings of dance, performances, and demonstrations by dance schools, with a special focus on culture and sport. This is why, over the years, the Panissa Festival has become an unmissable event.
Organised by the Cervetto District in the Piazzale Ex-Montefibre, this festival offers an opportunity to try this typical dish and to have a fun evening out, combining the flavours of the local culinary tradition with the chance to enjoy some after dinner music, dancing, and merriment. Many other initiatives are organised concurrently to this festival (cultural, athletic, and charitable events) with which Vercelli bids farewell to the summer season.
Sagra della Rana
This is the “oldest” festival in the province of Vercelli. A simple but meaningful get-together in 1976, during which only frogs were eaten, gave life to this popular culinary event. The primary goal of the festival is to promote Vercelli’s Capuchin district, its traditions, and the challenging and strenuous past of its people, focusing in particular on the area’s most typical trades such as the “ranatè” and the “’ranatera”, as well as the “starnighin” (paver) and the “pascadur” (fisherman). During the evenings of the festival you can taste frog-based dishes prepared according to old traditional recipes, as well as other specialities of Vercelli’s cuisine. And of course after dinner there’s no shortage of singing and dancing with the great show orchestras that liven up these last evenings of summer.
Processione delle Macchine
This event originated in 1833, when the processions that were organised by the individual confraternities (which began in the 18th century and were soon regulated by a precise order of appearance) joined that of the Holy Crucifix of Saint Andrew’s Company, which took place in Vercelli on Good Friday. The so-called “machines” are sculptural groups, made from coloured wood, which represent the various episodes of the Passion of Christ, from the olive garden to the Crucifixion. In ancient times, the stretcher used for carrying sick people was called a “machine”. The term later came to mean, in a broader sense, the base on which statues were placed for transport. The “machines” are transferred on Friday to the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, where the procession that brings them all together begins. It then continues by candlelight and torchlight through the streets and piazzas of the town’s centre. A relic of the Holy Cross is also carried in the procession.
Fiera di Maggio
This is undoubtedly one of the most important public trade shows to take place in the province. It’s held along Viale della Rimembranza and remains open to the public from morning until late afternoon. Each year the Fiera di Maggio welcomes more than 100,000 visitors and hosts more than 400 businesses from all over Italy, displaying a wide range of products: from food and wine to handicrafts, from both Italy and abroad; from clothing to decorative objects; and from household items to leather goods. A variety of products that, over the years, has become a strength of this trade show, which takes place just before summer.
Fiera in Campo, Caresanablot
Organised by the Vercelli section of ANGA (the National Association of Young Farmers) at the town’s Exhibition Centre, this fair welcomes more than 130 exhibitors and features stands offering the most varied selection of products connected to the Vercelli area and its traditions: from agriculture to food and wine, and from the exhibition of cars to that of handcrafted objects made by both hobbyists and artisan craftsmen. There is also a catering service.
Fiera della Festa di Tutti i Santi
A fair held every year on Viale Rimembranza that recalls an old custom. The people who would visit the cemetery on All Saints’ Day would walk along Viale Rimembranza, where peddlers would sell their products, especially chestnuts. In recent years, the event has been revived and modernized by ASCOM, with exhibitors coming from all over Italy.
An event organized on the first Sunday in October by the Vercelli Events Committee, which is constantly working on various initiatives that promote the region’s history and traditions. This event features a parade of historic costumes from Vercelli and the surrounding regions. The parade starts at Piazza Pajetta and reaches Piazza Cavour.
concerto di SAN SILVESTRO
Presented by the Camerata Ducale Orchestra at the Teatro Civico, this concert has become a staple for chamber music aficionados who wish to greet the new year with music.
TERRE DEL RISO EVENTS
cARNeVALe storico di Santhià
The oldest carnival celebration in Piedmont. Its origins are rooted in the Abadia (first mentioned in a document dating from 1338), which was then replaced around the 18th century by the Antica Società Fagiolesca, the ancestor of today’s Carnival Committee. The highlights of this carnival are the presentation of the masks and the handing over of the keys, an occasion to poke fun at the town’s history; the three masked parades, held on the afternoons of Carnival Sunday and Carnival Tuesday and on the night of Carnival Monday; and the largest fagiolata (bean soup dinner) in Italy, on Monday, during which some 20,000 portions are served. A unique characteristic: on the morning of the fagiolata, the Corpo Pifferi e Tamburi (Pipes and Drums Corps), one of the oldest and most important military units in Italy, starts waking up the town at 5am, especially the captains of the piazza who preside over the fagiolata, receiving a warm welcome at the houses they go to despite the early hour. During the course of the carnival celebrations, the Pule (a kind of offering of objects) and the Congreghe (during which the objects collected during the Pule are auctioned off) take place, as well as parties and popular games, getting everyone involved in what is surely the craziest time of the year. The carnival celebrations end with the burning of the ‘Babaciu’, or Carnival King.
Corsa dei Buoi, Caresana
Some say this custom originated from a religious vow that the population made when praying for the end of the plague, but it more likely arose spontaneously. In fact, for St. George’s Day it was customary to take the animals, yoked to carts, in procession all the way to the so-called pylon, a kind of milestone outside the residential area. Returning to the town, each driver wanted to be the first to bring back the blessed bread, and thus tried to overtake the other carts by prodding on his own pair of oxen. This may be how the race originated, with the ceremony around it becoming more institutionalised as the centuries passed: the starting positions are now drawn by lottery, the oxen are covered with garlands and caparisons and the drawbars of the carts are decorated; and the procession of the patron Saint’s relics has been added. Afterward, Holy Mass is celebrated in the church of St. George and, at the moment of the Evangelisation, the oxen are led in three votive and propitiatory laps and then placed in front of the starting rope. The mayor, after reciting the words ‘resti pitiquesti dareissá vechí pumín via’, fires the starting gun. The race ends with the arrival at the “cavetto”.
Corsa dei Buoi, Asigliano
This race, another version of the one held annually in Caresana, probably began following a religious vow made to the town’s patron saint during the 15th century, when a bout of plague was devastating the population throughout the region. Starting in 1436, the Feast of Saint Victor and the Racing of the Oxen have been celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Initially, the ceremony required that the citizens of Asigliano, after singing the Deus Teorum Militum, untie four pairs of oxen along the lea dla stassion as a thank you to Saint Victor.Today the event is characterised by additional elements, from markets to performances and from evenings of dance to dinners, without overlooking tradition.