Omegna

With its enchanting backdrop of mountains, the town of Omegna, at the northern end of Lake Orta, is a perfect union of tradition and innovation. Well-known for its kitchenware industry, it also boasts an attractive old town centre by the side of the lake.

If you walk along the pedestrian esplanade that goes from one end of the lakefront to the other, you can see the small porticoes typical of a village founded by the Romans and already in existence in the 4th century AD. At that time the village was protected inside its circle of walls, in which there were five gates; today only one remains, in Via Speri close to Piazza Beltrami.

In the most ancient part of the town, in the neighbourhood between the Parish Church and Piazza Orsoline, it’s easy to find evidence of centuries-old features such as doorways, stone and stucco ornamentation and wrought iron gates. Other evidence of the historic character of Omegna comes from the imposing Collegiate Church of Sant’Ambrogio, founded in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 13th, and the Church of San Gaudenzio, in the adjacent village of Crusinallo, one of the best-preserved Romanesque buildings in the Cusio area.

Another distinctive feature of Omegna is the Nigoglia canal, the only watercourse running out of a pre-Alpine lake in a northerly direction, towards the high mountains. A short walkway on the river bank affords a pleasant stroll to watch the river and its fish.

Omegna is also the birthplace of Gianni Rodari, the famous writer for children, to whom the Parco della Fantasia (Fantasy Park) is dedicated. This is an open area designed for children to use their imagination to find different forms of play and entertainment. The park’s appearance is that of a fantasy village, with twenty different play places and fabulous games.

The town is a major centre of the Italian kitchenware industry. You can make purchases at the outlets of historic brands such as Alessi, Lagostina and Piazza, and visit the Omegna Forum, a multicultural centre run by the Museum, Arts and Industry Foundation of Omegna which displays a permanent collection of the cult kitchenware articles produced locally.

Not to be missed is the August Festival of San Vito, the patron saint of the town, which includes a series of concerts and of which the prime event is the International Firework Festival, a hugely popular occasion and an opportunity to see the best firework displays in the world in the incomparable setting of Lake Orta.

 

Monte Zuoli

Monte Zuoli

Monte Zuoli (400 m) is a hill 3 km from Omegna, with some interesting evidence of prehistoric culture.

The rocky hillside has a number of prehistoric engravings, including about 20 large cup marks, acknowledged as the finest of this size in the province.

About a hundred metres below this point there is a stretch of the rock slope which has been worn away and presents the appearance of a slide, apparently due to an ancient practice whereby people rubbed themselves against the rock. Tradition has it that in more recent times women used to come here and slide down the smooth stretch of rock as a kind of fertility rite.

Monte Zuoli is a lovely place for easy walks in a splendid natural setting; the view over Lake Orta from the top of the hill is superb.

Campello Monti (Val Strona)

Campello Monti

The ancient village of Campello Monti is the farthest inhabited place in the Strona Valley, and retains all the charm of an old Walser settlement.

Situated at an altitude of 1,305 mt a.s.l., the village is an architectural jewel: a cluster of pastel coloured houses with the stone slab roofs typical of this area. One of the finest buildings is the late Baroque 18th century Parish Church of San Giovanni Battista, with a rich array of furnishings and vestments, including frescoes by Lorenzo Peracino.

The Walser roots of the village are seen in the Walsergemeinschaft Kampel, the Walser Association of Campello, which since 1993 has promoted cultural events and stimulated research into Campello Monti, with the intention of highlighting the value of the village in its Strona Valley context. One of these events is the series of conferences entitled “Campello and the Walsers”, which is held on the first Saturday in August and attracts many researchers and experts in local history.

In its location between the green slopes of the lower valley and the high mountain peaks above, Campello is an excellent point of departure for easy mountain walks. Recommended excursions are to the Alpine lakes of Capezzone and Ravinella, and the trails leading to Monte Capio and the Altemberg.

Campello underwent a major development from the middle of the 19th century until 1946 due to the exploitation of the nearby nickel mines, which for years were the only ones in Europe.

 Upper and Lower Quarna

Quarna

 

The twin villages of Quarna Sopra (Upper Quarna) and Quarna Sotto (Lower Quarna) were first settled by people of Celtic origin called the “Karmi”.

These two picturesque places are favourite holiday centres thanks to their mild climate, their beautiful scenery and the wealth of mountain hikes and walks the district offers.

Quarna Sotto is famous for its long-established tradition of making wind instruments; jazz musicians from all over the world have been clients of its craft workshops. The village has an unusual Museum of Local Culture and Musical Instruments, where over three hundred wind instruments are on display, some of them rare and of historical interest.

Quarna Sopra also has its traditional cottage industry of wood-turning. The village has many holiday houses of considerable architectural interest.

Some of the trails in the district are connected with episodes relating to the Resistance during the Second World War; this was the area in which the brigade of the renowned partisan leader Captain Beltrami was active.

 Household Good District

Household District

The household article district of the Province of Verbano Cusio Ossola is one of the most prominent and renowned household article districts in Italy. The household article district mark - Lago Maggiore Casalinghi - was established in 2006 to seize the opportunity to promote itself on international markets in a coordinated manner and so that customers can recognise the quality, attention to manufacture, the tradition and the ethics characteristic of the area that go into these products.

These are the outlets found in the area:
Alessi: Household goods and gifts of first and second choice, end of line articles, unsold articles and articles used in exhibitions, displays and photo-shoots. Held in Crusinallo di Omegna – Phone 0323 868648
Lagostina: Cookware including non-stick pans, steel saucepans and pressure cookers as well as cutlery and small electric appliances by Lagostina, Tefal, Krups, Moulinex and Rowenta; 50% discount on second choice Lagostina and Tefal products. Held in Omegna – Phone 0323 652313
Calderoni: Cutlery in silver plated 18/10 stainless steel; cutlery in silver plated nickel; cookware; tableware in stainless steel, silver plated steel and silver plated nickel. Held in Casale Corte Cerro – Phone 0323 60335
Arté: Interior décor and furnishing accessories in stainless steel and solid wood, trolleys, cutting boards, wine serving accessories and grindstones. Held in Omegna – Phone 0323 63934
Piazza: Professional kitchen tools and equipment. Held in Crusinallo – Phone 0323 6605

Arts & Industry Museum Foundation

Forum

The Forum of Omegna houses a permanent collection of household articles made in the factories of the local Cusio area. The high-tech, quality production of these articles has long been a feature of this area, which over the years has seen the collaboration of the top designers in the world.

Historic companies whose products are on display here include Alessi, recognised as a world leader in kitchenware design, Lagostina, one of the pioneers in the sector, and Bialetti, whose history is inextricably linked to the invention of the most famous coffee percolator in Italy.

Information panels punctuate the tour of the museum, recounting the history of these firms from the 19th century to today, along with the evolution of advertising. The major figures in the sector are shown in photographs highlighting the industrial and personal aspects of their lives.

The exhibition is laid out in four rooms. Audio guides are available, with recordings of interviews, anecdotes and behind-the-scenes episodes recounted by the protagonists of the industry, involving the visitor and bringing the history alive.

Throughout the year the Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions on the theme of design, in an international as well as a local context.

 

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