The Elvo Valley, the history of one of Biella’s mountains
Driving up the Elvo Valley towards Sordevolo, you are immediately struck by the magnificent rocky face of Mount Mucrone, a landmark for the 15 villages and 22,000 inhabitants of the area. At night a light on the cross on its peak draws your attention.
The River Elvo springs from the rocks in this area. The incredible force of the current has carved deep, narrow gorges near Sordevolo, known as the Infernone (Hell), and are linked to local legends about the devil.
Exploring fauna and flora
The gentle slopes on one side of the valley contrast with deep gorges on the other. Sordevolo is surrounded by woodland and pastures, scattered with cottages, linked by a network of paths. The chestnut is of prime importance for food and wood. In the undergrowth you can find blueberries, mushrooms, heather and ferns. In autumn, the landscape is ablaze with colours as spectacular as the spring flowers
Quiet observers can spot animals such as buzzards, grouse, eagles,boar and many others.
Strolls and mountain walks
Sordevolo is a fascinating village to wander around. Each narrow street and courtyard holds something of interest.
Following the village canal leads upwards to woods and canyons carved by the force of the water. Abundance of water has been Sordevolo’s fortune. In the past in turned machinery.
San Grato and Ponte Ambrosetti (bridge) are nearby, while Trappa and Bagneri are a little further. Fit walkers will find many longer paths with varied landscape. The mountain shelter Coda (2280) between Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta is well sign-posted. Several gruelling races pass by here, including one dedicated to Cesare Pedrazzo, an excellent athlete and Satan in the Passion.
A network of paths on foot and horseback
Sordevolo is a on the St Carlo walk, which later joins the via Francigena at Viverone Lake. The Saint often walked through this area as can be seen in church frescoes. The unspoilt surroundings are ideal for outdoor sports. There is a network of paths that are also part of a week-long 200 km horse ride. It starts from Graglia, passes Trappa, which has overnight stables. Then Oropa and the Cervo valley to St Giovanni of Andorno Sanctuary.
Infernone – assisted climbing and canyoning
This is an assisted climb through spectacular scenery, along canyons carved in the rocks along the Elvo. It is not particularly difficult but requires climbing equipment and should be avoided after heavy rain (www.parcodellinfernone.com). It is 15 minutes from the centre of Sordevolo, at the end of via Bagneri, just before the bridge over the stream. The climb takes 3 hours and then half an hour’s walk back. The stream also offers canyoning with diving and swimming and trout fishing.
The mountains above Sordevolo offer perfect conditions for all year round for paragliding and hang-gliding. There is a school (www.aeroclubbiella.com). The local club “Parapendio Biella” has staff qualified for twin flights.
There are rock, ice, assisted climbs for all levels as well as cross country skiing. Some can be reached from the Oropa cablecar. Information is at www.montagnabiellese.com.
Valle Elvo Ecomuseum and the Biella Museum Network
There is a network of ecomuseums which provide information about culture, history and local working activities e.g. the Passion, gold-panning, metal-working, minerals. More information is available at (www.atl.biella.it/rete).