If you get to Vercelli for the first time, you will regret that you have waited so long, that you have considered the city just as a way station. On the contrary, you will find a coffer that stores masterpieces of art, a long-lasting history, first-class events, centuries-old traditions, refined food and wine and a friendly, polite welcome of the citizens.
You may lose all sense of time in the beautiful St. Andrew’s Abbey, which celebrates its 800th anniversary since the laying of its first stone. You will be touched by the Cathedral’s monumental Cross in silver foil of the 10th century or by the frescoes by Gaudenzio Ferrari in San Cristoforo, which are among the most accomplished expressions of the Renaissance painting in Piedmont.
You should plan to stay a couple of days, to make a stop to Vercelli renowned museums: the Museum “Borgogna“, which is the second art gallery in Piedmont for the quantity and the quality of the works on display (paintings, furniture, décor, applied arts); the Museum “Leone“, which is the historical shrine of the town, with its archaeological collections, incunabula, prints, paintings, historical fabrics, and a considerable collection of applied arts.
The Cathedral Treasury Museum was open in 2000; it is conveniently set in the Archbishop’s palace, and keeps precious antiquities (including the famous “Vercelli Book“) and examples of the history of the diocese. The Civic Archaeological Museum “Bruzza” was open in 2009; it collects some 600 artifacts and illustrates the history of the ancient municipium of Vercelli with interactive and multimedia devices.
Then you may enjoy a walk through the lovely streets and squares of the old town. You will be surprised by the lavishness of a church, the sumptuousness of a palace or the beauty of a view. Life beats in Piazza Cavour, the heart of the city, and the seat of the ancient Roman forum.
Every season is good for a visit to Vercelli. Every month it reserves an event which snips out its secrets. Enjoy the Carnival, the evocative Procession of the “Macchine” on Good Friday, the summer festivals, the theatre and concerts seasons, the football matches of Pro Vercelli and, of course, the Viotti Competition, a crucial stage of the festive calendar of the city.
Wherever you stop, you can taste the products of the best Piedmontese food and wine. Have you ever heard the popular saying “Rice is born in water and dies in wine”? Don’t miss a delicious panissa and a sip of Gattinara, then!