Biella Creative City

Biella is a small town conveniently located a few kilometres between Turin and Milan. Laying among the Alps in the north-east part of Piedmont, it is surrounded by numerous natural parks and protected areas (such as the Burcina Park “Felice Piacenza” and the “Baragge” natural reserves, or the “Zegna Oasis”, sponsored by FAI, Italian Heritage Trust from 2004.

Small but lively, Biella reveals a multifaceted personality, thanks to its diverse geographical features: Biella “Piano”, the modern city, Biella “Piazzo”, the ancient centre, reachable by a picturesque cable cart, the riverside area around the Cervo creek that runs through the town, famous for its historic woollen mills and now representing the beating heart of the new entrepreneurial creativity (Fondazione Sella, Sella LAB, Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto) .

Biella also hosts several artistic and cultural museums, as well as textile archives: from the Museo del Territorio Biellese (the museum of Biella’s region), where you can discover local history through its archaeology and art sections, to the Centro Rete Archivi Tessili e Moda (textiles and fashion archives network), which also holds the DocBi’s archives and the collection belonging to the Centro Documentazione Camera del Lavoro (the documentation centre of the local labour organization).

And last but not least, in Biella you can find the most important catholic church dedicated to the Holy Virgin, the Madonna Nera di Oropa (Oropa “Black Madonna”), situated at an altitude of 1,200 m in the Oropa Sacro Monte (“Sacred Mountain”) natural reserve.

Crafts & Folk Art

Industrious, hard-working, but always at the forefront in terms of innovation, experimentation, manufacturing and artistic creativity: Biella, traditionally known as a discreet city, now is eager to show its rich and complex identity to the Creative Cities Network, and ready to open and develop new relationship and cooperation channels.

And this new and awaited creative season has been welcomed with enthusiasm by its territory and its people: “We must show the courage to be ‘more arrogant’”, is the great and meaningful statement made by Biella fashion designer and entrepreneur of the wool industry Nino Cerruti, who turned 88 years old in September 2018, during the Open Meeting with Creative Cities (Biella, 1 January 2019). “Let’s acknowledge our value and our history: sometimes in today’s world, if you want to be heard, you have to raise your voice”.


Creativity over the centuries

Biella’s textile industry dates back to ancient times. The poorly fertile hills surrounding the city forced its inhabitants, since the XVII century, to concentrate on sheep farming and the subsequent manufacturing of yarn and textile products (i.e. Fratelli Piacenza, which is still today one of the most renowned Biella’s wool mills in the cachemire sector, was founded in 1733).

Thanks to its strategic position at the foothills of the Alps and conveniently located near several waterways (it is the peculiar chemical composition of the local water that confers Biella’s textile products their world renowned excellence), Biella and its territory ended up becoming a single extended workshop of drapery makers and tailors, whose products were then sent to the city and its thriving textile market, the last stop of the so-called “Wool Road” that runs across medieval and modern Europe, and that today connects Biella to Australia or New Zealand (sheep farming and wool production).

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