Riserva di

Ivrea

Riserva di

Ivrea

A Force of Nature

A small Roman city sat at the foot of the Alps, Ivrea is a place where contrasting forces have always coexisted. A land where the ancient glaciers distorted the territory and moulded the Serra Moraine, in Ivrea traditions and history mingle with a spirit of innovation. Home to the industrial visionary Olivetti and his factory, Ivrea is also the colourful city of the famous orange carnival, the patented Torta '900 cake and a fascinating Roman amphitheatre.

Discover all the excellence in this Riserva

  • Places & Landscapes
  • Culture
  • Food & Wine
  • Passionate Individuals
  • Events

A Mountain Breeze

Balmetti of Borgofranco

A Mountain Breeze

Balmetti of Borgofranco

At first glance the balmetti of Borgofranco seem like nothing more than a series of deserted farms lying at the foot of a mountain. However, they are much more than they first seem. They are at the centre of a traditional community in Canavese and owe their existence to a complex and unique natural phenomenon.


In the area around the balmetti a cool fresh breeze exits from splits in the ground at the foot of the nearby mountain. 

The breeze maintains humidity and temperatures at a steady 7/8 degrees all year round. The potential of this phenomenon has been known to the locals for centuries and the area contains some 213 unique structures that are still used to store regional produce like wine, cured meats and cheese.

But balmetti are more than just a place to store food. A source of local pride, they are part of the local community  and serve as a useful reminder of the ancient knowledge and artisanal craftsmanship that has been handed down across the generations. 


The balmetti are places where ancient traditions are still observed and life moves to the rhythm of the seasons. 


Fittingly, they come alive during the times of grape harvest and carnival and even have their own festival – that is held on the third Sunday of June.

The festival is known as andoma ai balmit (“let’s go to the balmetti”).  During the festival the stores of the balmetti are opened and guests are welcomed. The treasures within them are shared liberally, traditional music is performed, stories are told and friendships are made.

Most balmetti are located around a kilometre from the centre of Borgofranco d’Ivrea. 

Being private property, travellers are advised to visit them during the andoma festival or during the carnival and harvest. All the best appreciated with a traditional daisy-shaped canestrelli biscuit in hand and a cool glass of vin de balmet fresh from the mountain…

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Wine Heritage and Family Feuds

Roppolo castle

Wine Heritage and Family Feuds

Roppolo castle

Developed in the 13th century under the Bichieri family on the site of a pre-existing tower dating back to the 10th century, Roppolo Castle dominates over the beautiful Lake Viverone, close to the town of Ivrea.

The name of the castle’s original family, Bichieri – which recalls bicchieri, the Italian word for ‘glasses’, derives from the fact that one of the founders of the lineage was a cup-bearer at the court of Lothair II and supposedly saved the king from a poisoned cup of wine. 

Hence the three glasses of wine that can still be seen on the banner of the Bichieri featured on the main wall of the medieval side of the building.

Standing on a hill with a view over lake Viverone and the surrounding plains leading to the alpine passes of the Aosta Valley, the castle had a strategic importance in the battles for control of the area and was conquered and lost many times by influential families (notably the Visconti, the Savoy and the Valperga) before it was bought in 1951 by the Morasengo family, the present owners.


The castle underwent important renovations in the 19th century, which gave the complex its present country residence appearance by adding an extension to the south side. Later works, finished in 1981, redesigned the structure to make it suitable for today’s use as a tourist destination.

Memories of past rivalries are found in the popular belief that the ghost of Knight Bernardo di Mazzé, buried alive in the castle in 1459 by Ludovico Valperga, haunts the area


His remains were found in the 19th century and rumours that the castle was haunted were taken so seriously that a commission was sent to the castle at the beginning of the 20th century to investigate the screams of anguish of the knight (probably caused by the wind) that seemed to come from the building. No clear explanation was ever given.


Today the castle houses the regional wine cellars, opened in 1981 and part of the network of Piedmont’s wine cellars. 

They display and sell a wide collection of local wines including those produced by the castle’s own vineyards, the Torrecupa, a red wine produced from the Nebbiolo grape and the Bichieri, a rosé made from the Dolcetto grape. Through a visit to the cellars you can also access the 19th century rooms of the castle, or enjoy the different wine and liqueur tastings organised by the enoteca. Check the castle's official website for opening hours.

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The People's Entrepreneur

Adriano Olivetti

The People's Entrepreneur

Adriano Olivetti

Born in Ivrea on April 11, 1901, Adriano Olivetti was a true Renaissance man: an engineer, a writer, a politician, an industrialist, and an entrepreneur. 

Although Olivetti is known worldwide as the famous Italian manufacturer of typewriters, calculators, and computers, his story involves much more.


Educated by his mother at home where his father felt his children would receive a better education, the sober and disciplined attitudes of his parents were greatly reflected in his upbringing: Olivetti’s father emphasized the equality between manual and intellectual workers to his son. 

This discipline and sobriety, however, would spark Olivetti’s “rebellion” when he chose to study a variety of subjects and did not limit himself to mechanical engineering as his father desired.


With a degree in chemical engineering from the Polytechnic University of Turin, Olivetti joined his father’s company which manufactured electric measurement devices and later on, typewriters

A few years later when Olivetti was labelled “undesirable” by Mussolini’s regime, he was sent to the United States to study the roots of American Industrial power. It was this visit to the States that convinced Adriano Olivetti that productivity and organization went hand in hand. 


Upon his return home, and with his father’s permission, Olivetti organized his father’s company into a series of departments and divisions.

This resulted in a doubling of production per man-hour and, for the first time, Olivetti sold half the typewriters used in Italy.

Olivetti shared the profits from these productivity gains with his workers by increasing salaries, fringe benefits, and services.

When you visit Ivrea and the surrounding areas, you will find that it wasn’t Olivetti’s political adventures or misadventures, if you will, that the people remember. What they recall quite fondly and nostalgically is Adriano Olivetti, the man. The man whose organizational methods as well as the respect and gratitude he showed to his workers created something never before seen in Italy.

Olivetti created the new Italian factory, unique in the world at that time, and the idea of the community movement.

He was convinced that it was possible to create a balance between profit and social solidarity. His idea was that a collective happiness within the community generated efficiency. His workers lived in conditions that were far superior to other Italian factory workers: they received higher salaries, the factory offered day care services, and there was access to a library and other culturally-rich activities which put knowledge and skills within everyone’s reach.

The company also welcomed artists, designers, writers, and poets because Olivetti believed that a factory needed not only technicians, but individuals who could enrich the factory with creativity and sensitivity as well.

Olivetti encountered an untimely death, suffering from a cerebral haemorrhage during a journey by train on February 27, 1960.

A man who believed whole-heartedly in the idea of community and that happy workers are better workers, it seems almost impossible to do justice to Olivetti’s legend with mere words. If you are interested in learning more about him, there is the Associazione Archivio Storico Olivetti


In the meantime, however, ask almost anyone in Ivrea, “Who was Adriano Olivetti?” and you will surely encounter nothing but smiles. Smiles that tacitly let you know, that he was a man of the people.


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The Times They Are a Changin'

Olivetti Museum

The Times They Are a Changin'

Olivetti Museum

Over the last century the world has changed in ways that nobody born in 1900 would have ever thought possible. 


The Museo Technologicamente celebrates the hand played by Italian manufacturer Olivetti in the rapid technological advances of the 21st century. 

The Olivetti company has been a pioneer both in terms of new technology and design, working across a number of fields. Credited with the creation of the first desktop computer, the programma 101, which was first marketed in 1966, Olivetti developed a great number of iconic and innovative typewriters and calculators.

The museum is divided into different sections based around different technologies that trace the history of the company from 1908 -1985. 

The exhibition covers the evolution of Olivetti across time periods and technologies: from typewriters, through mechanical and electronic calculators, to personal desktop and laptop computers. 


The museum seeks to promote the cultural and historical significance of the Olivetti corporation both in Italy and worldwide and hopes to impart in its young visitors the pioneering spirit of Olivetti designers. To this end the Museum runs many laboratories and events hands on events for schoolchildren.

In today’s throwaway world the pace of change is immense. While the wonderful machines on display may be long gone from our desks and offices, they should not be consigned to cultural landfill. These are machines which defined generations and each one has a story to tell. Not only of the zeitgeist to which it belongs, but also the story of the brilliant men and women who developed it.


Visitors who can recall the sounds of a floppy disk being ejected, typewriter keys being beaten, or a modem dialling up will be in for something of a nostalgia trip. 


Younger visitors will be inspired by the ingenuity behind each machine and will come away with a better understanding of today’s technology. For information on opening days and tickets, visit the museum’s official website.


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A Humble Monk's Retreat

San Bernardino's church

A Humble Monk's Retreat

San Bernardino's church

An attraction of notable artistic interest, the fifteenth-century church of St. Bernardino in Ivrea, situated in the Olivetti industrial area, was built between 1455 and 1457. 

Famous thanks to its great inside partition decorated with the Histories of the Life and Passion of Christ by famous painter Giovanni Martino Spanzotti, this religious building is a not-to-miss site when in the area.

The church derives its name from St. Bernardino, who supposedly crossed Ivrea during his long preaching journeys throughout Italy.


In the past, the church became very popular and this lead to the religious authorities starting the construction of a Franciscan convent and, later on, carrying out substantial enlargements, adding a nave for public access and two side chapels. 

Protected by Amedeo IX of Savoy until his death in 1472 and later by his wife, the monastery flourished until rivalries between different factions of the Franciscan order led to its decline during the 16th century. 


In the following centuries the church and convent suffered further decay because of military occupation, which lasted until Napoleon abolished ecclesiastical ownership altogether and the church, by then desecrated, was turned into a warehouse.

Both church and convent constitute a typical example of Gothic architecture.

In 1910 Industrialist Camillo Olivetti purchased the complex, standing in the immediate proximity of his factory, and turned it into his residence. During the late 1950s he then transformed the church into a social and recreational facility for the company’s employees, also contributing to the restoration of the Spanzotti frescoes and to the maintenance of the complex.


The Spanzotti wall, painted between 1480 and 1490, is one of the oldest surviving frescoed dividing walls typical of Franciscan churches. The history of the Life and Passion of Christ is narrated in twenty-one scenes, twenty smaller paintings arranged around a larger dramatic Crucifixion, and are an important example of Piedmonts’ Renaissance art and of Franciscan devotional images. 

Other important paintings also adorn the church, some of which are attributed to Nicolas Robert, while others are of uncertain origin.

The church, still part the Olivetti Estate, can only be visited in certain months of the year. Private viewings and guided tours can be arranged through the Spille d’Oro organisation (the golden brooches, a group of former long-term Olivetti employees who work on a voluntary basis) by contacting their offices or their website.

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The World's Always Been a Stage

The Roman Amphitheatre
of Ivrea

The World's Always Been a Stage

The Roman Amphitheatre of Ivrea

Visitors arriving to the city of Ivrea will be stuck by its medieval appearance, but the city’s history stretches back much further. Ivrea was once known as Eporedia, a small Roman city sat at the foot of the Alps. Straddling the River Dora, the city was a strategic point both for defence and trade. 

While most traces of Ivrea’s Roman history have been lost to time and replaced by a patchwork of Medieval, Gothic and Romanesque architecture, some traces sill remain.

The first is a subtle linguistic one – inhabitants of Ivrea are still known as “Eporedesi” to Italians. The second trace is archaeological – the ruins of the ancient city’s Roman Amphitheatre, as well as other minor remains.


The Amphitheatre's ruins are located in an eastern suburb of the city – along an old road that connected the settlement of Eporedia with nearby Vercellae (today, Vercelli).

What remains of the large ovular structure and the central arena is situated in an archaeological park, where visitors can admire what time has generously spared from destruction.

At its widest point the arena is 68m, about the same width as a modern soccer pitch. The area could hold up to 10,000 spectators – to continue with soccer comparisons, the modern home of local soccer team A.S.D Calcio Ivrea holds a maximum capacity of 3,500.


The ruins date from the first century A.D and had lain forgotten for almost 200 years before being uncovered by chance in the 1950′s. 

Interestingly, within the ovular structure a series of corridors and compartments provide an insight into the workings of the theatre, showing the spaces where machines were housed and the corridors where actors and animals once came and went. The archaeological area also features the ruins of an earlier suburban villa that was demolished. The site is free to the public and can be accessed all year round. However, the inner part of the amphitheatre can only be visited on special occasions – or through arrangement with the city council.


If you're on a stroll through Ivrea, try and spot this Roman bridge!

In spite of the vast areas covered by the Roman Empire there are only around 230 remains of amphitheatres across Europe and North Africa and that of Ivrea is a notable and fascinating example. It reminds us of what lies below the ground beneath our feet and helps us hear the distant voices of the ancient Eporedesi that speak to us across the centuries.

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A Story of Rock and Ice

The Morainic Amphitheatre
of Ivrea

A Story of Rock and Ice

The Morainic Amphitheatre of Ivrea

Walking through the tranquil hills that surround Ivrea it is difficult to imagine the violent forges that moulded the landscape into what it is today. 

The area, known as the morainic amphitheatre of Ivrea, is the most significant glacial amphitheatre in Europe.


In the area around Ivrea, the huge Balteo glacier once fanned out 25 km across the Po basin at the foot of the Alps. Between one million and 730,000 years ago the immense forces of the glacier reshaped the land. As temperatures rose and the glacier receeded, deposits that had been pushed to the edge of the spur were left behind. 

Today these deposits make up a horseshoe of hills around the city of Ivrea, which today lies in the middle of the glacial plain.

This geological history makes the physical characteristics of the area unique.


It is a collage of different landscapes; rolling hills give way to lakes carved out by the glacier, bogs and forest. Erroneous boulders left behind by the retreating glacier litter the landscape. 

The region is teaming with fascinating flora and fauna: crayfish, bittern and wild flax all populate the area. 

It’s the perfect place to indulge in some cycling, horse riding or trekking. A historical pilgrimage route that runs from Rome to Canterbury also runs through the area: known as the Via Francigena, the route was first walked by blister-fan Sigerc the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury from 989 -984.

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The Battle of the Oranges

The Carnival of Ivrea

The Battle of the Oranges

The Carnival of Ivrea

Ivrea’s historic carnevale (carnival) is known to its fans with a specific name: the Battle of the Oranges. 

This unique event is a yearly commemoration of what is said to have been the town’s battle and resistance against a tyrant. 

The tyrant was reported to have attempted to rape a young peasant woman, known as the miller’s daughter or la mugnaia, on the night of her wedding by claiming that it was his noble right. Fortunately, the tyrant’s deed was thwarted when the people of Ivrea stormed and burned the palace, right after his would-be victim fought back and beheaded her attacker.

Since then, the citizens of Ivrea have commemorated their liberation with the Battle of the Oranges, where teams of Aranceri (‘orangers’) on foot throw oranges which represent ancient weapons and stones against Aranceri riding in carts representing the tyrant’s ranks.


Today, the famous Battle of the Oranges involves thousands of people from the town, divided into nine combat teams, who throw oranges at each other, often with considerable violence, during the traditional carnival days: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. 

The carnival takes place in February and ends on the night of Shrove Tuesday with a solemn funeral.

As tradition dictates, at the end of the silent march that closes the carnival the “General” says goodbye to everyone with the classical phrase in dialect "arvedse a giobia a ‘n bot", which translates to “we’ll see each other on Thursday at one”, referring to the Thursday which will mark the start of next year’s celebration.


A curiosity: the Asso di Picche or the ace of spades, founded in 1947, is the oldest of the nine pedestrian teams of orange throwers that participate in the historic battle.

Every year, a young woman is chosen to represent Violetta, la mugnaia. The young woman chosen for this duty has the honour to represent the strength, not only of one young woman, but certainly as the symbol of Ivrea’s resistance to all tyrants.

Spectators and visitors to Ivrea may ask, “Why oranges?” especially since oranges are not a typical product grown in Northern Italy and the oranges, sometimes as many as 265,000 kilograms, must be imported for the celebration.

In fact, oranges were not the original weapon of choice: during the first carnevali, beans were thrown and later on, apples. Eventually, it would be oranges that came to represent the stones thrown at the king’s castle.


For anyone considering a visit to Ivrea to experience the festivities and the Battle of the Oranges, there are some things to be aware of since the battle can be overwhelming for the unprepared. First, there are a handful of routes that are allowed for spectators: one of them is to hide behind the nets that are draped around the buildings. It is one of the safest choices and is highly recommended for anyone planning to attend with young children. If you are an adventure seeker, you can stay on the battlefield for the entire battle.


Obviously, one should consider just how orange-soaked they want to become and a change of clothes is highly recommended. All spectators are encouraged to buy the traditional red cap, the Berretto Frigio, which identifies you as a revolutionary and may, in theory, protect you from having oranges thrown directly at you. Spectators wearing the caps are not allowed to throw any oranges, although, due to the liveliness of the festivities, spectators can usually get away with throwing an orange or two.

Some say that spectators need to stay clear of the armoured “palace guards”, but those with experience will tell you that it is really the aranceri who are trying to hit the guards that you should be wary of!


The Carnival of Ivrea and the rousing Battle of the Oranges are more than a simple re-enactment of history. The event is an, albeit messy, celebration of tradition and historic pride of a city and its citizens.

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An Archeological Treasure Dipped in the Water

Lake Viverone

An Archeological Treasure Dipped in the Water

Lake Viverone

Lake Viverone, the third largest lake in the Piedmont Region, lies in the eastern hills of Ivrea. A small part of the lake is located in the town of Azeglio while the remainder lies in Biella under the municipality of Viverone.


An important resource for tourism, the lake offers a wide variety of activities including bird watching, thanks to its immense variety of avifauna. In 2005 it was recognized as a site of community interest and is now protected under Italian and European laws. 

Lake Viverone, however, is also home to something even more impressive: it is part of the site of the Prehistoric Pile Dwellings of the Alpine Arc and is another Italian excellence listed on the UNESCO World heritage site.

The area contains the lower portions of more than 5,000 poles, which hold the structure of a large circular village together. This village represents an amazing example of the dwellings during the Bronze Age. The huts, fences, and paths of the village were all made of wood and thankfully, the remains permitted the precise reconstruction of the buildings. 


It is important to note that the stilt dwellings were not built on the water, but along the banks of the lake. The various dwellings, which included animal pens, were raised in order to protect them from humidity and possible floods.

During the archaeological research, a considerable number of impressive Bronze Age artefacts were found: swords, hatchets, brooches, and other ornamental treasures. 

These rare pieces offer the possibility to retrace the Bronze Age period between 1650 and 1350 B.C. While the artefacts were discovered at the site, if you are interested in seeing them, they are currently located in the Museo di Antichità of Turin and the Museo del Territorio Biellese.

If you are interested in history and archaeology and looking for something beyond the ordinary offerings in most guidebooks, look no further. Lake Viverone and the Prehistoric Pile Dwellings are not only two more examples of Italy’s endless number of architectural and cultural treasures, but they are also notable examples of the immense richness and variety of Italy’s archaeological wealth.

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Ecce Duomo

The Duomo of Ivrea

Ecce Duomo

The Duomo of Ivrea

Churches are like snowflakes. At first they may seem identical but closer inspection reveals structures that are more beautiful, unique and complex than previously thought.


Ivrea’s cathedral is believed to have been built over a Roman acropolis that occupied the highest point of the Roman city of Ivrea. 

Archaeological evidence suggests that the cathedral was built on the sight of a previous Roman temple, which was converted to a catholic church in the late 4th century.

The building did not undergo any serious redevelopment until archbishop Warmondo took up his post.

Warmondo was a zealous super archbishop who, between 969 and 1005, took time out from warring with king Arduino to oversee the construction of the Romanesque apse and two bell towers. 


Further architectural development did not take place until the 13th century after an earthquake devastated much of the Po basin. More work was done in the medieval and Baroque periods, but this was mostly decorative.

Once visitors enter the cathedral’s neoclassical facade, they are presented with a strikingly late baroque interior.

With its patterned marble surfaces, grandeur and contrasts between light and dark, the inside of the cathedral is breath-taking. In addition to this, medieval frescos pepper the walls of the cathedral and crypt and show images of Cristo pantocrator as well as unsettling, demonic figures.


The crypt is by far the oldest part of the structure dating back some two millennia.

It holds an intact example of a Roman marble sarcophagus belonging to Quaestor Gaius Valerius Atecius from the second century AD.

All this makes Ivrea’s cathedral and crypt a wonderful mishmash of architectural styles that kaleidoscopically reflect elements of Ivrea’s inhabitants over the last 2000 years.

The cathedral and crypt are located in the heart of the city’s old town; they are free to enter but a small offer can be made.



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When Strategy
is Paramount

Montalto Dora Castle

When Strategy is Paramount

Montalto Dora Castle

The Castle of Montalto Dora rises 405 metres high in a dominant position over the Parco dei Cinque Laghi (The Five Lakes Natural Park), on the contours of Ivrea's Serra Moraine. The fortress dates back to Roman times and probably acted as a sentinel lookout.


The very first records of the place are found in a document from 1141, where the castrum monsalti is mentioned. At the time, it belonged to the jurisdiction of the bishop of Ivrea.

This fortress is set in an extremely strategic military position on Monte Crovero, which was very important for the guarding of the roads leading to and from Valle d’Aosta.


Consequently, in 1313, it came into the hands of the Savoy family, who found it particularly useful in their expansionist stratagem. In the same period, a series of architectural interventions took place. These are still visible in the current structure of the Castle: the dungeon was built and the walls were reinforced. In 1403, the Castle was granted to the De Jordano family from Bard who carried on the expansion of the fortress, which included the erection of the so-called Chiaverana tower, the chapel and the bell tower. 


Through the course of time, the Castle suffered numerous attacks and assaults, the most disastrous of which was in 1641, when Ivrea was under siege by the French Marquis d’Harcourt, and its interior was completely demolished.

Until the 1800s, the Castle was owned by the Vallesa family, but then passed to count Severino dei Baroni di Casana when the Vallesa family died out. 


The count began a restoration campaign in order to recuperate the architectural structure of the Castle, which caught the eye of some scholars, in particular engineer Carlo Nigra and architect Alfredo D’Andrade, the latter famous for the creation of the Medieval Castle at the Valentino park in Turin.


What we see before us today is an irregular foursquare plan with a double ring of ramparts, a large tower dominating the inside of the Castle, the chapel, several rooms open to visitors and the guard walkway, from which one can enjoy a breath-taking view of the surroundings. 


The small chapel is particularly interesting, it is dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie and the southern façade contains frescoes of Saint Christopher and the Madonna del latte con bambino (the Lady of the milk with her baby).

Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travellers, which could mean that this fortress was not only strategic for military purposes, but also for pilgrimages, seeing that it lies on via Francigena, on the path from Canterbury to Rome.

Whatever the reason for its past importance, the Castle of Montalto stands today as a beautiful testimony of days gone by, awaiting visitors with its magical atmosphere and picturesque architecture.



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A Sweet Secret

'Torta 900' Cake

A Sweet Secret

'Torta 900' Cake

The Torta ‘900 is more than just a simple cream-filled sponge cake. Just ask the locals of Ivrea and they will tell you that it’s a must-try for any visitor.

The recipe was created at the end of the XIX century, hence its name, by master pastry chef Ottavio Bertinotti. 


Soon after realising how special his recipe was, he decided to take out a patent to protect his creation. In fact, Bertinotti was so worried that someone might try to steal his recipe that he was said to have sent everyone out of the kitchen while he prepared the cream filling!

The Torta ‘900 consists of two layers of moist, chocolate sponge cake filled with a delectable cream filling made of butter, chocolate, cream and a secret ingredient. Seventy-two years after its creation, the recipe and its patent were purchased by Umberto Balla, who would continue to maintain the patent and make the Torta ‘900 not only the symbol of his pastry shop, but a symbol of Ivrea as well.

Today, the responsibility of guarding the cake’s recipe has been passed down to Umberto Balla’s son, Stefano: he is the only person who knows the mystery ingredient which renders this recipe so inimitable.


If you’re in Ivrea and would like to try some, know that the size of the cake can vary in diameter at the customer’s request… a dangerous option to have in a pastry shop! According to strict rules, the cream filling is added only when a cake has been ordered, ensuring that every torta ‘900 is of the highest quality.

The enduring popularity of this cake is most certainly thanks to the high standards used in its production as well as its legions of loyal fans. 


The Balla family have also taken legal measures in order to protect the Torta ‘900 from low-quality imitations.

These safeguards assure that the name Torta ‘900 and its status as an Italian excellence are upheld continuously.


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The Castle of the Red Towers

Ivrea castle

The Castle of the Red Towers

Ivrea castle

Also known as the castle of the red towers, construction of the Castle of Ivrea began in 1358 under the orders of Amedeo VI of Savoy. The project was entrusted to architect Ambrose Cognon, and was completed between 1393 and 1395 with as many as 1000 labourers working on certain days.

While this might seem rather unremarkable by today’s standards, consider that, in those years, Ivrea had about 3500 citizens. Amedeo VI wanted the castle positioned alongside the main offices of religious and political power and in order to make room for the castle, it was necessary to demolish not only several houses, but the city’s northern walls as well.



Built primarily with a defensive function, the castle is located in what was at that time, a strategic position from which one could see the road leading to Valle d'Aosta.

In the second half of the 15th century, the castle served as one of the refined residences of the House of Savoy. The building played an important role in the development of culture and the arts, which were promoted, most notably, by the Duchess Yolanda of Valois. Records from 1522 mention the preparations of a baptism and described the decorations, furnishings, dances, and parties, which brought the castle’s court to life. 


Then, with the return of territorial struggles between the French and the Spanish in and around the area of Ivrea, the castle would resume its principal function as a military garrison.

In 1676 lightning struck the ammunition depot located in the castle’s northwest tower. The subsequent explosion caused numerous deaths and the collapse of the tower, which was never rebuilt. The remaining portion of the vertical structure was covered with slate roof tiles.

From the beginning of the 1700s and up until 1970, the castle was used as a prison. 

This had meant significant restructuring: for example, the original three-storey structure was transformed into four in order to increase the number of rooms and therefore the number of prisoners which could be kept inside the castle’s walls. After 1970 the castle remained abandoned for 9 years, but thankfully, it then became property of the State and, after the additional rooms that had been added to the courtyard were removed, the castle was opened to the public.

If you are interested in visiting the castle, it is good to note that while it is open to visitors, the visiting hours are very specific, so it is best to plan ahead in order to avoid disappointment.


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From Ruins to Riches

Pavone Castle

From Ruins to Riches

Pavone Castle

A few kilometres from Ivrea in the village of Pavone Canavese, visible from the Torino-Aosta motorway, stands the Castle of Pavone. 

Overlooking the village and the underlying plains, this Castle has very old roots; its fortified walls can, in fact, be traced as far back as the 9th century.

The remaining parts of the construction, instead, were probably built between the 12th and the 14th centuries.


At the start of the 13th century, the Castle passed to the Romano family and, a few years later, the new bishop of Ivrea, Oberto, purchased it. The first important restoration of the buildings took place in the 14th century, but during the following century, the Castle was more or less abandoned  to its own destiny until bishop Bonifacio Ferrero gave way to new restoration projects, involving the construction of a grand staircase, the enlargement of the residential apartments and the salvage of the tower.

The raging wars between Francis I of France and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, inflicted new destruction and damages to the Castle and finally Napoleon’s Campaign in Italy laid it in ruins. 

In 1885, however, the architect Alfredo D’Andrade bought the place and began an impressive project of redesign, based on the study of castles from the Canavese and Aosta. The ramparts were incorporated into the main body of the Castle, which in this way took on the resemblance of a ship, while the ceilings of another abandoned castle, the nearby Castle of Strambino, were extracted and placed here instead.


The stables and the elevation of the west wing were inspired by 16th century architecture and D’Andrade used similar cotto tiles as the ones found in the Castles of Albiano and Ozegna, having had them decorated in the same manner as the Castle of Strambino.

The architect also had a bronze statue of a peacock (pavone) erected in the direction of Ivrea, because he was convinced that the village was named after it!

In 1981, the Castle of Pavone was declared a national monument and it is now a 4-star hotel with an excellent restaurant. For further information, refer to the castle's official website.


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Ivrea's Art Museum

Museo Garda

Housed in the old Monastery of Santa Chiara and recently renovated, the museum displays archaeological finds and important works of art. 

All About Olivetti

Archivio Storico Olivetti

An archive dedicated to the life and correspondence of Adriano Olivetti, local entrepreneur and industrial visionary.

Ivrea's Art Museum

Museo Garda

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