Borgomanero lies on the plain between the hills of the River Sesia and the River Ticino; it is the second largest town in the province of Novara, and an important cultural and commercial centre.
It was founded as far back as 1194 when the rulers of Novara decided to build a new fortified burgh for strategic reasons exactly half-way between the Sesia and the Ticino.
The historical-artistic attractions of the town include Piazza Alpini d’Italia, from where Via San Giovanni leads to the district of San Rocco in the heart of the old town. Here, at the crossroads with the historic Via Sanado, you can see a fresco of the Assumption of the Virgin, the emblem of the district. Continue to Corso Roma, the street where on Fridays you can see the first stalls of the market which has been held here for more than 500 years. Via Don Minzoni takes you to the Oratory of San Leonardo, over a thousand years old, containing frescoes from the 13th century.
A square full of cultural interest is Piazza Martiri, with its statue of the Madonna Immacolata, erected in 1721. The Collegiate Church of San Bartolomeo on the square was built in the 12th century; it was re-designed in the 19th century by the architect Ercole Marietti and ornamented with fine terracotta work. Inside is a valuable triptych (1566) by Varolti and Rapa, frescoes and paintings by il Morazzone (17th century), and a superb wooden Baroque altar by Antonio Pini.
Also well worth a visit is Palazzo d’Este, the 15th century residence of the aristocratic Trivulzio family, the Medieval Bridge, commonly called the “Torrione Bridge”, the Vergano Castle, dating from the 14th century, in a commanding position in the hamlet of Vergano, and the Oratory of San Nicola alla Baraggiola (10th century), a plain proto-Romanesque building flanked by a massive stone bell tower.
The wealth of shops and cafés in the centre of the town helps to make a stroll along the main street a thoroughly pleasant experience.