Grande Traversata delle Alpi (GTA) 2022 – Refugio Madonna della Neve to Oropa

The third stage on the GTA in 2022 was from Refugio Madonna della Neve to Oropa. Oropa is a special holy place in the Alps and has a basilica major, so one of the largest churches. The way from the Refugio is quite long, since the actual stage from the previous day would actually end later. However, the overnight stay at the Refugio Madonna della Neve in summer is simply unique and definitely recommended. We therefore reached Oropa again only in the evening and had to go again this time a small detour, because the one bridge is still closed.

Oropa is a small town located in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, nestled in the heart of the Alps. It is home to the Sanctuary of Oropa, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Italy, attracting thousands of visitors every year.

The Sanctuary of Oropa has a long and rich history. It was founded in the 4th century by Saint Eusebius, who dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. Over the centuries, the sanctuary has been rebuilt and expanded several times, and today it is a vast complex of buildings, courtyards, and gardens, with a beautiful basilica at its center.

Oropa is located about 20 kilometers north of Biella, a historic city in Piedmont. The town is situated at an elevation of 1,159 meters above sea level, surrounded by the beautiful alpine landscape of the Biellese Prealps.

The Sanctuary of Oropa is the main attraction in the town, and it is a must-visit destination for those interested in history, art, and spirituality. The sanctuary is built in the baroque style, with beautiful frescoes and sculptures adorning its walls and ceilings. The highlight of the complex is the Chapel of the Black Madonna, which houses a revered statue of the Virgin Mary that is said to have miraculous healing powers.

Apart from the Sanctuary, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in Oropa. The surrounding mountains offer excellent opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and skiing in the winter. The nearby Biella Alps Natural Park is a beautiful area to explore, with its stunning alpine landscapes, waterfalls, and wildlife.

Oropa is also known for its excellent cuisine, with a range of traditional dishes that reflect the region’s rich culinary heritage. Some of the local specialties include polenta, risotto, and meat dishes such as brasato al Barolo (beef braised in Barolo wine).

Oropa is a charming and historic town in the heart of the Italian Alps, with a rich cultural and spiritual heritage. The Sanctuary of Oropa is a must-visit destination for those interested in history and art, and the surrounding mountains offer excellent opportunities for outdoor activities. With its beautiful landscapes, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality, Oropa is a destination that should not be missed when visiting northern Italy.