Novara, the second most important city in Piedmont, is located on the border between Piedmont and Lombardy and it constitutes a very popular crossroads for all those who move from Milan to Turin, but also from Genoa and nearby Switzerland. Probably founded in 90 BC, Novara and the surrounding area are rich in historical testimonies and points of interest: the oldest part of the city is in fact located on a small hill and contains most of the most beautiful monuments and streets of Novara (mostly dating back to the old medieval system).
Here are the unmissable things to do / see in Novara during a weekend, including the best places to eat and spend the after dinner: given the perfect location of the town, we recommend that you explore it on a trip out of town or use it as a base and then explore the surroundings.
- 10 things to see in Novara in a weekend
- What to see in Novara in one day: recommended itinerary
- Where to eat in Novara: the best restaurants
- What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Novara
- Plan your stay in Novara: info and useful tips
- User questions and comments
10 things to see in Novara in a weekend
1 - Basilica of San Gaudenzio
Perhaps the most important place of worship in the city, the Basilica of San Gaudenzio is one of the symbolic monuments of the city, famous for its dome (more than 120 meters high!). In addition to the dome, the architectural complex also consists of the church and the nearby bell tower, both dating back to different historical periods. The Basilica, in fact, built towards the end of 1200, has a Latin cross plan, with a single nave, to which are added six side chapels (three on each side). In the center of the nave, suspended from the ceiling, a beautiful wrought iron chandelier stands out, in memory of the historic meeting between Gaudenzio, then bishop of Novara, and Ambrogio, bishop of Milan. The bell tower, on the other hand, was built in the mid-1700s, in place of an already existing bell tower: due to the vibrations produced by the sound of the bells, the structure of the basilica risked being irreparably damaged, for this reason it was decided to build a real bell tower, separate from the main structure.
- is located near the historic center, about 7 minutes on foot from the city council (you have to go along via Fratelli Rossetti and then via San Gaudenzio) and less than 10 minutes from the train station - Get directions
- every day, from 8:00 to 12:00 and from 14:30 to 19:00
2 - Duomo and Piazza Duomo
Another respectable religious building in the city of Novara is the Duomo or Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. It is located in the heart of the city and the historic center, overlooking the Republic Square (also called Piazza Duomo), together with other religious buildings connected to it. Characterized by a beautiful colonnade on the side facing the square, it has three naves divided between them by yellow-ocher stucco columns. The central nave is also covered with barrel vaults which give the whole room a certain majesty.
Inside, the Cathedral contains some artistic treasures of great importance, including paintings by Gaudenzio Ferrari, Bernardino Lanino and Callisto Piazza, but also a bust depicting Saint Bernard of Menton and several pipe organs dating back to the th century.
And if you want to relax during your visit, there is nothing better than stopping right in Piazza Duomo, sipping a coffee in one of the bars in front of the square and observing the cheerful bustle of the center.
- easily reachable on foot from anywhere in the city. 2 minutes from the town, 12 from the station along via Cavour - Get directions
- every day, from 7:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00
3 - Arengo del Broletto
It is a architectural complex of medieval origin, consisting of four buildings made with different artistic styles and arranged in a quadrilateral. At the center of this quadrilateral, a small courtyard is created, called Arengo, in which it is possible to take refuge from the chaos of the city: despite being a few steps from the Duomo area and the bustle of the center, this is one of the most calm and relaxing places in all of Novara, in addition to being a place characterized by great charm, it seems to have remained so much centuries ago. Once the seat of civic life (on the north side is the Palazzo del Comune), today, temporary exhibitions are organized inside the Arengo and, on summer evenings, the outdoor cinema is held.
In one of the buildings that form the quadrilateral, on the other hand, the Gallery of Modern Art, with over 800 Italian paintings of the th-th century.
- it is located just 2 minutes walk from the Municipality (following via Fratelli Rosselli) and about 12 minutes from the Station (it is necessary to follow the signs for the historic center and then take via Fratelli Rosselli) - Get directions
- always accessible (the Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:00 to 19:00)
- Free (access to the Gallery costs € 5,00 per person)
4 - Visconti Castle
The Visconti Castle is the most important military building in the area surrounding Novara. Probably dating back to 1200, when the then power of the city had a tower built with an enclosure for the political control of Novara.
The Visconti Castle stands on ancient Roman walls and on the moat of the old city walls. Modified several times over time and first used as a barracks and later as a prison in the Napoleonic period, today of the original structure only the so-called Rocchetta with the Visconti battlements and the remains of the main door remains intact. Despite this, it is one of the most interesting monuments to visit during a stay in Novara, as well as constituting a historical legacy of great value.
- it is located in the heart of the historic center, with one side overlooking Piazza Martiri and the other three surrounded by the city public gardens. From the station it is just over a quarter of an hour, while from the city it can be reached in less than 7 minutes - Get directions
- it cannot be visited inside, with the exception of organized exhibitions and / or events. To find out more, we invite you to consult the official website of the Novara Castle
5 - Baptistery
Il Novara Baptistery is nothing less than the oldest building left intact in the city, as well as being considered among the most ancient early Christian architecture in Piedmont. Located in front of the Duomo, on the opposite side of the Antonellian quadriportico, the Baptistery was built around the th century, on a site already occupied previously (probably in Roman times). The building has an octagonal plan surrounded by semi-circular apses, and a dome added later in the th century, when it was decided to raise the Baptistery and bring it to a height similar to that of the nearby Cathedral. Inside of, the pictorial cycle depicting some of the salient moments of the Passion of Jesus is very beautiful.
- on foot, it is located in Piazza Duomo - Get directions
- every day, from 7:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00
6 - Museums of the rectory of the Duomo
Among the most fascinating museums to visit during a stay in Novara, in the first place we place the Museums of the rectory of the Duomo, divided into two collections: the Lapidary Museum and the Museum of the treasure of the Cathedral.
The first, named after Carlo Francesco Frasconi, collects works dating from the 2009nd century BC to the 11rd century, such as altars, epigraphs, etc .; the second, on the other hand, inaugurated in June , was built after completing the Lapidary Museum. Today the museum, which is located in the east wing of the rectory of the Cathedral, is arranged on two levels and divided into about rooms which exhibit works, furnishings, archaeological finds and sculptures found in all the churches of the diocesan territory. If you are interested in discovering a slightly particular aspect of Novara and its history, you cannot miss this museum!
- just follow the signs for the Duomo - Get directions
- Saturday and Sunday, from 15:00 to 18:00 (winter time) and from 16:00 to 19:00 (summer time).
7 - Abbey of San Nazzaro della Costa
The Abbey of San Nazzaro della Costa is a religious complex of great beauty consisting of the church of the same name and the nearby convent, built on the top of the Vittoria hill, a short distance from the city cemetery. Probably dating back to the th century, the complex was inhabited first by the Poor Clares and then by the observant Friars Minor of San Francesco: this was precisely the period of greatest splendor of the convent. Thanks to the donations of the noble families of Novara, moreover, the Abbey underwent several changes over time compared to its original structure (such as the addition of the presbytery and the choir), as well as the addition of numerous decorations (the scene of the 'Annunciation, in the second chapel on the right).
- the Abbey and its convent are located outside the city walls, but still easily reachable on foot: from the Municipality about 20 minutes along via Ettore Perrone; from the station about 23 minutes along via San Francesco d'Assisi - Get directions
- every day, from 7:00 to 19:00
8 - Coccia Theater
The Coccia Theater is the most important opera house in Novara, as well as one of the main historical theaters of the Piedmont region. Built on the remains of the ancient Teatro Nuovo (demolished because it was considered inadequate due to the request of the time), the Coccia Theater was named in honor of Carlo Coccia (who died in 1873), chapel master of the Cathedral Chapter for more than 30 consecutive years.
Outside, the theater has a perimeter surrounded by a porch in pink Baveno granite, with Doric columns and a single floor with large windows; inside, on the other hand, what immediately strikes visitors is the size of the horseshoe-shaped hall, with three tiers of boxes from the gallery and the first gallery, richly decorated in Renaissance style.
- the theater is located along via Fratelli Rosselli, delimiting piazza dei Martiri to the west and piazza Puccini to the east. From the station it takes about 18 minutes following via Baluardo Quintino Sella; from the Municipality instead it takes less than 2 minutes. Get directions
- always accessible (it is possible to visit the theater only externally, unless you are attending a performance)
9 - Pyramid of Novara
On the outskirts of Novara, the Bicocca area extends, known for having been the stage of a famous battle between Piedmontese and Austrians that took place in 1849: the battle ended with the abdication of King Carlo Alberto in favor of Vittorio Emanuele II, an event which sanctioned a real turning point in the Italian Risorgimento. To remember that particular historical episode, it was inaugurated some thirty years later on Monument of the Ossuary Pyramid (also known as the Novara Pyramid): built by the architect Broggi of Milan, the Pyramid is in hard stone from Sarnico and is about 16 meters high. On the front door, a bronze eagle holds two laurel wreaths in its talons, while a marble table commemorates all the men who fell on the battlefield.
- by car following via XXIII Marzo, in about ten minutes - Get directions
- always accessible
10 - Novara rice fields
Rice is one of the most important elements of Novara cuisine: this is because in the surroundings of Novara (and Vercelli, the two provinces hold the 50% of the Italian rice production!) you can easily come across expanses of rice fields that are kilometers and kilometers long. In particular, the best time to visit them is between the months of April and May, when the rice fields are flooded and beautiful plays of reflections are created with the sky. And if you don't want to go exploring alone, but also if you love nature and do some outdoor activities, you can always decide to participate in one of the many organized cycling itineraries.
- by car. One of the most popular areas for tourists is Casalbeltrame, about twenty minutes from Novara - Get directions)
- always accessible
What to see in Novara in one day: recommended itinerary
Below we have prepared a itinerary to discover Novara in one day, condensing the main city attractions. Most of the itinerary can be done on foot, since the historic center of Novara is quite concentrated and relatively close to the train station. For this reason, we recommend it both to those arriving in the city by public transport, and to those who use their own means of transport to park in one of the car parks that we have indicated in the last paragraph.
Morning: our itinerary starts from the train station. Breakfast at the AGO Cafe (Get directions), a modern and welcoming place specializing in breakfasts and aperitifs. Once refreshed, we set off in the direction of the famous Basilica of San Gaudenzio (easily identifiable in the city fabric due to the large dome). Once you have visited the monument-symbol of the city, we recommend that you go directly to the nucleus of the historic center, or Piazza della Repubblica (or Piazza Duomo). Here, there are some of the main buildings of Novara: the Duomo in primis, but also the Baptistery located opposite and the nearby Coccia Theater. Not far away, there is also the beautiful Broletto complex, which has survived over the centuries. Take the morning to fully explore all these architectural masterpieces, savoring the atmosphere of the past that you breathe inside.
Afternoon: not far from the museums, there is an excellent restaurant where you can rest and taste local dishes: the Piccarello Vineria & not only (Get directions). After lunch, you can decide to visit the Museums of the Canonica del Duomo, where a priceless treasure is kept. If the day is beautiful, however, it is time to leave Novara momentarily to discover the beautiful Novara rice fields: the ones we recommend are those around Casalbeltrame, where you can also buy packages of noble rice to take home as a souvenir of Sunday trip.
Sera: To end the day in the best possible way, we recommend that you return to the city, especially around the Visconti Castle to admire it illuminated in all its splendor. From here, finally, move to the Zeroquarantanove restaurant (Get directions), to enjoy an aperitif worthy of its name.
One day itinerary at a glance
- Breakfast at Ago Cafe - Get directions
- Basilica of San Gaudenzio: every day, from 8:00 to 12:00 and from 14:30 to 19:00 - ticket price: free
- Piazza Duomo: always accessible - ticket price: free
- Duomo: every day, from 7:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00 - ticket price: free
- Baptistery: every day, from 7:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00 - ticket price: free
- Coccia Theater: always accessible (it is possible to visit the theater only externally, unless you are attending a performance)
- Broletto: always accessible (the Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:00 to 19:00) - ticket price: Free (access to the Gallery costs € 5,00 per person)
- Lunch at Piccarello Vineria & more - Get directions
- Museums of the Canonica del Duomo: Saturday and Sunday, from 15:00 to 18:00 (winter time) and from 16:00 to 19:00 (summer time) - ticket price: free
- Novara rice fields: always accessible - ticket price: free
- Visconti castle: it cannot be visited inside, with the exception of organized exhibitions and / or events. To find out more, we invite you to consult the official website of the Novara Castle
- Price at Zeroquarantanove - Get directions
Where to eat in Novara: the best restaurants
- Sciauru Restaurant: restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, with a menu mostly based on fish. The furnishings are also beautiful, with a typical Sicilian appeal.
Average price per person: € 30,00
Address and contacts: via Pontida, 6 / A (Get directions) / tel: +39 0321 231474
- La Rima Restaurant: top restaurant in Novara, with the highest quality of the products offered and excellent value for money. Suitable for both a family dinner and a romantic outing.
Average price per person: € 30,00
Address and contacts: viale Dante Alighieri, 13 (Get directions) / tel: +39 0321 1588260
- The inn of the two mothers-in-law: traditional inn offering a revisited Piedmontese cuisine, with options for vegetarians and celiacs.
Average price per person: € 20,00
Address and contacts: corso Trieste, 42 / A (Get directions) / tel: +39 0321 032310
- Piccarello Vineria & more: small but cozy restaurant, suitable for a light lunch.
Average price per person: € 15,00
Address and contacts: Corso Giuseppe Mazzini, 13 (Get directions) / tel: +39 345 279 9996
- Zero forty nine: trendy place suitable for aperitifs and informal dinners.
Average price per person: € 20,00
Address and contacts: piazza Martiri delle Libertà (Get directions) / tel: +39 393 928 1306
What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Novara
Although not as famous as the "neighbor" Turin, Novara has a lot to offer and not only as attractions and museums to visit during the day, but also as a destination for nightlife in the area: pubs, cocktail bars, clubs with live music, discos ... In short, in Novara fun is guaranteed and, we are sure, it will not be difficult for you to find the solution that best suits you!
Take that into consideration the main area for nightlife is enclosed in the historic center area and in the main squares of the city, such as the surroundings of Piazza Gramsci or Piazza Martini della Libertà. Below, we have selected 3 possible solutions to spend a truly unforgettable evening in Novara!
The best pubs, clubs and discos
- Guinness Time: traditional brewery, with grilled cuisine and specialties / Address: via Varallo, 6 (Get directions) / Facebook page
- Amèlie Vinoteque et Taverne: excellent wine bar in the city center, with a wide choice of wines and gins / Address: via XX Settembre, 12 (Get directions) / Facebook page
- Ryan's Club: cult disco of the place, near the historic center with live music performances and house music evenings / Address: via Giacinto Morera, 2 (Get directions) / Facebook page
Plan your stay in Novara: info and useful tips
- How to get there by car: Novara is easily reachable by car from the main Italian cities via highways. Here are the distances from the main nearby cities: Milan 47km, Turin 92km, Aosta 140km, Como 77km, Lecco 97km, Bergamo 93km, Brescia 139km, Alessandria 72km, Piacenza 120km, Genoa 153km
- How to arrive by plane: the most popular airports are Milan Malpensa (32km) or Turin (103kmk). In both cases, from the airport terminals it is necessary to move by shuttle to the main railway stations of the two centers, and then take a train towards Novara.
- Getting around: the center can be perfectly visited on foot. However, if you intend to explore the surroundings and the rice fields, we recommend that you bring a car.
- Where to park: if it is not possible to leave your car at the hotel, there are several paid parking lots that could be for you. We recommend the Manzoni Parking (Get directions), also very convenient for those who want to travel by train as it is located just 500 meters from the Novara train station. The car park is open 24 hours a day, with video surveillance and the hourly daily rate cannot exceed the limit of € 24 (so it is also quite cheap).
- Hotel and b & b starting from € 40,00 per room -
- What to see in the surroundings: Milan (47km), Turin (92km), Vercelli (23km), Vigevano (25km), Morimondo (34km), Ticino Valley Natural Park (19km), Somma Lombardo (34km), Arona (38km), Lake Orta ( 47km), Lake Maggiore (73km), Casale Monferrato (45km), Biella (53km), Ivrea (70km)