Riserva del Sacro Monte Orta - Monte Mesma - Torre Buccione

Protected Areas

Identity Cards

  • Regions: Piemonte
  • Provinces: Novara

Situated on the hills dominating the eastern shore of lake Orta, the three protected areas have been established by the Piemonte Region in order to safeguard, conserve, and enhance the historical, artistic, and religious heritage, the environmental and naturalistic aspects, and to promote its knowledge and fruition.
They are managed by an Instrumental Authority belonging to the Region and representing the Municipalities, the environmental associations, and the religious communities living in the area. The Reserves lie in areas covered with woods and are important for the presence of considerably important and charming historical buildings: in Sacro Monte the devotional route of the Chapels and the Church of San Nicolao, in Monte Mesma the 17th-century Franciscan monastery, and in Torre di Buccione the remains of a 11th-12th century castle.
Sacro Monte d'Orta is in the World Heritage List safeguarded by UNESCO since "it represents a successful combination between architecture and decorative arts in a landscape of great beauty and for the high spiritual value reached in a very difficult moment for the Roman Catholic Church".



Sacro Monte di Orta

(Special Nature Reserve)

It is situated among the green forests at the top of the hill dominating Lake Orta. Sacro Monte counts 21 chapels built between the end of the 16th and the end of the 18th centuries with frescos and sculptures of terracotta about the life of St Francis.
If the paintings and the sculptures are an artistic heritage and were realized by skilled artists of that period (the Fiamminghini, Cristoforo Prestinari, Dionigi Bussola, and the Morazzone), the natural aspects of the area are not less interesting.
The promontory on which Sacro Monte d'Orta rises is made up of rocks which have been shaped by the glaciers of the Quaternary period. The flora is characterized by evergreens and by some characteristic mountain flora like the Blueberry. Among the arboreal species there are Scotch firs, yews, ash trees, and a beautiful avenue of centuries-old hornbeams facing the lake.

Environment (Italian text)
Sacro Monte d'Orta is situated at about 400 meters of height in a wonderful panoramic position over the settlement of Orta and the homonymous lake. The territory of the Reserve extends for 13 hectares divided into two different areas: the slopes of the hill dominated by broadleaf tree woods and the monumental area where the vegetation has always been taken care of as a historical garden.
The author of the project of Sacro Monte studied not only the route among the chapels, but also the environment and the vegetation: as a consequence, the unique relationship between nature, the lake, the green, and the chapels was created; a relationship which still characterizes Sacro Monte.

Chapel XV
Chapel XV

Colle della Torre di Buccione

(Special Nature Reserve)

Situated near Mt. Mesma and facing the Lake Orta, Colle della Torre di Buccione represents an aspect of the lake landscape which is particularly significant even from a forest point of view. It has at the top a fortified tower which is interesting from an historical-architectural point of view, the last bulwark of a castle mentioned in some documents dating back to the 13th century. On the tower of Buccione the bell signalling the dangers was situated: the last 17th-century specimen is nowadays safeguarded in the garden of the Town Hall of Orta.

Environment (Italian text)
The hill, which was in the past seat of mining activities for the presence of porphyry, is nowadays covered with a thick chestnut grove colonizing the steep slopes of the Reserve extending for 15 hectares.

Photo by Colle della Torre di Buccione

Monte Mesma

(Special Nature Reserve)

At the top of the mountain where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Lake Orta there is a monumental complex consisting of a monastery built in the 17th century on the ruins of a 13th-century castle, and by some chapels situated along the religious procession route.
The area is characterized by many elements of archaeological interest, with Celtic finds and materials from the Roman-Imperial and Gallic periods.
The mountain slopes are rich in vegetation and in particular in chestnut trees and oaks which need requalification interventions. The presence of many evergreen plants like holly, box-tree, cherry laurel, and yew is interesting thanks to the climatic influence of the nearby lake.

Environment (Italian text)
The hill of Mesma reaches the 576 meters of height, and it is situated in the Municipality of Ameno in the province of Novara.
Cultivated in the past above all with vineyards, today the hill of Mesma is almost entirely covered with chestnut tree woods, except the part adjacent to the Monastery, where the Franciscan monks still cultivate with great care meadows and vegetable gardens.
The basis of the hill where rio Membra and the stream Agogna lie are particularly interesting, since they are rich in vegetal essences.

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© 2023 - Ente di gestione delle Riserve Naturali Speciali del Sacro Monte di Orta, del Monte Mesma e del Colle della Torre di Buccione