Trail & Technology
July the 1st 2018 saw the 54th addition to the Italian Unesco World Heritage sites. The latest marvel to be included in the long list, which features sites such as the Amalfi Coast and the Historical Centre of Florence, was the seemingly unassuming city of Ivrea, in Piedmont’s subalpine Canavese area.
Where is Ivrea?
Set in north west Italy, Ivrea and the Canavese are situated in the Metropolitan area of Turin. The Canavese borders with the Aosta Valley, and is crossed by the Italian Long distance Pilgrim’s route, the Via Francigena.
It’s also home, along with the surrounding areas, to an enthusiastic trail running movement which hosts an ample selection of trail races throughout the year.
You may wish to read our guide to the Piedmont region
Battle of the Oranges
You may have heard of Ivrea, due to it’s notorious days of mayhem throughout Carnival time when the annual Battle of the Oranges takes place. An event that involves thousands of townsfolk who engage in what must be one of the world’s largest food fights.
Over three days in February, sixty thousand oranges are used as ‘weapons’ in what is one of Italy’s most spectacular street festivals, as teams throw the oranges at each other in an elaborate remake of historical events. Worried about food waste? The oranges used are said to be destined for destruction as unfit for human consumption!
Ivrea and the Olivetti empire
But Oranges aren’t the reason that Ivrea was added to the Unesco World Heritage list. Far from it. Known as the “Industrial City of the 20th Century” Ivrea has often been referred to as Italy’s Silicon Valley.
Under the beautiful mind of Adriano Olivetti, Ivrea became a major player in Italy’s post war industrial development.
Adriano led and developed his fathers’ already successful company: “Olivetti” founded in 1908. Originally manufacturers of typewriters, under the innovative genius of son Adriano, the firm went on to produce award winning technology, and also in 1964, the world’s first commercial programmable ‘desktop computer’ – the ‘Programma 101’.
The Olivetti Vision that shaped Ivrea
However this was no soulless, power hungry ascent into personal supremacy. From the 1930’s onwards, CEO Adriano Olivetti brought his own brand of style and culture into the corporate philosophy.
Keen to improve conditions in the workplace, Adriano set out to change the way that working life interacted and existed in the local community.
This meant re-thinking ‘the factory’, its services and the needs of the population.
Together with Architects, Engineers, Philosophers, Sociologists, Psychologists, Intellectuals and Designers, Ivrea was transformed into an ‘Ideal City’. One that offered a utopian structure that actually delivered.
It wasn’t only the workforce’s wellbeing and life quality that was the result of the driving force that was Adriano Olivetti.
The same people that helped shape the city, were also the very same people that were building the Olivetti corporate brand, focused not only on the end result, but also the process.
Olivetti defined an industrial culture that combined the Arts, Science, Technology, Design, Christianity and Humanism.
The firm transitioned successfully meeting evolving market demands, from mechanics to electronics, to IT systems and services and finally telecommunications.
The industrial area that shines amidst the trails
In considering Ivrea – Italy’s latest addition to the Unesco World Heritage list, along with nearby Turin and it’s own famous industrial heritage under the flag of Fiat, one can be mistaken into thinking that this part of Italy, is all about heavy industry.
So it can come as quite a surprise to discover the thriving trail running scene and trail race calendar that animates the Canavese and Biellese countryside.
Several of which take place around Ivrea’s spectacular Morainic amphitheater.
Where to trail run around Ivrea
APRIL | TrailLaghi 50km 2220m D+, 25km 1080 D+, 24km 1140m D+
MAY | Trail Monte Soglio 71km 4900m D+, 36km 2160m D+, 16km 900m D+
MAY | Erbaluce Night Trail 30km 800m D+
JUNE | Trail dell’Oasi Zegna 59km 3600D+, 29km 1400m D+, 16km 750m D+
SEPTEMBER | Ivrea-Mombarone 21Km con 2000 m D+
OCTOBER | Trail Monte Casto 21Km 900m D+, 46Km 2200m D+
OCTOBER | Morenic Trail 119km 2540 D+
Maria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.