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Candelo (Biella)- Ricetto

Foto Ricetto -  of historical value
Foto Ricetto -  of historical value
Foto Ricetto -  of historical value
Foto Ricetto -  of historical value
Foto Ricetto -  of historical value
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Places  of historical value in the Biella area: RicettoThe term "ricetto" refers to a fortified part of a medieval village, comprising a group of houses and buildings surrounded by walls defended by towers, in which the inhabitants took refuge in case of war or danger. The difference compared to a fortified village is that the buildings inside the walls are not designed and built to be inhabited in a stable way, but only occasionally. During quiet periods they had the simple function of warehouses. The difference compared to a castle is that the ricetto was built and belonged to the entire population of the village, not only to the lord. This is why it was also referred to as the "palace of the people".
The ricetto is a structure that is diffused especially in Piedmont and of all of them, that of Candelo is the best preserved one. Other partially preserved ricetti are for example those of Magnano and of Carpignano Sesia.

The construction of the ricetto dates back to the era of Italy of the Municipalities, ie to the thirteenth century. In accordance with its defensive functions, it was built in a place that facilitated its defense. It is therefore located on a hill, with only the south-west side easily accessible, as the north-east side touches the steepest side of the hill (with the river Cervo to further defense), while the other two overlook wetlands. Note that even today the ricetto is located on the outer edge of the town of Candelo, not at its center!
The currently visible ricetto corresponds to the ricetto as it was in the fifteenth century, apart from some subsequent changes that have partly distorted it.

Its plan can be defined as pentagonal, although the shape is not regular. Approximately it occupies an area of 120 x 100 meters, rather small therefore. Looking at an image from the satellite, one realizes that inside it is almost completely occupied by small houses (about 200) of similar size and organized in parallel rows along the south-west-northeast axis. Even the structure of these houses is largely homogeneous: a ground floor with an eminently function of warehouse/stable/storage room and an upper floor that could be used as a temporary dwelling during periods of danger.
The ground floor can therefore usually be accessed through a large door flanked by one or two small windows (Fig. 3), while the upper floor was originally accessed by a ladder.

All parts of the ricetto, except for the most recent additions, are built with poor materials: river pebbles, roughly squared stones, bricks. Nevertheless the various structures denote a certain stylistic refinement.
A very interesting element is represented by the fact that the area on which it extends is not flat, but it was made so that all the various parts are slightly inclined in order to convey rainwater and sewage to the square tower in the center of the northeast wall, built in such a way as to facilitate the discharge of these towards the outside in the direction of the river Cervo.

Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, the ricetto was completely surrounded by walls. There were six towers. Both walls and towers have a thickness of approx. 80cm.
Of the five remaining towers, four have a circular section. Often the side towards the inside is open so as to facilitate the passage of men and materials. Four of the circular towers are placed on corners of the walls. One, taller and slender, is instead placed more inside and in the XIII and XIV centuries it was used as a prison.
The fifth tower has a rectangular plan and is the one already mentioned that corresponds to the drainage point of the entire ricetto.
The sixth tower was on the southwest side and was demolished in 1809, when the municipal building was built.
It should be remembered that originally the ricetto was surrounded by a moat, in which, however, almost certainly, there was never water. The large access tower still keeps track of the mechanisms through which the drawbridge was raised and lowered (Fig. 1).

At the beginning of the fifteenth century, by modifying and raising the pre-existing cells placed near the entrance, Sebastiano Ferrero, feudal lord of the place since 1496 on the investiture of the Duke Filippo II Senzaterra, had his house built, in fact a fortified tower, the highest building of the ricetto and commonly known as the Prince's House.
Unfortunately, almost all the external and internal decorative elements of the building have been lost, many due to a fire that took place at the beginning of the 20th century.

The great wine press in one of the cellars of the ricetto dates back to the seventeenth century. Made using the entire trunk of a large oak it was originally used by the entire community. Another similar press is unfortunately lost.

Unfortunately, in 1809, with the arrival of Napoleon, a large part of the southwest wall was demolished, to make room for the City Hall in neoclassical style, which absolutely doesn't fit to the rest.

In spite of this alterations the ricetto still retains a lot of charm. Various cellars are currently occupied by boutiques, restaurants and wine shops and offer visitors additional reasons to stay.

Finally we want to remember that according to a legend (which could have more than just a fund of truth) originally there was a long tunnel through which it was possible not only to escape without being seen, but even reach the Castle of Zumaglia on the other side of the river Cervo.
It is said that some years ago the access to the gallery (now definitively closed) was found by some citizens, who managed to walk the tunnel to the river Cervo.

Categories: Places of historical value

Piazza Castello, 31A, 13878 Candelo BI
Ricetto: Further pictures in the section Photography
Candelo (Biella, Italy): Street of the ricetto of Candelo
Candelo (Biella, Italy): Street inside the ricetto of Candelo