The city is located at the foot of the Biella Alps, and according to ancient prehistoric finds it is certain that the first inhabitants of that territory settled near waterways and dedicated themselves to fishing, hunting, and later to sheep . Its existence, however, is attested since the high Middle Ages.
Already dominated by the bishops of Vercelli, in 1379 passed to the Savoy. Between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries there were numerous clashes between the Visconti and the Savoy to win possession of Biella. The seventeenth century saw instead the wars against the French and the Spanish and the city was occupied by early 1704: in 1706 the heroic soldier Pietro Micca saved, at the cost of his own life, the city of Turin and Biella from the French invasion.
During the nineteenth century, Biella experienced a great industrial and urban development, and soon became known for its textile industries: in 1835, along the banks of the river Cervo, was purchased by Massimo Sella a building of 1695 that had been used for the throwing of silk and that would be later converted into a woolen mill, while in 1866 the noble Giovanni Battista Rivetti-Badone founded the Filatura Rivetti. Thus was born with the introduction of the new mechanical looms, the first modern mill that was going to replace a system of wool processing dating back more than five hundred years before, when you consider that in 1245 were already included in the statutes of Biella the “College wool merchants “and that of” Weavers “. Biella is also, from the sixteenth century, home to a small but significant Jewish community. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, as in the rest of Piedmont, was established the “ghetto” in which it retains a small synagogue in the eighteenth century, with its original furnishings. Noteworthy is also the Jewish cemetery in Biella.
The economy of Biella, as already said, is traditionally linked to the textile industry and in particular to that of wool, and the development of this industry has given rise to companies which the group Zegna, Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti, Fila and Filatura Pollone, whose brands represent the excellence of the fabrics in the world. A Biella also home company history in other areas such as the Banca Sella, one of the main Italian private banks, founded in 1886 on the initiative of Quintino Sella, and Menabrea, one of the oldest Italian breweries founded in 1846.
A Biella are home to the “Museum of the Mountain”, strongly backed by ANA (Associazione Nazionale Alpini), the museum contains memorabilia, uniforms and equipment in use in the past. Also in town you can visit the “Museo del Territorio Biellese” made by former sixteenth-century convent of San Sebastian. There are space artifacts that tell the history of the area and its inhabitants through the ages, from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages, since the advent of Savoy to industrial innovations. Also visit the Duomo, in 1402, in neo-Gothic style, and the Baptistery of St. John the Baptist dating from the Romanesque period.