Canavese is an historical-geographical area of Piedmont placed between the Serra di Ivrea, the Po river, Stura di Lanzo and the Graian Alps: hence it’s the territory between Turin and Valle d'Aosta and, towards east, the Biellese and Vercellese areas. Its most important cities are Ivrea, considered the capital of Canavese, Chivasso, Ciriè, Cuorgnè and Rivarolo Canavese.
The Canavese area is not clearly defined as neither historical documents nor geography offer precise boundaries. Perhaps the most precise definition is given by the Encyclopaedia Treccani, although it doesn’t include the village of Villareggia, beyond Dora Baltea:
« With the name Canavese we indicate that area of Piedmont between the Serra d’Ivrea and Dora Baltea’s lower course, from Mazzè to its confluence with Po, and the course of this river up to the boundaries of Stura di Lanzo, the left bank of the Stura, except a small part of the plain land north of Turin (Settimo Torinese), then the peaks of the Graian Alps from the Levanne to the massif Gran Paradiso (Malone Valley, Val di Locana, Val di Soana Val Chiusella) »
The territory is crossed by the rivers Dora Baltea, Chiusella, Soana, Malone and Orco, and dominated by Ivrea’s morainic amphitheater and the Gran Paradiso massif, which surround the large flat land around Chivasso. There are many glacial lakes; the most important ones are the Candia Canavese and Viverone on the eastern border with the Biellese territory.
The historical capital of Canavese is the city of Ivrea. A city of Celtic origin, Ivrea became a Roman town hall in the 1st century BC with the name Eporedia, hence the name of its inhabitants, eporediesi. However, the name comes from the ancient village of Cuorgnè, Canava, situated on the banks of the Orco stream or, most likely on the slopes of Mount Quinzèina, where still today you can find the Nava village. Some says it may be related to an ancient hemp cultivation in the area. The inhabitants of the region are called canavesani.
Generally, the Canavese is divided into Alto Canavese (Cuorgnè’s area, Rivarolo Canavese, Castellamonte and the Orco, Soana and Malone valleys), Eporediese (Ivrea’s surroundings, enclosed within the morainic amphitheater), and Basso Canavese (San Giusto Canavese, Caluso’s area, Mazzè, up to Chivasso, and the Turin area).
The "Anfiteatro Morenico di Ivrea" (Ivrea's Morainic Amphitheater)
The morainic amphitheater of Ivrea (AMI) is a glacial moraine located in the Canavese and within the administration of the province of Turin as well as, though marginally, those of Biella and Vercelli. The AMI dates back to the Quaternary period and was caused by the sediments’ movement to the Po Valley during the glaciations of the great glacier which was running through the Dora Baltea’s valley. With an area of more than 500 km², this is one of the best preserved geomorphologic areas in the world.
The name “amphitheater” given to these geomorphological structures refers to their typical elliptical shape when it’s represented on a map.
AMI’s area includes some popular touristic destinations such as Lake Viverone and Lake Sirio, with many accommodation facilities like campsites, as well as many different hotels and restaurants. You can swim in the waters of these two lakes, and in the Viverone’s lake you’ll find a public shipping line that connects the main inhabited areas of the coast.
More recently, the Ecomuseum of the Morainic Amphitheater of Ivrea introduced some innovative touristic projects in the area. The Ecomuseum is a nonprofit association established in 2008 which brings together 14 municipalities in the area, the Mountain Community of Val Chiusella, The Hill Community of the Small Morainic Amphitheater Canavese as well as other associations and subjects. In addition to museum activities, the Ecomuseum organizes various types of events such as theatrical performances, concerts, seminars and tours.
There are plenty hiking trails in the area; the most closely related to AMI’s geological conformation is undoubtedly the Highway of the Ivrea Morainic Amphitheater, about 120 km long, which runs through the entire outer side of the AMI, from Andrate to Brosso. There are several routes connected to the main route which allow reaching the main path from the surrounding towns. The trekking paths in the area of the 5 lakes of Ivrea were expanded too, with some variations to the main path and plenty of themed itineraries. All these routes are accessible on foot, horseback and mountain bikes. Another important hiking route that crosses the AMI’s North-South area is the Francigena Road, which retraces a medieval pilgrim route. In the AMI’s north-eastern side you may also find the GtB (Grande traversata del Biellese, Biellese’s Big Crossing).
Sporting events are common. In particular it’s worth mentioning a classic running competition in the Piedmont, the 5 laghi, which in 2010 celebrated its 33rd edition. About 25 km long, the competition takes place in the area of the 5 lakes and passes through mostly dirt tracks. Closely linked to the hiking paths described earlier is the Morainic Trail, an individual trail that runs for 109 km following the main trail of the Highway of the Ivrea Morainic Amphitheater.