The first ski-lift built at Bielmonte was the single-seat chair-lift that still links the resort in the province of Biella with the top of Monte Marca (1,615 m). Designed by Bruno Bonfiglio and built by Milan-based CITA (Costruzioni Impianti Trasporti Alpini), it entered service in January 1957. The opening of this chair-lift, a “low capacity” model capable of moving around 280 people/hour, was the first step in Ermenegildo Zegna’s visionary project, which was to transform the area known in the ‘50s as “Alpe Marca di Piatto” into a tourist resort combining sport, outdoor activities and love of the mountains. Easy to reach from Biella (as from elsewhere) thanks to the new Panoramica Zegna road then under construction, the “alpe” struck the Trivero industrialist as an ideal place for people wanting to discover and enjoy the natural beauty of the local landscape. Thanks also to the building of non-invasive accommodation by illustrious architects like Luigi Vietti and Ernesto Giuliano Armani, Bielmonte soon became a favorite with local people, not least because of the fascinating views across the Po valley from the mountain top. Work proceeded at the same time on a series of ski-lifts for the new resort, which now has seven lifts, 80 km of ski slopes, cross-country trails and fresh snow slopes and a 50 km network of paths for snowshoe hiking. The figures alone give an idea of the longsighted vision and passion of this unique project, made possible by a perfect mix of creativity and know-how leading to certain innovations that were extraordinary in those days. The beginners area carved out of the hillside opposite the Bielmonte plaza, for example, had a magic carpet around 100 meters long, unheard of in the ‘50s. In 1976, the resort’s first artificial snow system (only the second in Piemonte) was installed along the ski tow. And 1978 saw the opening of the “Rolba Run”, a slope reserved for mini-bobs with wheels and skids: this was the first fiber cement slope of its kind to be built in Italy. Also noteworthy was the night-time lighting system that entered service in winter 1972-73. Its powerful 1000 W lights made it possible to ski at night (from 9 pm to 12 pm) on the slope above the Bielmonte plaza. Re-activated in 2003, it is now one of the ski resort’s biggest attractions. Discover all the winter events at Oasi Zegna
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