With the advent of the new year, Oasi Zegna is celebrating an important birthday: Monte Marca, Bielmonte’s first ski-lift, is 60 years old. The single-seat chair lift is still the emblem of Bielmonte, the ski resort “invented” by Ermenegildo Zegna, and was the first facility to be built there.
At the beginning of the ‘50s, the Panoramica Zegna road project reached its high point at “Alpe Marca di Piatto”, an area whose landscape characteristics Ermenegildo Zegna saw as ideal for a holiday resort only a few kilometers from the city of Biella. So the philanthropic entrepreneur suggested that the municipality of Piatto change the name of the place to Bielmonte.
The extraordinary project to upgrade Biella’s mountain environment for tourism was the fruit of its creator’s long-term vision. Having launched the construction of the “Piazzale” to accommodate cars and buses of tourists and skiers, Ermenegildo Zegna called for designs for ski installations for the new resort.
The first project was the Monte Marca chair-lift, built in 1956 and opened in January 1957. The upper terminal, designed by the architect Ernesto Giuliano Armani, had a bar and a restaurant that entered service in summer 1958. Ten years later, an ice-skating rink was opened next to the panoramic terrace and operated till the mid ‘70s.
Bielmonte rapidly became a famous ski resort and a venue for major sporting events, such as those associated with the “Valanga Azzurra” (the Italian national ski squad) that took part in the “Parallelo di Natale” in 1976 and 1977 and the “KL” speed skiing event in 1998 and 1999.
The environmental upgrading project is still in progress. A great favorite above all with families thanks to its sunny position and splendid views across the plains of the river Po, Bielmonte now offers 10 km of downhill slopes and 20 km of cross country skiing, as well as a 50 km network of snowshoe trails.