Weather and Seismic Observatory

Open since 1874

Weather and Seismic Observatory of Oropa

The Meteorological Observatory of Oropa appeals to diverse categories of visitors, including schools. What is its history? Don Silvano Cuffolo, the Vice Director of the Observatory, answers.

“The Observatory of Oropa was created in experimental form in 1872 by Father Francesco Denza of Naples, a Barnabite, illustrious man of science and astronomer of the Vatican Observatory (Specola Vaticana), the founder of the ‘Regio Osservatorio Carlo Alberto di Moncalieri’. The first contact Father Denza had on the subject of the construction of an observatory was directly with the Bishop of Biella, Mons. Gio. Pietro Losana, who immediately showed support for the initiative. The termopluviometric station of Oropa became operative in 1874 thanks to the intervention of the Provosts of the Sanctuary, Can. Teologo Pezzia and his successor Can. Demarchi. The instruments were furnished by the Biella section of the Italian Alpine Club. Quintino Sella attended the inauguration ceremony. The activity of the Observatory was carried on, albeit with various vicissitudes, until 1894. After the death of Father Denza the web of over 300 observatories created by him on national soil encountered several difficulties regarding the continuity of working performance and the management. In 1920, with the arrival of the Friars of the Redentorist Order, particularly of Rizzi, Balladinelli and Balzerani, the Observatory was renovated and modernized, becoming a seismic station. It consequently underwent a phase of development and relative prestige. After the withdrawal of the Redentorist Order from Oropa, in 1960, for approximately two decades the Observatory was managed by the wardens of the Sanctuary. In 1979, thanks to the intervention of Banca Sella and the ‘Collegio Costruttori edili di Biella’, the Observatory was renovated under the direction of Dr. Orazio Scanzio, a geologist, and entitled to Quintino Sella. Currently the Observatory is equipped with a wide range of meteorological and seismic instruments, satellite and control stations automatically transmitting data via radio with Turin, via telemetry cable with Rome and Genoa, for the regional and national seismic watch. Data have been regularly available since 1920. Don Silvano Cuffolo has been appointed to data collection and elaboration since 1980. From the 1st of January of 2003 the system has been digitalized and is now available for consultation online, at ( The Observatory is open to visitors and particularly welcomes schools and students working on their dissertation. You are kindly requested to contact the Observatory for booking a visit.

Don Silvano Cuffolo


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