Novara is built on a hill rising up from the surrounding plain, safe from floods, between the course of the Agogna and Terdoppio rivers, and not far from the Ticino.
The urban layout extends along two main roads: the Cardo (Corso Cavour and Corso Mazzini) and the Decumanus (Corso Italia and Corso Cavallotti).
Only a few traces now remain of the Roman walls, which enclosed the city within a polygonal perimeter.
In the Lombard era, Novara was part of the Duchy of Bulgaria, and later, under Frankish rule (841-969), the Committee of Pombia.
The city and the surrounding lands came under the control of an episcopal seigniory until the battle with Henry V (1110), which led to the new municipal system.
Novara was allied with Barbarossa in 1154 against Milan, and later joined the Lombard League (1168). In 1311, it fell under the dominion of the Visconti.