Lombardy: a place of villages and mountain hamlets
With its villages and mountain hamlets, Lombardy offers many places that are steeped in history and surrounded by nature.
While they are enchanting during every season, in winter they hold a special appeal: the smoke escaping from chimneys blanketed in white, the festive lights, the snow that covers roofs and fields, all transforming Lombardy’s historic villages into magical scenes. The pace of life slows down here: there are no queues for the ski lift and visitors can enjoy silent strolls through the woods, visits to artisan workshops and a local artistic heritage dating back more than a thousand years, allowing you to discover Lombardy’s ancient traditions. Here are 5 destinations that are often overlooked, hidden in Lombardy’s most beautiful valleys.
A medieval village built entirely from stone in the Imagna Valley
The ancient hamlet of Arnosto in Fuipiano Valle Imagna (BG) is one of the most valuable examples of rural architectural in the Bergamo valley. Standing at a height of 1,033m, it dates back to the 14th century and boasts an important past: here, on the border between ‘La Serenissima’ (the Republic of Venice) and the Duchy of Milan, it was home to the Venetian Customs House until the end of the 18th century. During winter, snow covers the village’s characteristic granite tiled roofs, made using solid limestone slabs, and the old medieval houses with thick stone walls make the village seem like a place that has remained untouched by the passage of time. The smell of domestic fires accompanies visitors on a tour that includes a visit to the 17th-century church and the Palazzo della Dogana di Venezia. There is also a small ethnographical museum that documents the life of the ancient populations of the Imagna Valley.
Immerse yourself in nature and culture above Lake Como
Here is a destination that combines nature, culture and tradition. In Lanzo d'Intelvi, in the Upper Intelvi Valley (CO), visitors can admire the Belvedere della Sighignola, a breath-taking Alpine panorama located on the border between Italy and Switzerland, immersed in the silence of the ‘Balcone d'Italia’ (Italian balcony). If you love architecture, in the village – which was a renowned holiday resort in the early 1900s – you will find two Liberty-style villas of exceptional beauty: Villa Poletti (1867-1917) and Villa Turconi (1918) in a neo-medieval style. In Lanzo, ancient traditions are more alive than ever: the last Sunday in January is the Feast of the Black Madonna. On this day, the statue kept in the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Loreto (1670) is carried in procession, with torchlight processions and a bonfire to conclude the event.
An crossroads in the heart of the Alta Val Camonica
Set against the Adamello Group at an altitude of 700m, Edolo is located at the crossroads of the ancient routes between Val Camonica, Valtellina and Trentino. The town has a tradition of Alpine sports, but is also a mountain village rich in history. In the centre, cobbled lanes wind their way through historic aristocratic buildings with marble gates and windows with decorative grilles, made over the centuries by master craftsmen. To visit: Casa Zuelli, a national monument. To do: the route of the fountains, of which there are 6. To visit: the parish church of di S. Maria Nascente. Finish your excursion with a pause on the giant panoramic bench in nearby Mù.
In the Valtellina Mountain Community
In the historic hamlet of Grosio (SO), which forms part of the Tirano Mountain Community of Valtellina, archaeology, art and history have coexisted harmoniously for thousands of years. In fact, man’s presence here can be dated back to the Bronze Age, and the most important rock engravings in Valtellina can be found on the Rupe Magna. But that’s not all. As the domain of the Venosta family in the Middle Ages, Gromo is home to the historic Castello di San Faustino and Castello dei Visconti. Villa Visconti Venosta (dating back to the 16th century), which is now a museum, is also located here. Finally, the church of S. Giorgio (dating back to the 13th century) can be found in the town centre, and is a real artistic gem waiting to be discovered.
Valsassina and its Pearl
The historic cableway to Piani di Bobbio, which is renowned for winter sports, departs from Barzio (LC). Since the 19th century, however, the exclusive panorama of the Grigne has made the village the Pearl of Valsassina, the perfect destination for a relaxed form of tourism. History has also blessed Barzio with many beautiful sights; in Roman times it was crossed by Via Spluga and the domain of the Duchy of Milan. Make sure you visit Palazzo Manzoni (dating back to the late 17th century), which did indeed belong to the relatives of Alessandro Manzoni, author of The Betrothed. Don’t miss out on a visit to the Church of Sant’Alessandro (dating back to the 15th century) and the museum of the sculptor Medardo Rosso, which can be found in the ancient Oratory of San Giovanni Battista. Finally, in the rural village of Concenedo, visitors can find the cloistered Monastery of Santa Maria del Monte Carmelo, where the Discalced Carmelite nuns paint icons that can be purchased as souvenirs.