Camonica Valley is one of the most extensive valleys of Central Alps and it is about 90 km long, from Passo del Tonale to Corno dei Trentapassi, near Pisogne, Lake Iseo.
Oglio River runs through the valley.
Its reputation is due to the Rock Engravings parks. There are more than 300,000 figures carved on the rock walls, which make the valley a center of Rock Art, known all over the world. UNESCO added this area to the “World Cultural Heritage List” in 1979. Ancient Camuni’s way of living is represented .... figures of animals like deer, dogs ... rites of initiation to hunting ... scenes related to agriculture like plowing, towed carts.
Man is engaged in moments of worship (human figures with arms up, probably the veneration of the sun). The visit to one of these parks or museums in the area is really worthy.
Continuing the discovery of the art and culture of the valley, following the historical events, a stop in Cividate Camuno, will get in touch with the Roman era. Here the capital of the valley, consequently a theater and an amphitheater were built. Remains still visible in the Archeological Park. To complete the visit, the National Museum and a Sanctuary dedicated to Minerva which are not far away.
Romanesque Art in Camonica Valley is well represented by the Church of San Siro and the Monastery of San Salvatore.
From the Middle Age to the Renaissance, thanks to the prosperity due to the Venetian Government, the churches are enriched with frescoes and marvelous cycles: the late Gothic style by Da Cemmo in the Church of Saint Mary the Assumption in Esine, the Renaissance in the Church of Saint Antony in Breno, visible only in the apse, where Romanino worked.
The village of Bienno testifies the evolution that took place from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century:
During the Middle Ages, tower houses were built, to defend the most important families in the village, and some of them are visible even today... in the 1500s, elegant houses were also built in the central streets.
The charming old town also houses the Church of the Annunciation, frescoed by Da Cemmo and then by Romanino.
Bienno has been added to the "Most Beautiful Villages in Italy"!
Today Bienno is also called Capital of “Valle dei Magli” that is Grigna Valley (where “Magli” means “Hammers” used in the smithy). The Forge-Museum can be visited, (in order to understand the reality of extraction and work of iron, for the production of agricultural tools and weapons).
Even the 1400 Water Mill, still working, thanks to the presence of the artificial channel, deserves a visit.
Finally, the Sanctuary of the Way of the Cross in Cerveno has to be mentioned. Beniamino Simoni, in particularly, worked since 1752 and created splendid, highly realistic wooden statues.
A small “Sacro Monte” with stations, implying descent and ascent: from sin to Salvation ... The protagonists have the physiognomy of the local inhabitants ... A sculptural theater that comes to life every 10 years, when the re-enactment is set up, and the whole community participates with great excitement!