Vigezzo Valley: The Valley of the Painters

The Vigezzo Valley is located in the extreme north-east of Piedmont, a few kilometres from the Swiss border.

Surrounded by the Lepontine Alps, it is an area rich in beautiful natural landscapes, art and tradition.
The woods and pine forests of the mountains make it suitable for summer or winter excursions and snowshoeing; the skiing facilities of the Baitina of Druogno and the Piana of Vigezzo make it an ideal destination for those who love winter sports and want to have a holiday on the snow.

Homeland of many artists and source of inspiration for landscape and portrait painters, the Vigezzo Valley is known to many as the Valley of the Painters: traces of strong artistic presence in the valley are still visible in stately and rural homes, in the museums and numerous places of worship.

In the votive chapels or small churches, you can admire examples of devotional painting, paintings on canvas or frescoes by local painters such Borgnis, Cavalli and Fornara.

The culture is found in the numerous museums of Santa Maria and throughout the Valley; first among all, the Museum of the Chimney Sweeper inside Villa Antonia, to remember this trade made of sacrifices and migration from the valley to all over Europe. Every year chimney sweepers from all over the world gather in Santa Maria at the characteristic International Meeting in September.

Moving on to Malesco, an indication of this rural civilization is the Mulino dul Tàc, the ancient mill of the late 1800’s, located in the village of Zornasco, used in the past for the production of rye and chestnut flours, and whatever else the earth could offer. Still in Malesco, you can visit the Museum of Earthenware and Masons inside the Praetorian Palace, a concrete evidence of man’s exploitation of this local resource since prehistoric times.

There are many places of interest in the other towns in the valley, such as the majestic Sanctuary of Re, dedicated to the Madonna del Sangue, the famous Treasure of Craveggia conserved in the village church and consisting of crosses, vestments and the funeral mantle of Louis XIV, or the Museum “Ca di Feman" (the women’s house) in Villette which has a collection of many typical tools and objects used by the women of Vigezzo for domestic activities.

Uncontaminated nature and places full of charm characterize the National Park of the Val Grande, the large wilderness area which extends from the Vigezzo Valley to the basin of Lake Maggiore, a valley of dense forests, rich of Alpine flora and fauna. A perfect destination for mountaineers and excursionists, the Great Valley has numerous access points, including one in Malesco which is considered the easiest and most direct.

It is easy to continue from here and follow routes of different levels, observe the immense spaces where human settlement has given way to the wilderness, as evidenced by petroglyphs, abandoned mountain cottages, charming paths carved into the rock in order to move the cattle, and terracing.