Valcamonica, the signs of history

Eleonora Ruzzenenti | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Valcamonica is a wide expanse of flat land that runs through the Central Lombardy Alps and the Provinces of Brescia and Bergamo. Crossed by the Oglio River, the Valley is home to one of the world's richest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs--over 140,000 artworks covering 8000 years have been discovered, and was the first Italian site to go on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1979, beating out such notable human achievements as Rome's Colosseo and Leonardo da Vinci's fresco of The Last Supper in Milan. The Valley takes its name from the Camuni people, a population that – according to ancient Latin sources – lived in the zone during the Iron Age (I millennium B.C.). Nonetheless, the 250,000 rock engravings making the Valley one of the largest petroglyphic collections in the world were realized in the course of 8,000 years, from the Mesolithic period (VIII-VI millennia B.C.) until the Roman and Medieval ages, passing through the Neolithic period, the Copper, Bronze, and Iron Ages.

Despite the fact that Valcamonica extends over approximately 56 miles, from Lovere to Ponte di Legno, the large part of the rock engravings are concentrated in the middle of the Valley, between the peaks of the Concarena and the Pizzo Badile Camuno. Signaled for the first time in 1909 by Walter Laeng (a Brescian geographer), the cave art is divided into various localities, including eight thematic parks, among which is the Natural Reserve of Cave Art in Ceto, Cimbergo and Paspardo; the Park covers an area of approximately 290 acres, distributed over three different municipalities. Among all the parks I recommend visiting the park of Naquane, in Capo di Ponte: here the engravings occupy a hundred rocks inserted in a unique natural setting, made of birch, pine, ash and chestnut trees, which reaches the peak of its beauty in autumn , when the paths are covered with colored leaves

A walk through Valcamonica is truly an evocative itinerary through history, as told by art. The number of the parks is due to increase, not only for the wealth of archaeological finds in more areas of the Valley, but also thanks to the Local Institutions, engaged in the promotion of the land’s cultural heritage and aware that it contributes to social-economic development. Threading your way through Valcamonica archaeological parks you may wonder at the hunters, warriors and farmers, carts and ploughs, horses, oxen, deer, water birds and dogs, huts and medieval rooks.... many more engraved figures and symbols, and their associated theories!

Valcamonica has even more to offer as you journey through its prehistoric cave art. Between one visit and the other, do not miss the opportunity to stroll on the shores of gorgeous Lake Iseo, perhaps stopping to taste the typical gastronomic specialties, the likes of which include famous cheeses and olive oil produced locally. The area hosts also very beautiful churches frescoed by great artists of the Renaissance, the numerous medieval villages and castles, and an operative museum system. Valle Camonica is also well known for Nature and Sport, thanks to the presence of important Ski areas, the cycle track along the Oglio River and the numerous routes for mountain bike, in a diversified landscape, from the glacier to the lake.

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