Basso Sebino: Paradise Between the Mountains and Lake
6 August 2016
Nestled between Lake Iseo and Mount Bronzone, it unites ancient noble architectural elements, traces of industrial archaeology and modern accommodation facilities, with rural and mountain lifestyles that are still intact in many respects.
Located between the end of Lake Iseo and the beginning of Val Calepio, Sarnico is the “capital” of this area. Its airy squares, lakefront, shops, and artistic and naturally beautiful surroundings make it a pleasant place to stay.
– The “Contrada”, the heart of the historic district which is home to the architectural vestiges of the old hamlet.
– The Art Deco villas designed by architect Giuseppe Sommaruga at the behest of the Faccanoni family are amongst the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the Lombardy region.
– Gianni Bellini Picture-Gallery, 150 works of art (15th/17th century) donated by Don Gianni Bellini to the community, on display at Gervasoni Palace, a 15th century building, at one time a convent for nuns and completely restored in 2002.
NATURE TRAILS IN VALLE DI ADRARA
Crossed by the Guerna stream, it branches out from the upper Val Calepio to the San Fermo hills in a natural context of great importance, abounding with trails, history, art and culture. The Gruppo Sentieri Adrara (Adrara Trails Group) has created an interesting guide to the trails in this valley with itineraries that are suitable to everyone and which can be downloaded from the website: www.grupposentieriadrara.it
Historic and rural CASTLES AND HAMLETS
Castelli Calepio The medieval hamlet dominated by the Conti Calepio Castle which was built around the year 1000 and witnessed the exploits of condottiere Trussardo da Calepio.
Credaro Trebecco Castle, 10th century, located on a spur, it is a small medieval fortress with tiny courtyards and streets inside its walls.
Grumello del Monte The Castle retains the typical features of an estate. In 1442, it became the property of condottiero Bartolomeo Colleoni.
Vigolo Ronchi della Bratta is a cluster of houses nestled in a stunning valley rich with farmsteads and rustic buildings.
Parzanica the hamlet in Acquaiolo community, with a panoramic view on a sheer cliff overlooking Lake Iseo, features perfectly rustic homes made of stone.
ROMANESQUE ARCHITECTURE IN THE LOWER SEBINO AREA
All in all, there are twenty Romanesque churches in the area between Valcalepio and the Lower Sebino area.
The “Il Romanico nel Basso Sebino” Association whose aim is to make this heritage known to others, organises visits, meetings and guided cycle tours (www.romanicobassosebino.it). Some of the Romanesque structures are: Sant’Alessandro in Canzanica at Adrara San Martino, San Giorgio Martire in Credaro, Sant’Alessandro in Agros at Villongo, SS Nazario and Rocco in Sarnico, San Giorgio in Predore and the San Michelone oratory in Tavernola Bergamasca.
THE ROAD OF THE SANTELLE (SHRINES)
The Lower Sebino area is home to a considerable number of santelle (shrines-154 catalogued), also known as “aedicules”: small architectural structures built by the parish communities or private citizens as an act of devotion and acknowledgment to the Madonna or Saints. They represent a small part of the history of the Lower Sebino.
EXPLORING SANCTUARIES IN THE LOWER SEBINO
In Vigolo Madonna di Loreto, also known as the Madonna del Dosso; in Tavernola Bergamasca the Madonna di Cortinica, on the road that led to Bergamo in antiquity; in Predore Madonna della Neve (Our Lady of the Snows) which is reached by climbing 288 steps; in Adrara San Rocco, I Morti di Bondo (the Dead of Bondo), where the miraculous events performed by the ancients buried here are narrated; in Foresto Sparso, San Giovanni delle Formiche, stands on the top of a hill with a cone shape, easily spotted from a distance for its characteristic shape; in Gandosso the Madonna del Castello in a panoramic position.
LOTTO, ROMANINO AND THE FANTONIS in Lower Sebino
The Romanesque church of San Giorgio in Credaro houses an important cycle of frescoes by Lorenzo Lotto. The frescoes in the Chapel of San Rocco, close to Villongo’s parish church of San Filastro, and the Church of San Pietro in Tavernola Bergamasca are all by painter Girolamo Romanino.
Wooden artwork by Andrea and Grazioso Fantoni are found in the Parish Church of Foresto Sparso, whereas the Church of the Annunciazione in Gandosso was built to Andrea Fantoni’s architectural plan.
In Foresto Sparso, the Valle del Tuf, a small valley in to a phytogeographic area of great naturalistic value (Insubria).
In Gandosso, le Molere, quarries where massive millstones were cut for grain in Roman times. The techniques for carving the millstones from the rock are still visible, left incomplete by the last quarrymen artisans.
The Palestra di roccia (the Rock Gym) in Predore, a beautiful cliff with a southern exposition and tracks suitable for beginners and more advanced climbers.
In Tavernola Bergamasca, the Marmitta dei Giganti (the Giants’ Pothole), a glacier pothole, an example of the Karst phenomenon.
In Predore in 2012, following a careful and farsighted restoration plan, a museumized archaeological site was inaugurated, “Le Terme Romane”, (Roman Baths), located on the grounds of the old Lanza factory. It is a thermal bath building pertaining to a larger villa built in the 1st century AD and used until the 5th century AD.