Val Camonica

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Position of Val Camonica in Lombardy
Flag of Val Camonica
Mount Concarena
Map of Val Camonica (16°C., The Gallery of Maps, Vatican Museums)
Rock engraves, Nadro
Roman anphiteater of Cividate Camuno
Portal of the plebis of St Siro, Capo di Ponte
The castle of Breno
Tower in Bienno
Church of Holy Trinity, Esine

Val Camonica (also Valcamonica or Camonica Valley, in camunian dialect Al Camònega, poetic Camunia) is one of the largest valleys of the central Alps, in eastern Lombardy, about 90 km long. It starts from the Tonale Pass, at 1883 metres above sea level and ends at Corna Trentapassi, in the comune of Pisogne, near Lake Iseo. It has an area of about 1,335 km2[1] and 118,323 inhabitants.[2]

It is traversed throughout its full length from the river Oglio, which begins in Ponte di Legno and terminates in lake Sebino between Pisogne and Costa Volpino.

Almost all of the valley is included in the administrative territory of the province of Brescia, excluding Lovere, Rogno, Costa Volpino and the Val di Scalve,which are parts of the province of Bergamo.


Valle Camonica derives its name from the Latin Vallis Camunnorum, that means "the Valley of the Camunni", the name by which the Romans called the inhabitants (today are called Camuni).



Valle Camonica can be divided into three main areas:

  1. Low Val Camonica: is a flat area full of meadows and fields, which starts from the shores of Lake Iseo and reaches up to the crest of cross Bienno, sometimes referred to as the threshold Breno;
  2. Middle Val Camonica: from threshold Breno comes up to common of Sonico - Edolo. The lower middle valley extending from Breno to Sellero, then starts the upper middle valley from the narrow gorge Cedegolo until Sonico - Edolo;
  3. High Val Camonica: This area of the valley below the Periadriatic Seam, and has an east-west orientation. Starts in the Val di Corteno and continues until the town of Ponte di Legno, tested in place. The climate is similar to the average Valtellina.

It is bounded by these borders:

North East South West
  • The Val di Scalve is a side valley of Val Camonica, but was always been both historically and administratively a separate entity.


The Valle Camonica is crossed by the River Oglio, the fifth longest river of Italy, which was born in Ponte di Legno from the confluence of rivers Frigidolfo and Narcanello. It flows into Lake Iseo between the municipalities of Pisogne and Costa Volpino.

At the town of Rogno its western shore falls under the administration of the province of Bergamo.

Abundant are the streams that descend from the sides of mountains to join to the Oglio (Oi in camunian dialect) of which some are seasonal, and during the summer are dry.

At high altitude there are many alpine lakes, including Lake d'Arno, Lake Moro, as well as many water catchment constructed in the first half of the twentieth century, in order to channel water to power hydroelectric plants in the area.


The Valle Camonica likely became habitable only around 15,000 years ago in the end of last ice age; when the melting glaciers carved out the valley. The first inhabitants likely visited the valley in epipaleolithic times, and appeared to have settled by the Neolithic period. When Ancient Romans reached north of the Po river, they encountered people called the Camunnni, of unknown origin, populating the valley. Rock Drawings in Valcamonica from this period number about 300,000 petroglyphs. By the end of the first century BC, the Valle Camonica is ruled by Ancient Rome, which establishes the city of Cividate Camuno, with baths, and amphitheater and a large sanctuary of Minerva.

During the Middle Ages, numerous clashes between the Guelphs and Ghibellines parties occurred in this region. The Guelphs supported the power of the Bishop of Brescia and the papacy, while the latter sided with the Holy Roman Emperor. In 1287 the Camonica Valley rebelled from under the control by Brescia, and sided with the Visconti of Milan, who extended their control over the area during the 14th century. From 1427 to 1454 there were numerous battles between the Republic of Venice and Milan for the control of the valley. Ultimately the Valley came under the control of Venice. During following centuries, the civilian population grew and engaged in the trade of iron.

Valcamonica, the most extensive of the Lombard valleys and no less renowned for its ancient military history, for its most honourable noble families, and men who were distinguished in letters, in arms, and public offices, and famed for the fertility of its soil; for the industry and commerce of its people….

—Agostino Caggioli - Storia di Valcamonica, 1853

After the defeat of Venice by Napoleon in 1797, it was detached from Venice. With the deposition of Naploleon, the area was controlled by the Austro-Hungarian empire. In 1859, the Val Camonica was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. During World War I battle lines stretched along the east border of Val Camonica, across the Adamello Group. The battles fought in this area are known as White war in Adamello.

In 1955, the National Park of Naquane stone carvings in Capo di Ponte was founded by the Archaeological Superintendence of Lombardy.

Monuments and places of interest[edit]

UNESCO Site[edit]

Further information: Rock Drawings in Valcamonica

It is home to the greatest complex of rock drawings in Europe, with approximately 300,000 petroglyphs,[3] dated from epipaleolithic to the middle ages.

  • Parco nazionale delle incisioni rupestri di Naquane in Capo di Ponte
  • Parco archeologico nazionale dei massi di Cemmo
  • Parco archeologico comunale di Seradina-Bedolina in Capo di Ponte
  • Parco archeologico di Asinino-Anvòia in Ossimo
  • Parco archeologico comunale di Luine in Darfo Boario Terme
  • Parco archeologico comunale di Sellero
  • Parco archeologico comunale di Sonico
  • Riserva naturale Incisioni rupestri di Ceto, Cimbergo e Paspardo in Nadro

Medieval villages[edit]

  • Bienno, has the recognition of being among the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy
  • Lovere, has the recognition of being among the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy
  • Pescarzo (Capo di Ponte), typical small town


  • Castle of Breno, Largest Castle Val Camonica
  • Castle of Gorzone, home of Federici, stands on a hill next to the Dezzo sheer
  • Castle of Cimbergo, located on the downstream of the Re, dominates the middle Valley
  • Castle of Lozio, the fortress where was consumed the slaughter of Lozio
  • Castle of Mù, the bastion of Federici high valley, they remain the foundation

Roman city[edit]

Mountain excursion[edit]

Roman Baths[edit]

Museums and theme parks[edit]

Notable sanctuaries and churches[edit]

Winter sports[edit]

Sports take place in Ponte di Legno, Borno, Montecampione, Aprica and Val Palot

Photo gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Area of the comunes, excluded Val di Scalve
  2. ^ Sum of ISTAT data of communes at 31 December 2007
  3. ^ "Introduzione all'arte rupestre della Valcamonica su" (in Italian). Retrieved 11 May 2009. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°00′27″N 10°20′51″E / 46.00750°N 10.34750°E / 46.00750; 10.34750