Art & culture

Gipsoteca Museum “Pietro Della Vedova”

In the village of Rima, in the Municipality of Alto Sermenza, it’s possible to visit the Gipsoteca Museum “Pietro Della Vedova”, strongly desired and designed by the artist himself, where are preserved 220 plaster casts, moved from the artist’s studio located in Turin. The sculptor was of origin of Rima and he was a pupil of Vicenzo Vela in the “Accademia Albertina di Torino”. The museum is located in the woods behind the village of Rima and it is reachable on foot by a very short and flat path.

The museum is accessible, by appointment. For info and reservations: + 39 016395025

Oratory of San Giovanni Battista at Ferrate of Rimasco

In the village of Ferrate, a small locality of the new Municipality of Alto Sermenza, rises, at the beginning of the hamlet, the oratory dedicated to “San Giovanni Battista”, which is one of the most important religious structures in Val Sermenza.

The sacred building overlooks the main road at a slightly lower level.

Today, the oratory looks like a completely closed structure, but originally it must have been an open chapel. 

The dimensions of the apse date back to the 15th century.

The first frescoes, located near to the arch, represent “San Biagio” and “San Cristoforo”, while on a sidewall there are “San Sebastiano”, “San Rocco” and a saint Bishop dating from the late 13th century. In the apse hemicycle, however, the Stories of the life of the Saint (1568) were painted: the Beheading (right), the Baptism of Jesus (in the center, under the figure of the God the Father), Salome with the head of the Saint (left).

The oratory can only be admired from the outside.

Natural Museum of Carcoforo

In an ancient Walser house in the Municipality of Carcoforo, you can discover the secrets of alpine nature, thanks to a multi-purpose room which hosts meetings and educational activities, it also provides multimedia workstations with descriptive panels. The museum has been projected and built from the Natural Park of Alta Valsesia using founds of Piedmont Region and of Ministry of Environment.

The structure, originally housed a stable and a hay storage and it has been completely restored preserving the original Walser features.

The museum is accessible by appointment. For info and reservations: +39 0163.54680

The “Pinacoteca” of Varallo

The “Pinacoteca” of Varallo has been founded in 1886 and it houses artwork dating from 15th to 19th century. In particular, a large space is dedicated to important memories of the artistic vocation that moved from the Sacro Monte to characterise the entire Valsesia area over the centuries.

The current layout includes a rich collection of sculptures from the Sacro Monte and the churches in the valley, paintings by Gaudenzio Ferrari and his students, including Bernardino Lanino. An entire section is dedicated to the works of Tanzio da Varallo and 17th century painting.

A wing of the museum contains 18th century works, mostly from Palazzo d’Adda. Lastly, the collection of maiolica pottery dedicated to Francesco Franchi is one of remarkable importance. Recently, the museum has acquired the Remogna collection, which includes paintings by Camillo Procaccini and Giambettino Cignaroli.

For info and reservations: +39 0163 51424

Alagna and Walser

Alagna Valsesia is an ancient Municipality of Valsesia, which rises right at the foot of the Monte Rosa massif, at about 1200 meters. s.l.m. The charming village is rich in history, tradition and unspoiled natural environments.

The toponym “Alagna" appears only in 1500. At the beginning of its history there was not a single inhabited nucleus, but a group of hamlets, known as the Community of “Pietre Gemelle". Before the arrival of the Walser settlers, at the beginning of the 12th century this is the last village of the “Val Grande” that appears to be permanently inhabited.

The local population has Germanic origins, in fact the name Alagna derives from the German “Land” (land, village), in fact the ancient name of the village was “Im Land". The Walser colonies that populate this territory constitute the backbone of Alagna, defining its architecture, habits, culture and tradition. The typical houses in wood and stone, that characterize the whole of land, can be visited with short walks from the village center and it is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself completely in the history of Alagna Valsesia.

The testimonies of Walser traditions and culture are well preserved in the “Ecomuseo”, designed to preserve the memory of places and the habits and customs of the past. In the hamlet of “Pedemonte”, we find the “Walser Museum”, where we can admire a large number of objects, tools and fabrics displayed inside a seventeenth-century house, whose purpose is to describe the lifestyle and habits of the Walser population.

Alagna is included in the area of ​​the “Alta Valsesia” Natural Park, established in 1979, recognized as the highest park in Europe, reaching 4,554 meters at the “Punta Gnifetti”.

The Museum | Laboratory of Artificial Marble of Rima

Located in the village of Rima, in the Municipality of Alto Sermenza, the Museum of Artificial Marble is set in a wooden ancient house of Walser design, where it is possible to participate to training courses to learn more about this unique material that has its origins in 17th century and became famous throughout Europe in 19th century thanks to its large-scale use.

The European and Extra-European Courts used to commission Artificial Marble decorations to the artisans of Rima, so they had to emigrate for long time. This particular material, at that time, was cheaper than the natural marble even if it took a lot of time to be realized: to obtain one square meter of Artificial Marble, it takes up to 12 working hours.

The purpose of the association of Artificial Marble is to make the artists, by teaching them the manufacturing process, capable to revitalize, in the future, the activities connected to this unique material like restoration as well as new applications for interior decorations and architectural structures.

For guided tours: + 39 340.5488376 –  + 39 340.3922189

For training courses: +39 346-32.47.528

Church of Mary’s Assumption in Ferrate

The Church of Mary’s Assumption in Ferrate with its belltower is located in the village of Ferrate in the Municipality of Alto Sermenza. A small painting of the Virgin, preserved in the church behind an iron grille, might have been protagonist of a miracle which gave the church its actual name.

The legend tells that one day the painting was found in the area outside the chapel, than it has been replaced but, day after day, it continued to be found on the ground in front of its regular location, this kept happening even when an iron grille was placed on the chapel. The Friars suggested that the sacred icon was sending a clear message from the Vergin to find another location, so they decided to build the first nucleus of the church where it is still placed today.

The interior walls are decorated with frescoes of 15th century depicting the Saints, and an altarpiece is placed on the high altar and it’s composed by two paintings portraying San Giovanni Battista, San Giacomo and the “Virgin and Child” in the middle. In 1690 the papers mention another altarpiece where are located the following figures starting from below: the sculptures of Mary’s Assumption, San Giovanni Battista and San Giovanni Evangelista, a painting of a Nativity on the top, on each side, the Annunciation, the Vergin and, on the lateral columns, San Giuseppe and Sant’Agata. The author of this masterpiece is unknown but researchers tent to compare it, for its style, to the sculptor of the altarpiece located in the Church of Rossa.

In the Church of Mary’s Assumption are also preserved some valuable wooden ornaments and a Via Crucis (dating back to 1943 which replaced the previous one of 16th century) and a Cantoria with Harmonium of 17th century.

The art paths of Valsermenza

In Valsermenza you can discover some amazing foot paths that hide historical and artistic treasures of great value as ancient chapels, votive aedicules and painted oratories. The trails are accessible for everyone without sport preparation and they fascinate trekking and art lovers at the same time.

The trails have been signed by the “CAI” section of Varallo and they are the following:

  • Boccioleto – Alpe Seccio
  • Piaggiogna of Boccioleto – Madonna del Sasso
  • Rossa – Alpe sull’oro
  • Cerva di Rossa – Alpe Lavaggi

Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie – Varallo

The church is located at the foot of the slope that leads from Piazza G. Ferrari to the Sacro Monte and it’s linked to the convent that hosts the Generalate of the Order of the Missionary Sisters of Jesus the Eternal Priest.

The building presents the architectural characteristics of the Franciscan convent churches, with a vast dividing wall which had the function of separating the space reserved for the friars from the one open to the faithful.

The church, built almost simultaneously with the architectural complex of the Sacro Monte on the initiative of Bernardino Caimi, was built starting from 1486.

​​In 1493 it was almost completed since it is mentioned in the act by which the Vicinity of Varallo donated to Calmi the convent with the church and the site of the Sacro Monte.

The interior of the church is intimate and suggestive and the large wall catches immediately the visitor’s eye, which represents one of the most important Valsesian masterpieces. It measures 10.40 m in width and 8 m. in height and is divided into twenty compartments that surround the central scene of the Crucifixion.

The people of Varallo at the beginning of the sixteenth century entrusted Gaudenzio Ferrari with the task of painting the Life of Jesus.

The artist depicted the Annunciation, the Nativity of Jesus, the Adoration of the Magi, the Flight into Egypt, the Baptism of Jesus, the resurrection of Lazarus, the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles, the prayer in the garden of olives, the capture of Jesus, Jesus before Herod, Jesus before Pilate , the Flagellation, Jesus brought back by Pilate, the Ascent to Calvary, the Preparation of the cross, the Deposition, the Descent to Limbo and the Resurrection.

The central fresco is the representation of Jesus Crucified that stands out with intense drama.

In the upper part of the wall, in a central position, the image of the Prophet Isaiah is reproduced, while in the lower part, between the two middle pillars, the two “tondi” with San Bernardino da Siena and San Francesco d’Assisi stand out, closed at the bottom from Ecce Homo and Santa Veronica.

Under the “Parete Gaudenziana” there are three arches.

The central one leads into the presbytery, where you can admire the veneered altar, careful carving and cabinet-making, built in 1772 by de Vìncenzi, known as the French according to Antonio Orgiazzi’s design.

Opening hours: weekdays 6.30-12.00 15.00-18.30.

Holy Mass Hours: weekdays 7.30 a.m., Saturday 5.30 p.m., Sunday 9.00 a.m.

The “Torba” of Dorca

The “Torba” of Dorca, a little village in the Municipality of Alto Sermenza, is a Walser house dating back to the 15th century and it has been restored between 2011 and 2012, from the Municipality of Rimasco and the Mountain Community of Valsesia, in order to use the structure as a museum in the future.

The building is one of the most ancient of Dorca, the village is located at 1272 meters and it’s reachable on foot in about 40 minutes. The upper block of the structure is realized with “block-bau” technique, as evidence of its Walser origin. The ground floor, made in stone, housed the stable and the “truna” (a traditional room dedicated to the maturing of cheese).

The two floors are separated by an interspace in which a system of flared pillars disposed on three rows supports the upper wooden part. The first floor was used as storehouse, room for the threshing of cereal grains and hay storage. At the moment, the “Torba” can be admired only from the outside.

Sanctuary of “Madonna delle Grazie” of Rima

Also called the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Graces, the sanctuary stands at the entrance of the village of Rima, a locality of the new Municipality of Alto Sermenza. The sacred building was built between the year 1400 and 1481; originally, the chapel was very small and equipped with a masonry altar.

During the 17th century the primitive chapel was enlarged with the addition of the portico, the raising of a nave covered with a vault and became dear to popular devotion for the fact of preserving a beautiful wooden sculpture of the Virgin, dating back to the 15th century.

In 1688 the new choir was built destroying the old chapel.

Only a fragment of the fresco campaign carried out by the De Campo workshop survived to the demolition, the small surviving fresco represents the Coronation of the Virgin. In 1742, the chapel of the Virgin of Sorrows was added on the right side of the choir, together with the sacristy and the ossuary.

The object of the cult was a painted wooden statue, depicting the Madonna and Child with angels of the 17th century unfortunately stolen.

The chapel of the Virgin of Sorrows was frescoed in the 1770s by Lorenzo Peracino of Cellio: on the altar he made the Deposition from the cross; in the vault, he painted the Glory of the angels with the tools of the Passion; in the plumes of the vault, finally, the images of the four Evangelists. The inlaid wooden choir is noteworthy.

Inside the Sanctuary there are frescoes made by Luca de Campis from the 15th century and Antonio d’Enrico from the 17th century and a relic of San Benigno of Dijon.

Currently the sanctuary is a cult complex which includes, in addition to the oratory, the chaplain’s home, the bell tower and the guesthouse.

The church can be visited only on August 15, in the occasion of the procession dedicated to the Feast of the Assumption.

In August, in fact, an intense religious ceremony of ancient origin takes place and the faithful of the community of Rima, who participate in the rite, wear the traditional Walser costumes.

The Sacro Monte of Varallo

The Sacro Monte was built by initiative of Beato Bernardino Caimi, that, on his return from the Holy Land at the end of 13th century, decided to recreate, in a small version, the places of Palestina. San Carlo Borromeo was interested and involved in the project and he gave fresh impetus to the masterpiece and named it “The New Jerusalem”.

The building complex is composed by about fifty chapels and it has been completed in two centuries. Each chapel shows scenes of Jesus’s and Mary’s lives, with frescoes (about 4.000 figures) and groups of statues (about 400 pieces).

Among the most significative participant artists, which worked on the project, emerges Gaudenzio Ferrari, who cooperated with the founder to start the Sacro Monte: the impressive “Crucifixion Chapel” was made by the famous painter.

The Sacro Monte of Varallo is unique in its kind thanks to the beauty of the location and the witnesses of faith and art.

For info and reservations of guided tours:   +39 0163 51131 –  +39 348 2444716

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