Located north of Lake Iseo, the valley continues along, following the course of the Oglio River and marking the northern boundary of the province of Brescia.
Perhaps the only one of its kind, the Valley Camonica offers visitors two opposing views of itself, like two sides of a coin. The seasons “dress” it in the white snow in winter and the vibrant green of the woods and the sunny valleys in warmer months; in both cases, the tourist enjoys the excellent services provided by the tourist facilities available, taking in every curve, every corner of a sensational and thrilling spectacle that is always new. An area that had previously been isolated and sealed off is now open, revealing a perfectly preserved, wild nature, where the local residents have successfully achieved a healthy balance between their communities and the rhythms of the surrounding nature, while at the same time protecting it and drawing on its invaluable natural resources.
The residents have understood how to use and harness the natural elements, while respecting the environment and understanding that a flower picked today or rubbish left tomorrow not only spoils nature but detracts from their own quality of life and the enjoyment of visitors to the area. In the winter, the tourist can “custom design” his or her own personal holiday, choosing between the challenging ski slopes (yet still accessible to less expert skiers) of Tonale-Presena, Aprica, Borno and Montecampione resorts or the rest and relaxation offered by Ponte di Legno, one of the oldest and longest established skiing areas in Italy. In addition, there are numerous other opportunities: sled dogs for the brave at heart, or the thrill of speed on snowmobiles. In Valley Camonica, no one will be left disappointed, not even traditional sports enthusiasts who can choose from among the numerous cross country ski trails or a brisk walk through the “ciaspole” taking routes that weave in and out of pristine, centuries-old woods. Starting from the two main mineral springs locales, Darfo Boario and Angolo, the green spring-time guise of the Valley Camonica highlights its special pearls, the Stelvio National Park and the Regional Park of the Adamello, where the bald eagle dominates over the other animals from its tree-top lookout, majestically silhouetted by a clear and limpid sky. Other inhabitants of the area are mountain goats and deer, ibex that populate the higher elevations, as well as foxes, badgers, woodchucks and the innumerable other woodland creatures that often peek out to greet visitors. In the summer, the tourist can take advantage of the wild beauty offered by the Valley Camonica and its tourist facilities, which are carefully organized to respect nature. All the parks are equipped for visitors; the trails that in winter are used by cross-country skiers, in the summer become beautiful walking trails, secluded in the silence and surrounded by the colours of nature, for challenging or undemanding walks, depending on the mood of the tourist. From Conca di Montozzo, which still preserves the vestiges of World War II emplacements, to the highlands of Ercavallo-Case di Viso whose more than 1,000 kilometers of trails form a variety of unbelievably beautiful footpaths. And for visitors who are less keen on nature and sports, the Valley Camonica gives them several alternatives: the history and art that have marked the area represent a treasure trove of works of art, often sprinkled here and there, almost by chance, perfectly integrated into the surrounding nature. How could we neglect to mention the splendid prehistoric etchings of Capo di Ponte, whose integrity and protection are ensured by UNESCO’s naming as a “World Heritage of Humanity”. A few kilometres away, in Cividate Camuno antica Civita Camunorum, practically unknown to the general public, we find one of the only three statues known in the world depicting Minerva, enshrouded in the suggestive atmosphere of the Roman amphitheatre with its archaeological area open to the public. Exquisite in their simplicity, the 200 full-scale statues stand solemnly in a single file along the via Crucis in Cerveno. Making our way from Pisogne to Breno, with its 14th century Church of S. Antonio, until the Bienno along the Via del Romanino at the end of the road, the route is dotted with medieval villages and Roman-era churches. The Pieve di Esine is a delight to the eyes, standing with its splendid frescoes by G.Pietro da Cemmo. Visitors may also want to visit the hubs of industrial archaeology, such as the drop presses, mill and smithy in Bienno.Satiating our intellectual appetites, we now have to satiate our appetite for delicious food and drink. The Valley Camonica will not disappoint its culinary-minded tourists, who will easily find the “casoncelli”, small Alpine huts where farmers still make products the old-fashioned way, such as butter, cheese and superior quality cured meats.