Pinzolo and Val Rendena



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Pinzolo and Val Rendena history

The history of Val Rendena began during the Bronze Age, when the first human settlements took place, nowadays identifiable by the community castles of  Massimeno, Giustino, Pelugo and Verdesina.

The valley was inhabitated by Celtic and Rhaetian people, then involved in the Roman conquest of the territory. In the dark ages the documents didn’t allow a precise response, as to mix up with the legend and the tales of the oral  tradition.

For example, the origin of the Spiazzo Rendena village appears linked to the presence of a sanctuary built in the memory of the martyrdom of San Vigilio in that place. He was a Trentino bishop who lived at the beginning of 400 and that went to Rendena to evangelize the still faithful people to the pre-Christian religion of Saturno and other gods.


The Frankish period is characterized by a suggestive tradition, even if never testify, according to which in 774 the Germanic Emperor Carlo Magno would pass from here, towards Italy  with his army.


He would have pulled down the castles of Carisolo and Pelugo and replaced them with some little churches. The legend of the frescoe is iconographically confirmed in the Sixteenth century frescoes of the little church of Santo Stefano in Carisolo and it can be fund in the toponym of “Campo Carlo Magno Pass” in Madonna di Campiglio.

The political events of Rendena and Giudicarie, subjected to the administration of the episcopal principality of Trento from 1027, have always been conditional on abroad events strongly. Besides the violent intrusions and the battles between Lombard and Veneto lordships that bore on its destiny too, the proximity with the Italian world created a continuos tradition of economic relationships with the realities of the Painura Padana area.


These relationships had also effects on the artistic experiences that brought in Rendena, among the others, the Baschenis: they were a family of itinerant artists, that from the half the Fifteenth century to the half of the Sixteenth century left significant signs of their art on the walls of many churches of the valley.


The plague arrived in Pinzolo and in Val Rendena in 1630: it caused the death and the poverty of the people. A big part of the adult men had to find a hope for their families elsewhere.



The emigration


The grinder, “As we were” in CaderzoneThe emigration marked the history of  Val Rendena.

The exodus of thousands of its inhabitants continued till after the second World War, when the economic boom had effects on the valley too, bringing great tourist streams and improving the life conditions of the resident people.

At the beginning of the Twentieth century there was a great emigration, exporting real professionalisms: the people from Rendena became grinders (called “moleti” – there is a monument dedicated to them at the beginning of the Pinzolo village), sawyers (wood workers) and peole selling cold cuts and went to the United States, Argentina, Canada and in many European states.


Since the beginning of the Nineteeth century , people started from Strembo to Mantova  and to the land cities to sell their sausages  and in particular the tasty  “salam da l’ai” (garlic salami) from All Saints’ Day “ in November to the Lent , then they came back to  Rendena to work the fields and wating for the stock-breeding. 

This specialized emigration brought with it the coinage of a job slang – the “taron”  - a speech used inside this community abroad for not making understand their trade.


The soldier, “As we were” in CaderzoneA recent chapter of the Rendena history is the First World War (1915-1918) fought on the Adamello glacier (from which the words “white war” comes) at an altitude beyond 3000 meters with the array of the Austrian army that faced the Italian enemy. The Austrian- Hungarian command of the group of the forces in the Adamello was established in Pinzolo


At that time the village was still the destination of a pioneering summer tourism,  climbing and crossing the Adamello-Presanella range and the Brenta Dolomites.

In 1864 Julius von Payer conquered the “Cima Adamello”, the “Corno Bianco” and the “Corno di Cavento”  and, as he was a geographer and a climber, made an updated cartography of the Brenta Dolomites.


Moreover, in Pinzolo the first section of the Alpine Rescue was founded in the end of the Nineenth century by  Nepomuceno Bolognini (one of the most famous figures of the Trentino Risorgimento) and Prospero Marchetti.

The Bolognini was also an expert of the Rendena culture: he made a kind of encyclopedia of tales, legends and traditions.





In the end of the last century, at the beginning of Val Genova in Carisolo, the "glass factory" of Bolognini family was working. Its structure have been well-preseved till today. Val Rendena economy was however characterized by other kinds of production: wood carving (craft and small industry), stock-breeding, a very little agricultural production (mainly potatoes).

In the valley in 1712, some progenitor cows of Rendena breed were imported from Switzerland; they were particularly easy-fitting at the poor ground and rich in milk; today they are one of the most famous and important breed of the territory.




The name of San Vigilio recurs in Rendena art places often.

In Pinzolo there is the cemetery church dedicated to him: it was built before the year one thousand just northward Pinzolo, restored in the Sixteen century and widened in 1515. Between 1539 and 1548 the southern facade of the church was frescoed by Simone Baschenis di Averaria with Danza Macabra: 40 figures depicted on a wall 21 mt long, with poetical captions in vernacular


"Danza Macabra", S.Vigilio Church, PinzoloThey are the skeletons that warn with a death message the symbols of power and the vanity of the medieval man's values: the Pope, the cardinal, the king, the richness, youth and beauty.

Danza Macabra shows the idea that all people are equal in front of death. But there is also a message of life: death is not seen only as an invincible power, but as something that has been won by Christ's sacrifice and by the merits of all men who do good.


Documents found in San Vigilio cemetery confirm that life in Pinzolo in those times was intensely influenced by "Battuti" confraternity, a religious brotherhood of laymen devoted to a spirituality made of long prayers, harsh penances and social/charitable acts (the confraternity was broken up only in 1820). Its activity highlights the culture, the religion and the society of Pinzolo: a kind of liveliness and independence of laymen by the church authority and a central postion of man in the society. According to tradition, the Confraternity commissioned the Cinquecento frescos - and in particular the two Danza Macabra paintings - on the outer facades of the little churches of San Vigilio in Pinzolo and Santo Stefano in Carisolo.



Churches and sanctuaries


Carisolo, S. Martino church


It has medieval origin - documented from 1312 - and it was guarded by an hermit till 1850. According to the popular tales, this hermit was maintained by the charity of the faithful. He died in a freezing cold day of January and the local plants bloomed to inform people of the hermit death.


Carisolo, S. Stefano church


Santo Stefano Church, CarisoloIn the artistic temporary period from Gothic to Renaissance, many religious buildings in Trentino were frescoed by Baschenis family from Averaria.

For more than eighty years, from 1474 to 1555, Baschenis painted thechurches facades and interior. The aim of both personages that commissioned the works and the artists was to educate people through images, exhorting a life far away from sin through a kind of medieval “biblia pauperum


S. Stefano church is an evocative church on a rock crag, overlooking the whole valley.

The southern part is entirely frescoed by Simone Baschenis paintings; Danza Macabra is the main subject, together with the seven deadly sins (1519-1532).

Inside, there are frescos of varied periods like San Cristoforo depiction, on the left side of the outer steps.

The church is gothic on Romanesque strucutre, and has a bell tower with Romanesque mullioned window with two lights. According to tradition, it was built in an area where previously a castle was destroyed by Carlo Magno. 


Pinzolo, San Vigilio church


S.Vigilio Church, PinzoloIt was founded in 1362 and then widened in 1515. It has a rectangular map with three

naves, arches and pointed vaults on granite columns.

The medieval facade has different frescos: the most important is Danza Macabra, that is also on the outer facade of Santo Stefano church in Carisolo.

Both the frescos were realized by the painter Simone II Baschenis di Averaria, who lived between 1490 and 1555 and is considered the most famous and important painter of Baschenis family, that painted many churches in Trentino between the half of 1400 and 1500.

The fresco of Pinzolo is more than 2 metres high and more than 22 metres long, with captions in local dialects and vernacular: it is a sort of monologue acted only by the dead, that invites the living to come in the dance.


The procession of danza Macabra starts on the left, with the figure of Death playing the bagpipes: seated on a kind of throne, it is crowned to symbolize its absolute supremacy on the whole mankind. Then there are 18 figures of different religious and social categories, like a Pope, a cardinal, a bishop,a priest,a friar, an imperator,a king, a queen and a duke. Then a doctor, a warrior, a vain young, a beggar, a nun, a lady and a child. Each of these figures has his own skeleton and a writing in verse.

On the right there is Death, depicted as a skeleton with a quiver full of arrows that rides a winged white horse treading on the dead bodies on the ground. In the last part of the painting there are S. Michele archangel and the Devil.

The whole fresco is characterized by a particular attention to the details and a variety in the attitudes and expressions of the mocking skeletons.

The painting was ended in October 1539 and, together with the other frescos inside the church of San Vigilio (dated 1539 as well), they represent the main pictorial whole by Simone II Baschenis di Averaria


Massimeno, S. Giovanni Battista medieval church

From the little square of the village, along a little road with walnuts, you can reach  S. Giovanni Battista church, one of the characteristic cultural element of Rendena valley.

It is a medieval church, restored in the Sixteen century and frescoed by Simone Baschenis.

On the main facade there is a big granite portal with a cross carved in the lintel; on the left there is S. Cristoforo fresco with saints and

the Rendena landsape in the background.

Above the portal there is a Madonna with Child and angels, the saints Antonio Abate and Giovanni Battista (S. Baschenis).


San Giovanni Battista church: 1)Facade 2) Walled-in stoupIn the frame below there the date 1553 and the memory of the rebuilding in 1964 made by Massimeno municipality to" Francesco Comiti muratore comasco” (Como bricklayer).

The walled-in granite stoup is linked to a singular legend: people that wanted to have a baby had to put their head into the hole.

The placed where the church is placed is called "Castèl": according the popular tradition, on the plain just above at 890 mt there was the original village of Massimeno, then destroyed by a landslide or a fire. It was probably an area of a prehistoric fort, as indicated by the toponyms "Guardia" (guard) and "Torre" (tower).


Caderzone, S. Giuliano di Cilicia church (1292), at mt 1941

On the eastern shore of S. Giuliano lake there is the sanctuary-church dedicated to S. Giuliano di Cilicia. The church, yet famous for its spring of "good water for fever", was guarded by an hermit in the past.

The first document of the church is dated 1292. It is supposed that the church was rebuilt in 1488 by Lodron family in the place where, according to tradition, S. Giuiano retired to expiate the killing of his parents-in-low due to a tragic error of gelosy for her wife.

The present  church was built in 1868.

During the summers from 1649 to 1654, the prince bishop Carlo Emanuele Madruzzo liked to stay in the building near the little church.


Pelugo, S. Antonio Abate church, frescos by Baschenis, 1474

The works of Baschenis, the itinerant painters from Bergamo, started in S. Antonio Abate church in Pelugo, where Cristoforo, the first of the dinasty to come in Trentino, painted an important fresco of S. Anotnio Abate above the church portal in 1474. This work was finished with the help of his brother Simone: for the first time in St. Antonio Abate church there is a cycle dedicated to only one topic with many images and vernacular captions.

The church has a wide nave and a peculiar Romanesque bell tower with Ghibelline cusp.



Madonna di Campiglio, Santa Maria Antica church

The first historic news on Madonna di Campiglio date back to 1188 and are written in a letter addressed to Corrado II from Beseno, bishop of Trento. In that times, around 1180, a certain Raimondo built in the area a little hospice "for his soul, paying homage to the Holy Vergin Mary, God Mother, in aid of the poor and in defence of the passersby at Monte Campiglio, in a solitary place where often who was passing were plundered and killed".

Soon, thanks to the many donations of the believers, the hospice was extended and donated to a chapel dedicated to the Holy Mary , from which the house and the resort took the name.



Santa Maria Antica church, Madonna di Campiglio

During the centuries many pilgrims were hosted and nourished in this church with great generosity.

The original chapel was changed into a very beautiful sanctuary with three naves and three altar; in 1895,  it was demolished beause crumbling. It was replaced with the present mountain church in neo-ghotic style, all made in local granite, opened on 16th August 1895.

The Habsburg House chose Madonna di Campiglio as its summer resort. The Emperor Francesco Giuseppe himself donated the pulpit , the confessional (the name of the Emperor is written in Italian and in German), the wooden walls of the choir area with the popular saints figures and some beautiful windows to the church.

On a window the apostle S. Bartolomeo is represented, patron of the parish, with the knife of hid martyrdom, while on another window there is Carlo Magno (who was worshipped as a saint by some German dioceses and to whom the nearby Pass is dedicated).

On the floor there is Franz Joseph Oesterreicher tomb (1848-1909), natural child - it is said - of the Austrian Emperor.  On the pews the name of the donators are written, as that of the Righi family: Gian Battista Righi was the pioneer and the main supporter of the tourist development of Madonna di Campiglio.

In Santa Maria Antica, the are many important artistic elements: 

    1. The old crucifix, in nordic style, on the Presbitery arch dating back to the twelfth century.

    2. The beautiful triptych of the Madonna with Child and Saints (S. Barbara and S. Caterina .

    3. The wooden sculpure of the “Vergin of the fic tree”, dating back to the fourteenth century.

Madonna di Campiglio, Santa Maria Nuova church

Near the ancient chapel there is the new church: it was built in 1970-72, based on the project by the architect Marcello Armani, who managed to balance liturgy with modernity. Inside it has a peculiar circular shape sloping to the altar.
Campiglio has been chosen as the site of the "Madonna of Europe", hope and symbol of the spiritual and moral unification of the continent. The canvas blessed by Giovanni XXII was by the Spanish painter Joaguin de Angulo y Garcia: it reproduce a fresco dated back to 1502, which is in Algeciras (Gibraltar). The effigy is now shown in the church in Campo carlo amgno, built in 1997.

S. Antonio di Mavignola, S. Antonio church


Fresco on the portal of  S. Antonio church, S. Antonio di MavignolaThe church has some frescos by Cristoforo Baschenis (sixteenth century) and other frescos on the facade, probably, by another painter (1481).

The facade is beautifully frescoed: the Deposition is in the big ghotic lunette, on the sides six saints and the date 1481. The church is frescoed also inside.  


Legends and tradition


The popular culture of Rendena cherishes some very old literary features, as the praises called "laudi" by the medieval confraternity of "Battuti", the popular love songs, the "maitinade" (the poems that lovers made in the morning), satires, poems and dances.


Nardis waterfall, Val GenovaThere are many tales and beliefsin Val Rendena linked to the Nordic cycles and medieval stories. Among the main topics there are the monster of Nambino lake, the "Volpàt" of Ritorto lake, the bread that doesn't  rise in Mortaso after S. Vigilio death, the jew of Pelugo hanged by Carlo Magno, the treasures guarded by spirits and devils, the witches on Ephiphany night and many others.


The Genova valley, among the most important valleys because of its wild and varied landscapes, always fascinated the mountain people. It is linked to many popular  mysterious legends. According one of these legends, the Council of Trento interned here witches and devils.


Nepomuceno Bolognini, colonel follower of Garibaldi, born in Pinzolo and ethnographic of his land, called the big stones at the beginning of the valley with fairy-tale names.



Palaces, Masi, courtyards and museums

Palazzo Bertelli
via Regina Elena, 45 - CADERZONE
tel. 0465 804214


Maso Curio "ca da mont"
via Regina Elena, 42 - CADERZONE
tel. 0465 804214

Cort da Togno
tel. 0465 801544


The White War in Adamello 1915-1918
Address: Junior high school, Spiazzo Rendena
Phone and Fax: 0465 801544
Description: Sorto nel 1973 per iniziativa di due cugini Giovanni Pellizzari e Sergio Collini in memoria dei soldati caduti durante la Grande Guerra, questo Museo raccoglie e ripropone quanto si è potuto recuperare dai ghiacciai dell'Adamello che la Grande Guerra ha lasciato. Materiale bellico, effetti personali, capi di vestiario, slitte, sci, che unitamente ad una numerosa raccolta di documenti, fotografie e libri offrono al visitatore una documentata informazione dei fatti della Prima Guerra Mondiale. Costituitasi in Associazione Culturale è stata recentemente riconosciuta dalla Provincia di Trento quale Mostra Permanente; attualmente la Mostra è ospitata presso le Scuole Medie di Spiazzo Rendena.

Museo della Malga
Indirizzo: Rione Lodron-Bertelli, Caderzone
Telefono e Fax: 0465 804899
Descrizione: Museo monotematico sul lavoro svolto presso gli alpeggi sparsi sul territorio delle Giudicarie; mette in mostra gli strumenti che il tempo e l'esperienza hanno perfezionato per la lavorazione del latte e dei suoi derivati.
Si articola presso il piano terreno delle scuderie del Rione Lodron-Bertelli a Caderzone in Val Rendena.
Orario di apertura: dal 01/06 al 30/09 ore 15,00-19,00 (lunedì chiuso)
dal 01/10 al 31/05 ore 8,00-12,30 (sabato, domenica, lunedì chiuso)


Centro Glaciologico "Julius Payer"

Centro Glaciologico
Tel. 0461 981871
Il Centro Glaciologico "Julius Payer" al Mandron sull'Adamello, a 2430 m di quota, viene inaugurato nel 1994. Intitolato al Payer, l'ufficiale austriaco che fu tra i primi scalatori dell'Adamello (1864) , è frutto del lavoro della SAT (Società Alpinisti Trentini) con la collaborazione del Museo Trentino di Scienze Naturali. Tra le sue finalità ci sono lo studio e la divulgazione delle conoscenze in campo glaciologico, in particolare del Gruppo Adamello - Presanella. Alestito nel vecchio Rifugio Mandron, presenta una mostra permanente sui ghiacciai e l'ambiente montano. Vi si tengono corsi di studio con la possibilità di soggiorno, grazie all'appoggio del vicino rifugio Città di Trento. Raggiungibile dalla Val di Genova.


contacts - where we are

Office Madonna di Campiglio

+39 0465 447501

Office Pinzolo

+39 0465 501007


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