Local popular tradition has it that the village of Massimeno was originally built on the plateau above the church of San Giovanni. The locality where the church stands is called “Castel”, a place name possibly derived from the ancient Castello Massimo, hence the name Massimeno.
It is the smallest municipality in Trentino and is also one of the most sparsely populated municipalities in the entire Alpine area, due also to the emigration of the first post-war period. The village, uniquely in Val Rendena, is situated on a side terrace of the Sarca river furrow, on the western slopes of Monte della Costa di Nambì (1803 m) and is dominated by a large square looking onto the valley and the Adamello-Presanella massif.
The municipal territory itself is quite large, extending from the valley slopes towards the Sarca river and on to Monte Làres at 3354 metres. Situated at the edge of the terrace is the 1758 Church of Our Lady of Loreto (rebuilt in 1862).
An old mule track winds its way from Massimeno up to the barns at Plan and the Malga Movlina, at an altitude of 1746 metres. The path begins at the fountain in the square and ascends a wooded ridge through a series of hairpin bends. After a small peak, it reaches the Plan barns at an altitude of 1588 metres; continuing along the forest road, the traveller arrives at the Malga Movlina ridge, a balcony of wide pastures with a clear view of the Adamello and the Vallón massif, in the Brenta Dolomites.
Points of interest:
Church of San Giovanni BattistaSmall and isolated atop a plateau overlooking the valley, this church was first documented in the 15th century, arising on the remains of an older, medieval castle (hence the name of this site, dosso del castel, meaning “castle hill”). In the mid-1400s, Antonio Baschenis carried out the decorations of the wing to the left of the transept (an area that runs perpendicular to the church’s nave), works which remain to this day thanks to restoration work over the years. But other members of the Baschenis family have also gotten their hands on this building.
In 1533, Simone II decorated the facade (with his impressively large St. Christopher and two saints and his sacra conversazione above the entrance to welcome visitors) and the left-hand wall of the nave. His son, Filippo (1525-1597) also lent a hand, executing the triptych in the right- hand transept in the second half of the 16th century. As it happens, Filippo may have been the last of the Baschenis family to work in the Rendena valley.
Church of San Luigi Massimeno’s picturesque Church of San Luigi Gonzaga, erected just above the road connecting Massimeno and Bocenago on a small, grassy plateau in the woods, features a frescoed facade depicting St. Aloysius de Gonzaga in prayer. Behind him, the bell tower of the Massimeno parish church is visible. The rest of the church is fairly simple and lacks any significant decoration inside.