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 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.
A 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
They 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.