If you love cultural holidays, with many things to see and discover, we warmly recommend visiting the surrounds of Madonna di Campiglio. Val Rendena is rich in art and history, with influences coming both from the Italian and the Germanic world. Sacred art is an example of this – the many churches and chapels dotted around the valley have typically Alpine architecture, with solid stone walls and heavily sloped roofs. However, inside, they hide artistic treasures with ties to the Italian and Lombard tradition.
The Baschenis, travelling artists
Most of the sacred buildings you’ll find in the valley were decorated with frescoes by members of the Baschenis family. Originating from the Valle Averara (known today as Val Brembana, in the province of Bergamo), the Baschenis were a family of itinerant artists. At the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, they crossed the Giudicarie, Val Rendena, Val di Sole and Val di Non painting dozens of churches. Their style is late Gothic, perfect to fulfil the narrative and didactic function sought by their clients at the time.
The Church of San Vigilio in Pinzolo and the Macabre Dance
Romanesque and Gothic features combine in the church of San Vigilio in Pinzolo. Built in the 14th century on the remains of a pre-existing church, it was extended further two centuries later, until it reached its present size. It is famous throughout the world for the Macabre Dance, a fresco cycle completed by Simone Baschenis in 1539, which decorates the south side of the church. The topic, found all over northern Europe but also present in France and Portugal, represents the equality of all people in front of death.
The Church of Santo Stefano in Carisolo
We can admire another Macabre Dance, also painted by Simone Baschenis, on the southern wall of the cemetery church of Santo Stefano in Carisolo. Perched on a granite cliff overlooking the valley, tradition has it that the church was erected on the ruins of a pre-existing castle destroyed by Charlemagne. The structure is of Romanesque origin, with later Gothic extensions.
The Church of Sant’Antonio Abate in Pelugo
The fresco with Sant’Antonio Abate that decorates the church of the same name in Pelugo is the work of Cristoforo Baschenis, Simone’s brother. This church, dating back to the 15th century, is peculiar because of its architecture – you’ll notice a sharp contrast between the horizontality of the building, developed in a single nave covered by a low, sloping roof, and the vertical bell tower, rising thin and slender, covered by a pyramid-shaped roof. According to tradition, this was the first parish church in Val Rendena.
Other sacred places in Val Rendena
There are so many places where sacred art can be admired in Val Rendena – here, we just told you about the main ones. We would also like to mention the small church of San Martino in Carisolo, built by a hermit in the 14th century, the church of Sant’Antonio and that of San Giovanni Battista, both painted by Simone Baschenis, the small church-sanctuary dedicated to San Giuliano di Cilicia, on the shores of Lake San Giuliano, and the church of Santa Maria Antica, with an ancient wooden Crucifix dating back to the 12th century.
In the “Experience” section of our website, you will find suggestions for many cultural experiences to enjoy in Val Rendena – from castles to villages, adventures and so much more, to make your holiday truly unforgettable.