Places to visit in the mountains

The Vigezzo Valley is a broad valley that, crossing seven villages, opens itself before reaching the Swiss border. The morphology of the area is also an access point to the Val Grande National Park, the largest wilderness area in Italy.

Also known as the Valley of Painters, it has produced many artists and inspired landscape and portrait painters who left their mark on the votive chapels and churches with religious subjects on frescoes and canvas. The finest example is to be seen in the impressive Re Sanctuary, a Gothic-Byzantine pilgrimage church dedicated to the Madonna of the Blood who made herself known through a miracle in 1494.

Once the capital of the valley, Santa Maria Maggiore is today a holiday centre and home to the “Rossetti ValentiniSchool of Fine Arts and the Chimney Sweep Museum that witnesses the trade that for centuries provided a livelihood for local emigrants to other countries and celebrated on September in the Chimney Sweepers Convention.

The whole valley is served by the Vigezzina historical blue train (also known as the Centovalli train in Switzerland), a 32 miles railway line that includes 83 bridges and 31 tunnels and connects Domodossola with the Swiss town of Locarno offering breathtaking scenery.

This area can boast a rich eno-gastronomic tradition thanks to wide range of salamis (among them it is well-known the raw ham of the Vigezzo Valley), high quality honey, desserts, jams and grappa.