The Valtrompia is a land of contrasts, at the lower end its iron and steelworks and related industries form the pump of the Brescian economy, while the middle and upper valley is where the industries thin out and are replaced by woods, peaks, nature and peace.
The hypothetical divide between these two is Gardone Valtrompia, internationally famous for its production of arms.
For almost five hundred years the name of Gardone Valtrompia (the largest town in the valley) has been linked to the production of armour and firearms.
Since Brescia was part of the Venetian Republic, which encouraged such production, the arms produced here have been considered among the best in the world.
The Ancient Arms Museum in Brescia describes the history of its products where hundreds of examples are displayed. Even today, Gardone is the largest producer of hunting guns and small arms in Italy.
The parish church of San Marco should be visited for its 17th and 18th century paintings, and the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, built in the 15th century on the wish of San Bernardino da Siena, for its cloister and frescoes by Paolo da Caylina il Vecchio.
The Pope’s house
Pope Paul VI was born in Concesio at the entrance to the valley.
Bovegno is at a height of 684 m so is suitable for mountain lovers who suffer from excessive altitude.
The old part of the village is called Castello where the parish church of S. Giorgio is found among the austere houses. The church has a fine wooden altar by Pialorsi and admirable paintings.
The San Martino hill behind, where the remains of the Castle can be seen, and a 16th century Sanctuary offer plenty of scope for walks while more difficult climbs can be made on Monte Muffetto, Monte Ario or up to Colma di Marcuolo.
Originally known for its iron mines and silverbearing lead, today Collio is the largest winter sports centre in the valley.
From the beginning of winter until late spring one can ski from Collio, passing through S. Colombano, as far as Maniva (see “Sport”). In summer Collio is a starting point for pleasant excursions such as up to Corna Blacca, Monte Colombine, Maniva and Cima Caldoline.
In middle and upper Valtrompia, in villages or standing apart on the slopes, many old farmhouses can be found which reflect a way of life which has now almost disappeared.
They are often arranged around a central courtyard with a barn, stall, outhouses and wood stall; made of stone, they sometimes have iron-scrolling over the windows and frescoes on the façade. Polaveno is the best preserved farming centre in the valley but attractive farmhouses can be seen at Marcheno and in the small villages around it, Lodrino, Dimmo, Pezzaze valley and in Val Marmentino.
Outings in the mountains
There are many well signed paths through the woods at the bottom of the valley, in the pastures half-way up and around mountains. Monte Guglielmo in particular (1949 m) has dozens of paths.
For those who like the high mountains, there are Corna Blacca (typical Dolomite mountain), Colombine, Dosso Alto and Muffetto.
Other routes guide the visitor around old villages, for example, Cimmo at the food of Monte Stalletti, and interesting parts of the countryside.
Finally, there are spectacular ski-runs open until late spring at Maniva and on Monte Guglielmo it is available on and off skiing.