Stresa & Lake Maggiore Day Tours: Vigezzo Valley, Alps. The village of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Chimney Sweep Museum. Ossola Valley, Italian Alps
A full-day guided tour from Stresa and lake Maggiore accompanied by an experienced local guide
- VIGEZZO VALLEY AND SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE
Vigezzo Valley links Domodossola to Lake Maggiore and to Switzerland. This valley is picturesque in either summer or winter when it is covered in snow.
There are some cute villages along the valley. In the summer months population rises a lot due to many tourists accommodated in the hotels and in their holiday homes. Vigezzo Valley is known as "The Painters' Valley" because it has produced many outstanding painters. In the 19th century one of them, Rossetti Valentini, opened a School of Fine Arts in Santa Maria Maggiore to help other young people to learn a job. The School soon became renowned and it contributed to the formation of other good painters. Many churches in this valley, as well as in other towns and countries, bear witness to their talent. This lovely little village also houses a peculiar museum, said to be the only one of its kind in the world: "The Chimney Sweep Museum". In fact, another nickname for Vigezzo Valley is "The "Chimneysweepers' Valley", since chimney-sweeping was the traditional activity in the past centuries when a lot of men and even children migrated to big cities all over Europe to work as chimney sweepers in winter. The valley was very poor in those days and the local museum tells about the hard life of those people and unlucky children and some working tools are exhibited on two floors.
Every year, in September, the Chimneysweeper's Festival takes place in Santa Maria Maggiore and on that occasion groups and associations come from many different countries and gather in the valley. Then they all take part in an unusual and funny parade. Curious to know that the famous perfume, Eau de Cologne, was invented in the 18th century by two emigrants from this valley called Feminis and Farina who went out to Germany.
In the village of Santa Maria Maggiore - just like in the rest of Ossola - the traditional architecture of the valley is evident: houses with roofs covered with local stone, i.e., Beola (gneiss rock) and high chimneys, the highest in the area. In the dainty village centre is the church of Santa Maria Assunta that was built between 1734 and 1743. Inside are beautiful frescoes by the local painters Lorenzo Peretti and Giuseppe Maria Borgnis.
Travelling on the scenic Centovalli train is the best way to visit this valley (for further information please click on the following link: Domodossola and the scenic Centovalli / Vigezzina train to Locarno). Instead of visiting Domodossola, in the morning we take an earlier train from there and stop halfway at Santa Maria Maggiore before getting to Locarno.
CLASSIC FULL-DAY ITINERARY
In the morning we get to Domodossola on the local train or by coach. We take the Centovalli train as far as Santa Maria Maggiore where we stop. Visit to the village and to the Chimney Sweep Museum.
Free time for your lunch in the village where there are bars and restaurants. After lunch we take the Centovalli train and get to Locarno in Switzerland. Visit to Locarno and then coach or boat back to your lakeside resort.
For a description of Locarno, please refer to the following link: Cannobio and Locarno
A different itinerary may be designed, e.g., Vigezzo Valley in the morning and tour of Domodossola in the afternoon.
If you are a group and wish to have lunch together, you can arrange a fixed menu for a group lunch in advance (tailored to your taste and budget)