Valle Sabbia is in the north eastern part of the province of Brescia and is one of the three large valleys found in the Brescia territory along with Val Trompia and Val Camonica. The ‘Chiese’ river runs through the entire valley, to then form Lake Idro. It is a long valley surrounded by side valleys and wooded mountains.
The valley boasts a rich and diverse morphology, ranging from the Chiese plain near Gavardo, passing through the Pre-Alps of the low and middle valley, reaching the stretch of Lake Idro, where the mountains gradually become more imposing, to finally reach the mountains of Bagolino, where ‘Cornone di Blumore’, the southernmost mountain of the Adamello chain, dominates the landscape at an impressive altitude of 2800 metres.
There are just over 60,000 inhabitants scattered over an area of 700 km2 including 25 municipalities. From an economic point of view, Valle Sabbia boasts a long and consolidated industrial and handicraft tradition (iron, steel, aluminium, mechanics),as well as selected quality farming (production of excellent cheeses, such as Bagòss from Bagolino, delicious organic jams, chestnut honey and tasty cold meats), and a well-established tradition of tourism (Lake Idro, Bagolino and Vallio Terme). In recent years, we have been introducing lesser known destinations to the world of tourism. The territory can ideally be divided into three areas from south to north.
The Lower Valley
The area closest to Lake Garda and the city of Brescia is also the most urbanised. This part of the valley has been devoted to large-scale industry for a long time and thus offers less ‘valley- like’ characteristics than the middle and upper valley. Thi area is closely connected to nearby Lake Garda, bringing the positive effect of a mild climate. The most important museum, the ‘Archaeological Museum’ is found here, host to prehistoric findings as well as artefacts dating back to the Roman age. The parish church in Gavardo is also of great interest, along with the thermal spas in Vallio (an area dedicated to wellness and health situated in a large park), as well as the parish church and fortress of Vobarno. The area of Serle is also noteworthy, famous for the Cariadeghe plateau, where there are caving routes which are unique in Italy (only suitable for experts). The ancient monastery of San Bartolomeo can also be discovered within this territory, along comfortable routes whilst enjoying the scenic views of Lake Garda.
The Middle Valley
Travelling northwards, the valley takes on a more mountainous character and the villages become smaller. Well preserved natural areas and ancient villages are features shared in the side valleys. The industrial and handicraft traits of the area are particularly palpable in Odolo, Vestone and Casto. Also not to be missed are the exceptionally preserved ‘Rocca di Sabbio’ (Sabbio fortress), and the adjoining ‘Museo della civiltà Contadina e dei Mestieri’ (The Museum of Farming Civilisation and Crafts) in Sabbia Chiese and the ‘Museo del ferro – Fucina di Pamparane’ (the Museum of Iron – Pamparane Forge) in Odolo, testimony to the hard work and ingenuity of the industrialization pioneers. The ancient church in San Lino in Agnosine and the parish churches in Bione, Preseglie and ProvaglioV.S. are also worth a visit.
In the nearby town of Casto it is possible to find a frescoed parish church in Alone and a forge where you can discover metal working techniques. Also in the area of Casto, you can venture along fascinating sports and culture routes all found in a natural setting (itineraries exploring ancient forges, cycle paths, trekking and climbing routes). Furthermore, the parish church in Mura, the ruins of the Nozza fortress with the adjoining Church of Santo Stefano as well as the ‘Museo del Lavoro’ (Museum of Labour) in Vestone are not to be missed. The territory of Pertiche is a world apart and which includes the municipalities of Pertica Alta and Pertica Bassa. Here, time seems to stand still amongst the small villages, extensive meadows and rural landscapes. The ancient Church of ‘Sant’Andrea di Barbaine’ and the Forno Fusorio (smelting furnace) in Pertica Alta are also worth visiting, as well as the ancient villages (such as Spessio di Avenone and Ono Degno), the churches (such as San Zenone and the parish church of Levrange) and an interesting museum dedicated to the resistance fighters and folklore of Valle Sabbia (in Pertica Bassa).
The Upper Valley
In this area, the mountains become even more impressive and the populous towns of the valley floor give way to the fresh basin of Lake Idro (or Eridio), an area boasting a long tradition of tourism. This beautiful stretch of water framed by a background of green mountains takes on typically Alpine features compared to other lakes in Lombardy. Twelve kilometres long and two kilometres wide, Lake Idro reaches a maximum depth of 122 m. It is 368 metres above sea level and is surrounded by wooded mountains that exceed altitudes of 1000 metres and for this reason it is considered the coolest lake in Lombardy. With its dominating colours that range from the dark green of the forests to the blue-green teal of the lake, you are immersed in an unspoilt environment, ideal for those wanting to get away from it all. The natural pebble beaches are easily accessible; the Vesta beach (Idro) is especially beautiful and scenic, a paradise of tranquillity with views of the fortress ‘Rocca d’Anfo’ in all its majesty.
The beaches of Crone and Lemprato (Idro), Anfo, Ponte Caffaro and Baitoni (hamlet in the Trentino municipality of Bondone) should also be enjoyed. In addition to enjoying a traditional coast side holiday, here you can practice various water sports as well as inland activities: sailing, windsurfing, cycling, trekking and climbing. A tour around the lake by boat is also a highlight. The territory is full of trails and walks, as well as churches such as Santa Maria in Undas and San Michele in Idro, San Antonio in Anfo and San Giacamo in Ponte Caffaro. One of the most important Venetian and Napoleonic fortresses in history guards the lake: the fortress ‘Rocca d’Anfo’, a must for any visitor to Valle Sabbia. The ‘Forte di Valledrane’ in Treviso Bresciano and the ‘Forte di Cima Ora’ on the mountains of Anfo are also of great historic importance. In the stunning area of Capovalle you can find a museum dedicated to relics from the First World War and bask in the beauty protected of the natural surroundings.
A few kilometres from the lake, in a narrow Alpine valley, you find Bagolino. This town offers the churches of San Giorgio and San Rocco, the Romanterra geological site and the ethnographic collection housed in the in the ‘Habitar in sta terra’ Museum. The nearby mountains offer opportunities for virtually all types of sport from walks, bicycle rides, horse-riding in the summer, mountain, downhill and cross country skiing, snowshoeing in the winter. Some of the most important traditions and specialities of Valle Sabbia were born within these mountains: the Bagolino Carnival (the famous and colourful festival of sixteenth century origin, known throughout Europe) and the prized cheese Bagòss.