THE “SACRI MONTI OF PIEDMONT AND LOMBARDY”, UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE
Alpine valleys, hills, vineyards and lake views are the natural settings that embrace the Alpine Sacri Monti (Holy Mountains), seven in Piedmont and two in Lombardy. Since July 2003, they have been recognised as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, for their enchanting landscapes, history, architecture, and precious works of art.
The Sacri Monti are outstanding architectural complexes standing on hilltops and structured in sequences of chapels with paintings and sculptures representing the story of Christ, Holy Mary and the Saints. The works by famous artists from the 15th-19th century include life-size statues reproducing gestures, features and expressions of impressive realism.
During the Catholic Reformation, this communicative pattern became an evocative way to tell sacred history and to canalise and discipline popular devotion, always under the watchful eye of the Church.
The history of Sacri Monti started at the end of the 15th century, with the foundation of the Sacro Monte of Varallo. There, the Franciscan friar Bernardino Caimi reproduced some locations of the Holy Land connected to the life of Christ. Prominent artists of the Piedmontese and Lombard cultural panorama contributed to the success of the project. The Sacro Monte of Varallo became so popular that it inspired a new generation of sanctuaries in the Western Italian Alps.
The Sacri Monti have now become destinations for art-centered tourism where nature and culture celebrate the values of spirituality.
SERIAL SITE AND COORDINATION STRUCTURE
Given the variety and complexity of the subjects involved in the management of the UNESCO site of the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy, the following bodies have been set up and operate to ensure homogeneity and coordination of activities:
all the subjects involved in the management are represented (Mibac, Regions, Diocese, Municipalities, managing bodies, religious bodies); expresses opinions and proposals on matters and topics that it considers of particular interest for the UNESCO site, as well as for the context in which the Sacri Monti are inserted; examines, even for information or reconnaissance purposes only, problems related to the UNESCO site, its relations with third parties, the quality and type of services offered and the planning of interventions; verifies the implementation of the activities envisaged in the Unitary Management Plan; carries out its activities in coordination with the Permanent Operational Working Group;
Permanent Operational Working Group:
it is made up of representatives of the Regions, of Mibac, of Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti and of the Lombard Sacri Monti; defines technical-operational guidelines, formulates unitary enhancement, protection and management programs, formulates economic plans, collaborates in finding resources and in permanent management monitoring, in the publication and presentation of a periodic report on the protection, conservation and management;
is based in the Piedmont region1; organizes, plans and manages the various work activities, manages external relations;
Permanent Study and Documentation Center:
is based at the Sacro Monte di Crea; carries out study, research and documentation activities on the UNESCO site and on European devotional complexes.
The Piedmont Region is the reference subject for the UNESCO site for the procedures referred to the Law 77/2006.