THE "SACRI MONTI OF PIEDMONT AND LOMBARDY" - UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE
Alpine valleys, hills, vineyards, 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 prestigious architectural complexes standing on hilltops and structured in a sequence of chapels with paintings and sculptures representing the story of Christ, Holy Mary and the Saints. The works by famous artists from the XV-XIX 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 XV 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.