Sondrio, 29 giugno 2014   |  

Looking for the historical heritage of Valtellina: arts and crafts museums

Picapreda Museum in Novata Mezzola on the quarrying of granite, the Forge of Gallivaggio, the Historical Gallery of the Fire Brigade of Chiavenna show how the local communities lived.

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Among the historical sites of interest spread across Valtellina, arts and crafts museums bear witness of the rural civilization and the first industrial activities of the valley. Small museums, like the Picapreda Museum in Novata Mezzola on the quarrying of granite, or the Forge of Gallivaggio or the Historical Gallery of the Fire Brigade of Chiavenna show how the local communities lived, worked and organized public services like fire fighting and emergency interventions.

Valchiavenna area

The Picapreda Museum – Novate Mezzola, Codera

In Novata Mezzola, by the namesake lake, this museum displays a collection of images and a display of typical equipment used to extract the “sanfedelino” granite from 1700’s to today, thereby showing the main activity of the population for almost two centuries: the “picapreda”, i.e. stone breaker. The Sanfedelino granite (so called because the first cave was almost behind a 10th century church where the remains of the saint and martyr Fedele were found) was first used for street paving in the cities of Milan, Como, Pavia and Bologna and later also for the new pedestrian pavements. The production reached its peak between 1920 and 1930 with about twenty sites in the Novate caves, then it was reduced and today only one cave remains in operation.  

The Bottonera Mill – Chiavenna

Founded in 1867, it is located in the old artisan quarters of Bottonera in Chiavenna, hosting several water-based activities that used the Mera river via a series of canals: a paper mill, a forge, tanneries, wadding factories, brewers and a pasta factory.  Bottonera Mill, on three levels, worked day and night, managed by the chief milliner with a team of workers producing sacks of flour, bran and grains, till the Seventies, when it was stopped.

2014 Opening hours: 14th June - 17 September 2014 daily h. 15.00-18.00 hours (closed on Tuesdays); August open daily h. 15.00-18.00; 13th September - 2nd November 2014 Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays h. 14.30-17.30; In winter the Museum can be visited by booking. For more information:  - Chiavenna Tourist Office - Tel. +39 0343 37485 -  

"Historical Gallery of the Fire Brigade of Chiavenna”

The Historical Gallery of the Fire Department of Chiavenna reopened in May 2013, making ​​available to the public its unique memorabilia: equipment and emergency vehicles ranging from the second half of the 18th century to around 1970.

Created upon the initiative of a group of firefighters and volunteers of the Chiavenna Fire Brigade displays documents and images of the Civic Firefighters Corps of Chiavenna (established in 1868) with the aim to reconstruct some scenes and recreate the atmosphere of a bygone era, when the body was taking the first steps in the organization of fire-fighting in the city of Chiavenna.

The "Historical Gallery" has been realized by the supporters without any public or private funding and relying only on their volunteer work, in order to tell the story of the men involved in this relevant service.

2014 Opening hours: May, June, July, September and October every Saturday from 15 hours to 18 hours. In the winter months you can visit the museum by appointment for groups of no less than 10 people. Detailed information: For more information: Tourist Office Chiavenna - Tel +39 0343 37485 -

The Forge of Gallivaggio – San Giacomo Filippo

Situated in the hamlet of Gallivaggio (San Giacomo Filippo municipality), the forge is hosted on the ground floor of a main building and consists of a living room with the fire place, rooms covered by wood, a wine cellar, stable and barn, while outside there are the rests of the shelter for the pigs. This forge worked until the middle of 1800 as a blacksmith, clobber and horseshoer producing tools for the caravans directed to the Spluga Pass and the peasants and shepherds of the area.

The hearth of the forge, stoked by coal and with a base for the anvil made of stone, was started up by a manual blowpipe called "Mantes".

2014 Opening hours: The forge is only open for guided tours (min. 5 persons). Booking: tel. +39 392 0350903. For more information: Madesimo Tourist Office Tel. +39 0343 53015 -

Sondrio – Valmalenco area

The Cavallari Forge – Castello dell’Acqua

The Cavallari Forge (in the Cavallari hamlet in the Castello dell’Acqua municipality) was used for more than two centuries and restored by the Comunità Montana Valtellina of Sondrio (territorial association among the region’s local authorities) as a symbol of the craft activities of the past in the region. The Cavallari Forge is an impressive building with its large hydraulic wheel and imposing grindstone. 

2014 Opening hours: The forge can be visited after contacting the Castello dell’ Acqua local authority – Tel. +39 0342 482206


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