Bienno, the 'Magli' Village

Bienno (Valcamonica). The hydraulic wheelIn the Middle Ages the hydraulic wheel started to spread all over Europe as an innovative energy system. Since then Bienno (Valcamonica) transformed it into the base of the technological innovation that created the great metallurgic development of the following centuries.

The Water Energy System

In the gloom of a forge, blackened by hundreds of years of smoke coming from the furnace where the temperature reaches more than one thousands Celsius degrees, even the roar of the waterfalls is drowned by the obsessive thumping of the big power hammers, so strong that the floor itself trembles and is made of dirt for a good reason...

Bienno (Valcamonica). The power hammerHuge hammers mounted on chestnut or oak tree trunks and set in motion by hydraulic wheels deal incredibly violent blows on white hot pieces of iron. The skilful action of experienced blacksmiths (mahister) transforms the pieces of iron in tools: shovels, buckets, hoes...

Inside the forge the Etnographic Museum of the Iron is a reminder of technologies that made history but are now on the blink of oblivion.

The Water Mill

Bienno (Valcamonica). The millA roaring waterfall gives life to the big wheel of the mill. In its shadows, dim lights outline parts of the structure, all made of ancient wood, stone and forged iron.

Here all the parts repeat their movements forever and this originates other movements, in a synchronous concert made of tick-tocking, throbs, jolts, touching and scratching that creates the never changing song of the old mill.

Meanwhile, gathered in the old bread chest by the sifter, the flour, precious and sacred, spread its aroma everywhere.

The Medieval and Renaissance Village

Bienno (Valcamonica). An old street inside the villageThe medieval and Renaissance character of Bienno is still clearly seen in the old part of the village.

Every street can be a revelation: a wall made of big stones, a fountain, a portal, a railing, a coat of arms, a ray of light making its way through the semi darkness and lighting up a balcony decorated with hundreds of flowers...

A timeless place.

The Church of S. Maria Annunciata

Bienno (Valcamonica). Medieval fresco inside the church of S. Maria AnnunciataOn the surface only good for its art value, this church has been a special witness of the socio-economic situation in Valcamonica during the Middle Ages.

Its frescoes tell us stories of saints, religious beliefs, traditions and customs of the villagers. It is easy to connect the social classes of the past with the metallurgical activities they performed.