It is the territory situated on the western part of Canavese, between the watershed Monte Soglio, Cima Mares and Rocche di S. Martino and the first part of the plain zone of the torrents Orco and Malone. It borders at N on Comunità Valli Orco and Soana and with the villages of Valle Sacra, at E with the plain of Castellamonte, at S with Salassa,, San Ponso, Busano and Barbania, at W with the deep valley of the torrent Malone. The villages Canischio, Cuorgnè, Forno Canavese, Levone, Pertusio, Prascorsano, Pratiglione, Rivara, Rocca, San Colombano and Valperga belong to the Comunità Montana Alto Canavese.
The built-up area of Valperga and the castle which overhangs it is placed at the extremity of the short chain which from the Monte Soglio, through the height of Belmonte, extends on the Canavesana plain. Its territory was seat of settlements of great importance in prehistoric epoch and of a roman centre. Feud of the Valperga’s Earls and their usual place of residence, the village had very ancient statutes to which refer the articles of the middle of the XIV century. Its history is identified to that of its lords, descendants of the earls of Canavese, come here in the 11th century. The village is disposed in a semicircle, consisting of three principal districts: Trusignè at the extremity towards Cuorgnè where there is already a tower-door. From the opposite side, towards Pertusio, the nucleus of Valgrande and at the center the Ricetto, where the medieval path of the castle and of the Parish of Saint Gorge descended.
It’s already quite common the cultivation of vine, once primary resource (about 1000 hectares cultivated with vine in 1750, with the production of nebbiolo, neretto and erbaluce); it is still produced a good-quality wine. The zone has been inserted since some years in some DOC canavesane and belongs to the oenogastronomic course “Le strade del vino”.
Built by Silvesco’s and
the other primitive lords of Cuorgnè, enlarged by Valperga’s in the following
centuries..3 nucleus are distinguished: a central part, fitted with towers, the
medieval castle which surrounds it, girded by enormous bastions which run along
the old Belmonte’s street, interrupted by an arch situated where was placed the drawbridge, finally a magnificent
neoclassic palace, surrounded by a beautiful and terraced park, which lately
belonged to Coardi Bagnasco of Carpeneto, now Istituto Figlie della Sapienza.
The church of the Trinity’s confraternity replaced in 1803 the Saint George’s Parish. It was built in 1710 and enlarged in 1749, with the present shape with a nave and two side aisles designed by the architect Costanzo michela of Agliè. The style is a Piedmontese baroque simple and elegant.
The building of the bell tower, designed by the architect Ludovico Antonio Bo, began in 1777. The works were interrupted at the bell tower floor, they were resumed in 1790 and finished in 1792, at the highness of about 60 metres. The access to the bell tower floor is possible by means of two helicoidal stairs.
Through a pedestrian street people can reach the Belmonte’s sanctuary, situated in the village Valperga, at the top of a characteristic hill (727 metre slm). It was a place of prehistoric settlements, roman and barbaric and in the XI century was established a feminine benedictine cell, remained till the year 1602, replaced by the Franciscan Friars, authors during the centuries of enlargements of the monastery and the chapels of the Via Crucis. It’s notable the church restored in the middle of ‘800 in Romanesque-Lombard style, besides the panorama on the plain and on the piedmontese mountains. Due to the uniqueness of the place the hill has become in 1991 Parco Regionale del Sacro Monte di Belmonte.
Recently (3 jul 2003) the Sacro Monte di Belmonte has been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List togheter with other eight “Sacri Monti” of Piemonte and Lombardia with the following justification:
“They are groups of chapels and other architectural features created in the late 16th and 17th centuries and dedicated to different aspects of the Chritian faith; in addition to their symbolic spiritual meaning , they are of great beauty by virtue of the skill with wich they have been integrated into the surrounding natural lanscape of hills, forests and lakes. They also house much important atistic material in the form of wall paintings and statuary “.