“Comics” in the Rock: The Petroglyphs of Valcamonica
Our tip for an exciting journey taking you 10,000 years back in time: The countless petroglyphs in Valcamonica tell stories that span several millennia and provide insights into life as it was led from the last Ice Age until the days of the Roman Empire.
We begin our journey in the province of Brescia, which lies in south-eastern Lombardy. There we discover the UNESCO World Heritage Region of Valcamonica, a valley in which you can marvel at the world’s most extensive collection of petroglyph finds.
The word “petroglyph” comes from the Greek and consists of two parts, petros meaning “rock” and glýphein which means “to carve”. In other words, petroglyphs are all about rock art that dates back to prehistoric times. Though unlike rock paintings, petroglyphs are engraved, scraped or picked into the surface, thus preserving them for posterity.
The incredible extent of petroglyphs here, originally comprising some 140,000 figures, motivated UNESCO to recognize Valcamonica as a World Heritage Site back in 1979, making it the first region in Italy to receive that honor. Subsequent discoveries have increased the number of figures from 140,000 to some 200,000. And estimates suggest the final total could reach as many as 300,000!
The petroglyphs are spread out along a 25-kilometer stretch of the valley and lie at elevations ranging between 20 and 1400 meters above sea level. They can mainly be found in the countryside surrounding Darfo Boario Terme, Capo di Ponte (Naquane National Park), Nadro, Cimbergo and Paspardo.
One reason that these rock engravings are especially interesting is the fact that one can observe periodic changes in styles and motifs over the course of some 10,000 years. They represent a veritable archive of European history, extending from the Late Ice Age in the Alpine world until Imperial Rome.
Naturally, we could tell you a lot more about Valcamonica and the petroglyphs, but it would be far better for you to see, and marvel at this fascinating rock art in person.
For your unforgettable stay in the region, and only the better part of an hour’s drive from Valcamonica, the estate of Agriturismo L’Unicorno awaits you close to Lake Garda. If you do decide to travel from L’Unicorno to the UNESCO World Heritage valley, you will also discover idyllic Lago d’Iseo along the way!
Enjoy a holiday Italian-style, and of the very finest!