Last summer I went back to visit the rock carving parks in Valle Camonica. It was like a flashback, suddenly I felt catapulted back to when I had gone to see the rock carvings with school as a child.
Some small and brief frames of my memory resurfaced. I saw myself there again, under the hut, grinding corn kernels and using the stones to start a fire. It was strange, those childhood moments came back to me and I was very pleased.
Most Brescian children “get” this classic field trip in elementary or middle school. I don’t really understand why, but it is a fixed stop that I still remember in a pleasant way. I admit, I remember more of the corn and stones than the rock carvings of the Valle Camonica, but then again, you are small and give weight to different things.
Among the rock carvings of the Valle Camonica
The Valle Camonica is a very large and varied territory. It ranges from about 200 meters in the village of Pisogne to over 1800 meters at the Tonale Pass. In this piece of Brescian territory there are many points where engravings (drawings) dating back thousands of years can be found. There are as many as 8 rock art parks located at different points between the town of Darfo and the village of Sonico. Although they are all important, some are of greater significance such as the Lake Moro, Luine and Monticolo Park of Supra-Municipal Interest or the Naquane Rock Art Park.
During my rediscovery of the value and importance of rock engravings in Valle Camonica, I had the opportunity to visit just these two parks, both of which are interesting and kept really well.
Walking along the path built among the rock engravings one comes face to face with depictions dating back thousands of years. The strange thing, and at the same time the strength of the rock carving parks in the Valle Camonica, is that usually the archaeological finds are confined to museums behind display cases and adequate protection. Here, on the other hand, you are walking in an open-air museum, the rock paintings just inches away from the visitor. It is this union of nature and a walk inside history that makes it all so fascinating.
Another positive note is that in some parks you are allowed to enter with your dogs , such as in Naquane Park; in Luine Park it is not possible because being a nature reserve, the smell of dogs could be a problem for the animal species in the area.
Naquane Park: rock carvings in Capo di Ponte
This archaeological park located in the locality of Capo di Ponte is one of the most important and visited in all of Valle Camonica. The area in which there are rock engravings is quite large and there are several paths that allow you to make sense and itinerary between the various rocks. It has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
How to get to the rock graffiti park?
It is simple. Simply follow the many signs to Naquane Park. What is less simple is being able to figure out where to park and which way to access the rock carvings archaeological area.
The advice is to park near the Chiesa delle Sante Church, where there is a small parking lot on the right side of the road going toward Via delle fucine. There is no charge for parking and it is best to arrive at the site not too late, otherwise you may have to leave your car at the side of the road. From this point on, to reach the rock graffiti you continue on foot, first on an asphalt road; after a few meters you have to turn left onto a small road about 300 meters long. At the end of the road is the ticket office and a small themed souvenir store.
The cost of a ticket to the Rock Carving Park is 6 euros for adults and 3 euros for children. It allows admission to the Naquane Rock Carving Park and the Valle Camonica National Museum of Prehistory (MUPRE). Note that the museum ticket is valid within one month from the date of purchase.
The itineraries among the cave paintings
Within the park there are as many as 5 proposed itineraries among the engravings, the most traveled one lasts about 1 hour and includes the yellow and blue itinerary. It touches the rocks of greatest interest, those with noteworthy rock carvings. Many passages on the rock carvings have been constructed via wooden walkways precisely to enable visitors to appreciate the histories more closely.
The tour inside the park is very pleasant, each rock and sign has its own explanation and meaning. A few representations are still being studied as it is not easy to be able to give tangible meaning to a sign dating back thousands of years. In case you want to delve into some concept, there are accredited guides within the park that can be an additional source of information.
Rock Graffiti in Valle Camonica: the Park of Luine
In the locality of Darfo, 20/25 minutes away from Capo di Ponte, one encounters other traces and signs of the prehistoric past. The most important rock carvings park in this area is that of the Lake Moro, Luine and Monticolo Park of Supra-Municipal Interest. On the sandstone rocks of Luine are the oldest rock engravings in Valle Camonica, and the park is very well maintained.
The area is vast and from the top of the park it is possible to see the entire Valle Camonica as well as the nearby town of Darfo. Again, the parking lot is about 300 meters from the park entrance; it is a large parking lot. Admission is free and opening hours differ depending on the season.
Attention: the archaeological site of Luine unlike the one in Naquane does not provide access with dogs because with their smell they could bother the local fauna.
Entrance to the Luine rock carvings park
Entrance to the park must be documented and this is taken care of by Mariagrazia, the janitor who manages the site with her son Mario. She is very nice and takes great pride in her job description. I spent several minutes talking with her and she had me sign a register filled with many names of foreigners from all different parts of the world. Mariagrazia is very pleased about this, she even told me about a girl who had tattooed on her arm one of the cave paintings found in Luine.
Luine Park is interesting and fascinating, there are 3 trails within it: yellow, green and red. The best known one is the red one and lasts about an hour. It depends on how long you stop to read and understand each rock carving. The rocks with the most important rock engravings are 30, 34, 46, 49 and 104, on the latter you can easily distinguish two beautiful Camune roses, symbol of the Lombardy region.
Walking inside the Luine Park, for the umpteenth time you realize you are in one of the open-air museums of the Valle Camonica. Man, nature and history suspended in a fascinating balance.
After visiting the rock carvings: relaxing on Lake Moro
After visiting the rock carvings parks in Valle Camonica, I did not disdain, and I highly recommend it, a trip to Lake Moro. It is only a few minutes drive from Luine Park, there are many directions and it is not difficult to get there.
It must be specified, however, that there are two roads: one coming from Angolo Terme and the other from the village of Darfo.
I arrived from the first of the two and perhaps it is not the most convenient because of the lack of parking and because of the fact that you have to walk, first downhill and then uphill, a small road that leads to the green area of Lake Moro where you can find the kiosk and a tavern. It may be better to take the road from Darfo.
Near the kiosk there are several spots where you can lie down and sunbathe. For those who want to have fun, however, they can rent a paddleboat and spend some time cruising here and there among the shores of the lake.
Another activity I recommend doing? Dive off the pier not far from the kiosk, too bad I didn’t have my swimsuit with me, I felt a tinge of envy seeing all those guys jumping into the water. So next time I visit Moro Lake, I will definitely not fail to bring a swimsuit!