Motto di Unchio

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How to get

By car: from the A26 exit for Verbania. From the centre of the town follow the signs for Cossogno. Unchio is just before Cossogno. Unchio is 65,7 km from Malpensa Airport.
By train: the nearest station is Verbania Pallanza.


The village of Unchio, a hamlet of medieval origin now part of Verbania, lies at the foot of a hill from which there is a fine view taking in Lake Maggiore and Monterosso, and which reaches as far as the hills bordering on the valley of the San Bernardino river.

The hill was once occupied by pastureland, but is now completely covered with dense spontaneous woodland, in which species typical of this area – chestnut, lime, birch and Scots pine – are found beside imported species such as eastern white pine and Norway spruce. On the top of the hill is a small oratory dedicated to the Madonna della Croce (Virgin of the Cross), dating from the early 19th century; two paths lead to the oratory, each of them flanked by shrines of the Stations of the Cross.

A number of rock engravings can be seen on the rocks near the oratory, including a clearly identifiable anthropomorphic engraving and 43 cup-marks, some of them joined by channels or gutters.

The Cup-marks. Various interpretations have been attributed to these engravings. The first is a sacred interpretation which sees these small, sometimes shallow, sometimes deep hollows as an indication of the place where the blood of sacrificial victims flowed, or where incense, ointment or wax was deposited, perhaps to be used as lamps during nocturnal ceremonies. Another theory hypothesises that the carved boulders were a useful way of signalling or communicating across the distances between the various hill-tops. Yet another theory interprets them as a religious symbol linked to the cult of  the dead, perhaps as a form of  devotion,  to collect water and food for the deceased. But the interpretations of their significance are many and various: depictions of the constellations, signs of property, numerical symbols, primordial topographical representations, effigies of the female sex, crude baptismal fonts.