Traditional trades and crafts, past and present

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The area of Lake Maggiore and its valleys has always had a wealth of trades and crafts. Here man has always lived in harmony with his surroundings, and this union of nature and culture has produced some stunning effects. We invite you to take a trip to discover our traditional trades and crafts, which have permitted the commerce and industry of the area to flourish now as in the past.

Starting from the Ossola valleys, two trades stand out as the most common: those of the chimney sweep and the miner.  Chimney sweeping, a speciality of the beautiful Vigezzo Valley, is remembered in the village of Malesco with its statue of a boy sweep, while Santa Maria Maggiore has an almost unique Chimney Sweep Museum. Still in the Ossola, in the Anzasca Valley you can experience something of what it was like to be a miner with a visit to the disused Guia Gold Mine, the walls of which still gleam with real veins of pyrite. Moving out of the Ossola, at Campello Monti in the Strona Valley above Omegna are what were the major nickel mines in Europe.

Evidence of local agricultural production and peasant life can be seen all over the territory. Take the Wine press and watermill route to discover the remains of ancient villages of the Ossola, in the Antrona and Bognanco Valleys.  The watermills of Arona, Oleggio Castello and the villages of the Rese Valley also take us back to the rural life of the past, as does the ancient wine press of Oggiogno above Cannero Riviera. Life and traditions of the country people are on display in the Casa Forte Museum in Ponte Formazza, and can still be seen in the countryside of the Novara Hills, a rural area important for the production of rice and wine. A top quality DOCG wine continues to be produced in the ancient Ricetto cellars of Ghemme.

Many ancient country crafts have remained firmly established in the territory, such as the trade of the picasass or stonemasons, who still cut the pale pink marble of Candoglia and the white Montorfano granite. In the hamlet of Esio near Premeno local handcrafts still flourish, while until recently the handcrafted production of musical instruments at Quarna Sotto was in great demand on the international market.

The close relationship between nature and culture is seen to great effect in the hydroelectric power stations of the Ossola, buildings of great architectural value used for the production of electricity from the fast-flowing mountain rivers. Lastly, industry has also had major importance in the area, especially in Omegna, the original centre of the Italian kitchenware industry; learn about its history and development in the Arts and Industry Museum Foundation in Omegna.