The historic centres of Marone

The municipality of Marone, located in the middle of the eastern shore at the mouth of the Opol and Bagnadore streams, is made up of various hamlets: Ariolo, Collepiano, Ponzano, Pregasso, Vesto and Vello.

The territory was already inhabited in the Roman period, as evidenced by the presence of a villa still in use in the III-IV century AD. to the south of the town, in the locality of “Cò de Ela” (literally “Head of the Villa”).

In the medieval period the most significant settlements were located on the slopes, more defensible from external attacks and healthier; the centers of Vesto, Pregasso and Collepiano developed, situated today as then on the Valeriana or Valligiana road, a mountain communication route which, across Lake Iseo’s coast, led to the Camonica Valley. Probably the Benedictine presence and the action of the parish church of Sale Marasino favoured agricultural development in these centuries.

According to local tradition, in the 10th century Alberto da Pregas obtained from Otto I the investiture of the castle of Pregasso – on the isolated hill overlooking Marone – and of the relative fief. The church of San Pietro, inside the fortification, and in connection with the main centre of Pregasso, carried out parish functions until 1578. At the approach of the fourteenth century, the noble family of the Oldofredi of Iseo – a faithful ally of the Visconti – owned houses and land in Marone.

With the emergence of Venice in the second half of the 1400s, Marone benefited from relative economic well-being and political stability which allowed, through the vicinia (rural municipality), a careful management of the territory. The decline of Vesto and Pregasso in favour of Marone is from this period. The village will then be modelled around the harbour and the large parish church dedicated to St. Martin of Tours and the Immaculate Conception.

With the fall of the Republic of Venice and the Napoleonic age, Marone joined the Republic of Brescia. The economy of the period had its fulcrum in the production of felts and wool blankets.

In 1828, under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the construction of the coastal road leading to Pisogne began, an important town and gateway to the Camonica Valley; the work was finished in 1850 and greatly favoured communications and the transport of things and people.

With the unification of Italy (1861) the economy continued to thrive mainly thanks to the production of woolen blankets and silk products.

Between the two wars, an imposing industrial structure was established in Marone, still operating today, “La dolomite” by Attilio Franchi (1919) which radically changed the urban landscape.

Today the community, like others on Lake Iseo, is concentrating its activity on the cultivation of the olive tree, producing an oil that has reached high levels of quality and which allows Marone to join the International Association of “cities of oil”.

The visit to the town starts from the parish churchyard directly overlooking a pleasant lakefront. Behind the church starts the pedestrian itinerary “of the valley” that climbs the coast of the mountain through a steep and suggestive road, made of cobblestones and with stone steps in the center. The route passes through the small inhabited center of Piazze where, near the railway line, you can see the masonry of a late medieval tower-house.

An important source of karst origin descends along the path: the Festola which made the blades of the mills work (as many as 28 mill wheels in the 15th century); later, with the advent of industrialisation, the wheels were used to drive the machinery for processing wool and silk. The source is currently partially channelled.

The climb ends in Ponzano, located on the road that connects Marone with Collepiano and Zone. The village retains numerous signs of the past. Some streets have the passage under the vòlto of the houses as happens for Vesto. Then there is the fifteenth-century complex with a tower that rises in the middle of the historic centre and that was probably part of an ancient cortivo (fortified residence, enclosed by a wall, with a tower to protect the entrance).


Angelo Valsecchi

Iniziativa realizzata nell’ambito del bando Wonderfood & Wine di Regione Lombardia e Unioncamere Lombardia per la promozione di Sapore inLOMBARDIA

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