Parzanica stands 750 metres above sea level, on the west coast of Sebino and preserves the rural structure dating back to the Middle Ages: the road (SP 78) that connects the surrounding villages was recently built in 1957.
The borgo was built by the Fenaroli family – residing in Tavernola Bergamasca since the 13th Century – to monitor the nearby Valle d’Adrara (Adrara valley); during the violent struggles between factions, in 1380 the Guelphs of Giovanni Fermo from Adrara set fire to Parzanica, the reason why only a few ruins from the Middle Ages are still standing nowadays.
The name (from gentilitial Precius + suffix –anicus/a) reveals ancient origins, even if the first testimonies date back to the 13th Century: the village, consisting of two districts – Guelph and Ghibelline – extends over a plateau facing the lake. The tower dating back to the 14th Century (via Santella 4 (4 Santella street)) overlooks the main road, is 9 metres high and built from large limestone blocks: this building was a watchtower, but perhaps acted as an advanced defence of the castle that stood on the rocky spur in the overlooking district of Pagà (destroyed later on by the Visconti family in 1428).
There were ancient stone structures near the tower which have now been restored; in Via Pasà 6 a 14th Century portal with archivolt can be seen with a stylised coat of arms in the arch keystone. At the far western end of the village (in the district of Cedrina) it is possible to see other ancient buildings, which can be accessed via a 16th Century round arch limestone portal.
The districts of Parzanica have ancient origins: Acquaiolo is halfway up, and retains some of the medioeval stone houses, including the building in via Mulattiera 29 which is accessed through an archway with a coat of arms in the arch keystone; in the courtyard, on the right, there is a house on two levels with 14th Century arched entrances. Portirone on the other hand was the ancient lake docking point used by Parzanica: it is a small cluster of fishermen’s cottages, now restored, at the mouth of the hanging Valle dei Foppi (Foppi Valley).
For more information:
BORDOGNA A., Parzanica, Sarnico 1997.