Val Camonica (also Valcamonica or Camonica Valley, in camunian dialect Al Camònega, poetic Camunia) is one of the largest valleys of the central Alps, located in eastern Lombardy, about 90 km long. It extends from Passo Tonale, at 1883 metres above sea level, to Corna Trentapassi, in the comune of Pisogne, near Lake Iseo. It has an area of about 1,335 km sq. Area of the municipalities, excluding Val di Scalve and 118,323 inhabitants. The Oglio River runs through the valleys full length, with head waters starting at Ponte di Legno and flowing into Lake Iseo, between Pisogne and Costa Volpino. Almost all of the valley is included in the administrative territory of the province of Brescia, except for Lovere, Rogno, Costa Volpino and the Val di Scalve, which belong to the province of Bergamo.

Valle Camonica can be divided into three main areas:

  • Lower Val Camonica: a flat area of meadows and fields, which starts from the shores of Lake Iseo and reaches up to the transverse ridge of Bienno, sometimes referred to as the Breno Threshold;
  • Middle Val Camonica: this extends from the Breno Threshold to the municipality of Sonico - Edolo. The lower middle valley extends from Breno to Sellero, and the upper middle valley from the narrow gorge at Cedegolo to Sonico - Edolo;
  • High Val Camonica: This part of the valley follows the Periadriatic Seam, and is oriented from east to west. Starting in the Val di Corteno, it continues as far as the town of Ponte di Legno at its head. Its climate is similar to that of central Valtellina.

The Valle Camonica probably became habitable only around 15,000 years ago, at the end of last Ice Age, with the melting of the glacier that carved out the valley. It is likely that the first humans visited the valley in Epipaleolithic times, and appear to have settled by the Neolithic period. When the Ancient Romans extended their dominions north of the River Po, they encountered a people called the Camunnni, of unknown origin, populating the valley. Rock Drawings in Valcamonica About 300,000 petroglyphs survive from this period. By the end of the first century BC, the Valle Camonica was ruled by Ancient Rome, which established the city of Cividate Camuno, with baths, an amphitheater and a large temple dedicated to Minerva. During the Middle Ages, numerous clashes between the Guelphs and Ghibellines took place in this region. The Guelphs supported the power of the Bishop of Brescia and the papacy, while the Ghibellines sided with the Holy Roman Emperor. In 1287 the Camonica Valley rebelled against control by Brescia and sided with the Visconti, lords of Milan, who extended their control over the area during the 14th century. From 1427 to 1454 there were numerous battles between the Republic of Venice and Milan for the control of the valley. Ultimately the Valley came under the control of the Venice. During the following centuries, the civilian population grew and engaged in the iron trade.