Handicraft in Sesia Valley
for centuries Valsesia has been a land poor in means but rich in natural resources such as wood, stone, water and above-all, its inhabitant’s creativity. Centuries of self-sufficiency and ingenuity handed down to an important handcraft today, and ranges from decorations on utensils and homes, to clothing and the precious lace called “puncett”. Today, experienced hands guard and protect these arts and produce products that aptly represents the modern culture of “know-how”, whose roots are deeply set in ancient knowledge.
Craft in Valsesia can be described as decidedly artistic, thanks to talent and creativity, the sons of tradition which originated in the 15 th century on the site of the Sacred Mount of Varallo.
Here, alongside great artists, worked a considerable number of joiners, smiths, glaziers, sculptors and plasterers who succeeded in passing on their skill from generation to generation, making this imaginative work a feature of the Valsesian personality, as conformed by don Luigi Ravelli in his famous “Guide to Valsesia”.
In the 19 th century, the value of craftwork was recognised, partially due to the formation of bodies such as the Society for the Encouragement of the Study of Design in Valsesia and the Barolo School , with the laboratory of wooden sculpture, driven by the desire to train young people.
The Società Operaia di Mutuo Soccorso, founded in 1859, is still involved in the defence and enhancement of typical Valsesian crafts. The SOMS runs the Bottega dell’Artigianato, a sales outlet selling local products, based in Varallo, which guarantees the authenticity of the products made and ensures that the traditional techniques, including Valsesian “puncetto” and Valsesian “scapin”, carving, terracotta and pyrography are passed on, organising special courses.