The Val Grande is the northmost of the three Lanzo Valleys and is situated in the Graian Alps, in the Turin district.
It is named by the width of its basin compared to the relatively short length (only 17-km). It is to the South of Valle dell’Orco and to the North of Val d’Ala with which it joins at Ceres. The valley is crossed by Stura di Valgrande and is positioned East to West in the higher part, while it turns to the South in the bottom valley. The Levanne massif frames and dominates it.
The Val Grande begins from Ceres, where it separates from the Val d’Ala, and finishes at Forno Alpi Graie, Groscavallo hamlet. On reaching Forno, the valley splits in two smaller gullies: Vallone di Sea and Vallone della Gura.
Cantoira is situated on Monte Bellavarda slopes at 750 m of altitude. The Santa Cristina Chapel is built on a very steep summit.
In the old times the village’s name was Canturia which, according to some theory, could originate from the Roman Centuria that settled on the site. Another theory has the name originating from cantoria (choir) since a monks cloister probably was located in the village.
Val Grande and, therefore, Cantoira’s first inhabitants were, almost for sure, of Ligurian origin and, later on, they merged with Celtic groups. The first written documents concerning Cantoira date from the XIVth century. The village, as many others of the Lanzo Valleys, followed the fate of the Lanzo Castle lord. In 1350 the Baratonia Viscounts ruled over it. In 1724 the feud passed on to Carlo Emanuele Ripa di Giaglione and in 1769 to the Biglianis. Later on, the political, economic and social events of Cantoira were strictly intertwined with the Savoy Family’s.
Chialamberto is the second municipality of Val Grande, just past Cantoira.
The first news of the village go back to the XIVth century. At that time only small groups of houses existed and the name originates from the first families names: Chialamberto (Lamberto’s home) and Cà Michiardi (Michiardi’s home). In 1341, Chialamberto is mentioned in a document for the first time. It is a deed proving the Monastero di San Mauro di Pulcheria renounce of rights on this and other territories, in favor of Count Amine called Il Pacifico (the peaceful). From this period onwards, Chialamberto follows the Savoy Family’s fate. From the XVth to the XVIIIth centuries melting furnaces and forges, mills and iron mines were active. In 1596, probably due to the fact of being the most developed village in the valley, it became seat of a Parish church. In 1724 Chialamberto was granted as feud to Domenico Ambrosio; the following year, Vonzo was granted to Senator Ludovico Grassi. As a matter of facts, up to 1831 the territory was split in three distinct municipalities: Vonzo, Mottera and Chialamberto that nowadays are Chialamberto’s hamlets.
In 1831, thanks to the job done by the priest Bottino Martino Antonio of Breno, the three municipalities were united in a unique Town Hall: Chialamberto.
Groscavallo and its many hamlets extend to the end of Val Grande where the Uja di Ciamarella, Uja di Gura and eastern Levanne majestic summits stand out.
The name’s origin is not sure. According to some academics, it could originate from the Celtic words graus and wald, since the first inhabitants of the territory were Celts and Ligurian. Others believe the name’s orgin is in the Latin words grossa vallis, that is Valle Grande.
From a document dating from the XIVth century it is known that a Count of the Savoy Family granted a stronghold as feud to the Amedeo and Reinardo Gonterio brothers. Groscavallo is also named among the properties passed from Monastero di San Mauro Pulcherada to the Count of Savoy. Copper, iron and silver mining activities started to develop. The Savoy members so as to destroy castles and fortresses recruited groups of miners. The territory became the land of mines and skilled miners whose fame was not only known in the Lanzo Valleys but throughout the whole Savoy Duchy. This activity was brought on from the XIVth to the XVIIth century, after which agriculture and farming, mainly made up of sheeps, took place. During the first half of the XVIIIth century, due to splitting up of Lanzo Castle’s properties, the feuds of Bonzo, Groscavallo and Forno were granted as count property respectively to Bernardino Valfrè of Bra, G. Antonio Cavalleri and Giuseppe Dalmazio. In 1927 the territories of the three villages were consolidated in Groscavallo Town Hall. GO TO THE PAGE