Santa Maria Maggiore is a small village and a commune located in the Piedmont region of Italy in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola. The village is located 25 km from Verbania and 130 km away from the city of Turin. Santa Maria Maggiore is located on the border of Switzerland. The village is quite small, with an area of 53 sq km and a population of close to 1200.
Santa Maria Maggiore’s economy is mainly based on agriculture and cattle breeding activities and is not really a tourist destination. However, with the rise in agritourism many people are visiting the village to experience the true village lifestyle that is typical in Italy.
Getting to Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Maria Maggiore is located quite close to Turin and Verbania so getting down to the village is not that difficult. There is no airport or train station in the village, so the only way to reach the village is by road. The easiest way to reach Santa Maria Maggiore is by buses, the state buses operating in the region are quite punctual depart a few times every week from the bus stations in the nearby towns and villages in the province. Those who have their own cars can just as easily drive down to the village. The highways that lead up to Santa Maria Maggiore are quite scenic and enjoyable to drive.
Moving Around the Village
The best way to explore Sana Maria Maggiore is on foot. The village is quite small and there are any places to visit so most visitors prefer to walk around to explore the few attractions that are located in the heart of the village. Tourists who have their own cars can also drive around the town, but it might be a little difficult to drive around some of the narrow streets. Quite a lot of tourists also rent mopeds or scooters to visit the surrounding areas from the village, although mopeds are not required if you plan to only visit the attractions located within the village.
Attractions in Santa Maria Maggiore
Pinacoteca Rossetti Valentini
Pinacoteca Rossetti Valentini is a small art museum located on Via Rossetti Valentini in the village. The museum is quite small but it has an impressive collection of contemporary art pieces that are made by some well known artists of the region. The museum also has a collection of modern art, although there are only a handful of them in the gallery. The museum only has a permanent collection and it very rarely arranges for special exhibits.
Museo Dello Spazzacamino
The Museo Dello Spazzacamino is a very small museum that showcases the cultural, eccentric and special art pieces all related to the chimney sweepers in the Piedmont region. The museum had originally started in 1983 and gives information on the traditional occupation of the people of this valley which had been hit by emigration in the 16th century from France, Holland and Germany. There were also several children that had been employed in the occupation and were leased from their families for certain periods. A phenomenon of the juvenile exploitation ended in the past century because the chimneys have been replaced by stoves and other modern systems of heating. The Museum preserves the art work, clothing and tools (brushes, ropes) and also photography and publications on an occupation that characterized the period.
Via Gian Maria Farina
Via Gian Maria Farina is one of the most picturesque streets in Santa Maria Maggiore. The cobblestoned street is lined with shady trees and on both sides of the street are ancient houses, villas and charming old country homes that have been in the village for centuries. The street has several beautiful houses that have beautiful architecture, the most noteworthy being Casa Farina.
Stay and Accommodation
Santa Maria Maggiore is quite a small village so there aren’t many accommodation options for tourists. Although there aren’t many hotels in the town, there are a few that are comfortable and charming. Because of the rise in agritourism in the last few years, a few country homes, farm houses and old villas have now been converted to hotels and offer rooms on rent to visitors. These accommodations provide an authentic experience to tourists that are interested in staying in a real Piedmont country home in a family like atmosphere. Some of the best hotels in Santa Maria Maggiore are hotel Delle Alpi, hotel La Scheggia, hotel Miramonti, Grande Albergo Ostella, Albergo La Jazza and Agritourismo Al Pian Delle Lutte. There are also a few houses and villas which can be rented by tourists who are planning to stay longer in the region.
Eating in Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Maria Maggiore only has a few good restaurants, taverns and pizzerias where visitors can eat. Most of the restaurants in the town are small and run by the local families. The cuisine is traditional Italian and dishes that are typical to this region. Food here is simple and wholesome and typical to what would be found in mountain regions. Good wine and other drinks are available at almost all restaurants and bars. Some of the best restaurants in Santa Maria Maggiore are Ristorante Le Collone, Ristorante Da Branin, Ristorante La Scheggia, Ristorante pizzeria La Cortiletto, Ristorante Locarno, pizzeria Da Franco and Rifugio La Vasca.
Shopping in Santa Maria Maggiore
There are not many places in Santa Maria Maggiore where visitors can shop. Since it is just a small village, most shops here are for the local villagers. There are ancient markets that sell food items and dairy products. There are some clothes and jewelry stores, some shops selling decorative items and pottery too. Santa Maria Maggiore is mainly known for its mountain variety of cheeses, so the best thing to purchase from the village would be freshly made cheese. There are also a few bakeries that sell pastries that are traditionally made by the locals and the recipes have been handed down from generations. Visitors can also purchase wine from some of the wine shops in the village.