The History

Since the prehistory, the area that looks onto the built-up centre was probably frequented by the ancient inhabitants of the Camonica Valley, so that on the Cerreto hill has been found an oldest place of worship.
The territory has been marked over the centuries by different populations: as from the 16 BC with the arrival of the Romans, then followed by the Barbarians in the 375 AD and by the Longobards in the 568 AD.
Beginning from the tenth-century, the Benedictines introduced in Bienno the use of the mills, whose paddle wheels were well suited to the current of the Grigna stream. It is possible to assume that already about the year one thousand had been tested the necessary changes of the water wheel transformation, such as to adapt it for the operation of the hammer.
Thanks to the richness of forests that supplied the fuel and to the water abundance, from which was generated the motive-power, in Bienno has been developed a thriving economic activity linked to the production and trade of handmade irons.
The construction of the first sections of the duct “Vaso Rč” (Ré Duct) dates back to the year one thousand, which carries the water of the Grigna stream to supply the necessary energy to the hydraulic wheels for moving both the heavy hammers used for the iron forging and the mills and sawmills.
The century of the highest splendour for the rich village of Bienno, was the 1400.
There have been preserved numerous traces and testimonies in the monuments, in many noble residences and in the construction or readjustment of the towers of the old medieval complex.
The village was then under the Venetian domination for about three hundred years, until the end of the 700, exploiting the art of the forgemen for the production of weapons and tools of various kinds.
A serious general crisis of the metallurgical sector was overcome in the seventeenth century, thanks to an intervention of the Venetian Republic in support of the iron forging art. But the arrival of the Second Industrial Revolution made it difficult to keep pace with the industry so much that it gradually forced the closure of almost the totality of the forges.