The Grigna Settentrionale Regional Park extends over the territories belonging to the municipalities of Cortenova, Esino Lario, Parlasco, Pasturo, Perledo, Primaluna, Taceno, Varenna. Among the little art treasures, in the many churches situated all over the Park's area, it is possible to find masterpieces such as the paintings by Luigi Reali (a painter from Florence who stayed in Valsassina in the Seventeenth Century) kept in Pasturo, in the Sant'Eusebio Church and in the Madonna della Cintura Sanctuary, or in the churches of Varenna, ranging from the romanesque to the baroque style.
Esino Lario is the only municipality whose territory is entirely included in the Parco della Grigna Settentrionale, so that it can be considered as the heart of the Protected Area. Important characters have admired, studied and paid homage to the surrounding area: also Leonardo Da Vinci was fascinated by this territory's nature, vegetation and animals, as it is proved by his "Codex Atlanticus". Then Stopponi studied and classified the local fossils during his long stays, when he wrote "Les pietrifications d'Esino" to describe the ammonites, bivalves, the chemnitzia which can be found in this area's rocks.
Villa Monastero in Varenna is a place of culture, science and history at the same time. Culture, because some important art and decor collections collected by the owners over the last centuries are kept in here. Science, because since the early 1950's the Nobel Prize recipients (such as Enrico Fermi) have attended international courses on physics here. History, because it dates back to the 13th century, when the villa was an humble monastery belonging to the nuns of the Cistercensi order.
Parlasco was once crossed by a street (and it still is, with different features and along a new trail) that from Portone, situated between Taceno and Bellano, connected the lake bank with Valsassina, which was used by armies during their transfers. To protect this important passage, a fortress called Rocca di Marmoro was built, as it is proved by an essay dating back to 1368 on the incomes of the church of Primaluna.
Someone has named it "the villa of the witches". With its decadent charm, its scraped off walls, its large broken windows reminding huge decayed teeth, Villa de Vecchi in Cortenova would be the ideal set for a horror movie. Furthermore a lot of tales and legends are handed down on the nineteenth-century dwelling. Imagination? Almost certainly.
Considering his role in Valsassina's history it is worthwhile to let the historian Arrigoni speak: "It was the fortress of Bajedo - when Franceso Sforza tried to conquer the Duchy of Milan in the mid-fifteenth century - a very significant place as far as art and nature are concerned, as well as impregnable fortress."