Ardesio has a population of about 3,670 and is in the Province of Bergamo. It is situated in the Seriana Valley in the Orobic Alps, on the left bank of the River Serio, on a high plain bordered by an amphitheatre of mountains covered by dense fir woods, fields and pastures. The village is a summer and winter sport centre and is noted for the frequent pilgrimages to the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie. Another church in the village centre is the Prepositurale di San Giorgio.
In the old days, Ardesio’s economy was based on the exploitation of its agricultural and forestry resources and its mining industry, of which its silver mines were well known. But today, its economy is commercial, linked to seasonal tourism and holidaymaking. The municipality comprises Ardesio itself and the hamlets of Valcanale, Zanetti, Marinoni, Bani, Cerete, Cacciamali, Ludrigno, Valzella, More, Piazzolo, Ave and Botto Alto, some of which are now uninhabited.
As well as being the name of the valley that open out to the west of the village, Valcanale is also the municipality’s principal hamlet. The main inhabited area, which is immersed in fir tree woods, stands at almost 1,000 metres above sea level, at the foot of Pizzo Arera (2,512 metres) and is the parish centre. At its highest point in the hamlet of Babes, there is a small lake in which are reflected the Dolomite-like peaks that surround the village. Valcanale is extremely popular with excursionists of all levels throughout the year. Numerous summer and winter itineraries begin from here, where the Orobic path also starts; the Refuge Alpe Corte is an hour’s walk from Valcanale and that is the first stage of the long itinerary that leads to the Passo della Presolana. The experts can climb Pizzo Arera (2,512 metres), Cima di Corna Piana (2,302 metres), Cima Valmora (2,198 metres) and Mount Corte (2,493 metres) or make their way to Refuge Laghi Gemelli, about a three hour walk. During the winter months, the track that leads to the Refuge Alpi Corte is suitable for walks with snow shoes and there are numerous itineraries for alpine skiers, but these must be undertaken in safe snow conditions.
Along the Valcanale from Ardesio there are other hamlets and suburbs which are equally fascinating, as well as a number of high quality nature sites like Nevaio Val Las which, at an altitude of 1,000 metres and at the foot of the imposing wall of Mount Secco (2,267 metres), is the lowest perennial snowfield of all the alps. The surrounding area has a variety of flowers typical of the higher altitude zones and is a unique eco-system, visited by scholars and botany enthusiasts. Lastly, there is Bani, a hamlet in an especially panoramic area and which hosts a museum devoted to Don Brignoli, well known as the ‘ol’ priest of Ba’.