Piazzola is the highest hamlet in the municipality of Rabbi (1314 m), with an enchanting view that overlooks the entire Rabbi valley. Surrounding Piazzola, which is the largest hamlet of the valley after San Bernardo, you will see numerous small groups of houses; each location has its own name including Peter, Mattarei, Maset, Serra, Cotorni, Nistela, Masnovo and Molignon which are the main ones. In the nearby location called Somrabbi, an old “caseificio turnario” (a traditional dairy where each day the dairy products that are produced belong to one of the members, this rotation is proportional to the amount of milk that each member brings to the dairy) has been turned into a museum of rural traditions linked to cattle breeding, an activity that today is still important in Val di Rabbi.
The colonisation of Val di Rabbi began in the late Middle Ages by people from the town of Malé. The place name Piazzola, which refers to a small, flat and open place called a “plateola”, can be found in a document dated 1386. Just like the rest of the valley, Piazzola first was under the feudal jurisdiction of the lords of Cagnò-Caldes, then the Thunn family (from the second half of the 15th century through to 1824). During the 18th century the hamlet represented one of the five “colomelli” (rural community) of the valley, each with its own Assembly, an advisory council of the Thunn’s vicarial office. In August 1800, Piazzola together with all of the other rural areas of the valley, became part of the “Corpo Civico di Rabbi” in other words it became a municipality. In 1748, the first chapel was built in Piazzola and the town therefore had its very own priest, and then in 1784 it became a parish church.
The current church dedicated to the Madonna of Loreto was built in 1836, replacing the previous church that had been built between 1751 and 1753 by the nearby areas of Crespion, Piazzola and Somrabbi. The gabled façade is divided by four lesenes cut by a horizontal column with a tympanum on top. The interior has a single central nave with two side chapels before the apse. There are well preserved 20th century wall paintings by Barcatta and Egger on the vault and apse semi-dome. The church also has three 18th century wooden altars with marble-like decorations. The altar dedicated to San Giovanni Nepomuceno comes from the ancient church of San Biagio in the town of Malé and was a gift by Count Innocenzo Thunn in 1794. The canvasses with the Stations of the Cross come from the workshop of Matthias Lamp.
In the nearby area called Somrabbi, an old traditional dairy called the “Casèl di Somrabbi” has been turned into a museum dedicated to the production of dairy products. Thanks to the Stelvio National Park, the dairy has been restored and visitors can now take part in guided tours of the dairy during which it is also possible to sample local products. The museum is divided into two areas where you will find more than 120 tools and instruments that were once commonly used in rural settings, like “zangole” butter churns, cauldrons and traditional fireplaces plus numerous informative panels that show just how milk is turned into various dairy products like butter and ricotta cheese. Visitors will be able to see all of the steps involved in the production of dairy products: including milking the animals, transporting milk to the dairy in special containers that were once made of wood, then copper and now aluminium, filtering and skimming milk, how butter is produced using a butter churn and how other typical products like cheese and smoked ricotta are made.