San Bernardo is the largest hamlet in Val di Rabbi and it also has the largest population. The valley’s town hall is located here as well as all main public amenities. Its economy, just like the rest of the valley, is based on tourism and agriculture.
The first settlements in Val di Rabbi date back to the 11th and 12th centuries when farmers that lived in the neighbouring towns of Malé, Terzolas and Caldes began to settle here. Before then, Val di Rabbi was used only on a seasonal basis by the population of these towns that used this valley for its numerous natural resources: the wood from its forests and the extensive mountain pastures for livestock during the summer months. This continued until the middle of the 15th century when there was a demographic boom in the valley. In 1513, the church in San Bernardo was consecrated, clearly showing that the population had increased. Starting in the 1400’s and up to the 1800’s, the valley was under the jurisdiction of a feudal family, the Thunn family. Then in the 1800’s, the “Corpo Civico di Rabbi” (municipality) was established. Numerous natural disasters struck this area over the centuries, one of the most tragic was the flood in 1789 that destroyed numerous homes, bridges, mills and sawmills.
Between 1957 and 1959 the current parish church was built, designed by the Trentino architect Efrem Ferrari, which replaced the old church that is mentioned in documents dating back to the beginning of the 15th century. The walls are made of granite blocks and it has a very steep roof with shingles, a typical characteristic of alpine architecture. The narrow bell tower, covered by pendentives, is located alongside the right wall of the church. The gabled façade of the church has a large fresco painting of St. Bernardo by Carlo Bonacina (1906-2001); the same artist also painted the large mural within the church. The interior layout is rectangular with a single nave. The majority of the sacred objects in the church (altars, paintings, statues) come from the previous church. The Stations of the Cross dated 1755 by Matthias Lamp, as well as an 18th century wooden altarpiece with a 17th century painting that has been attributed to Elia Naurizio (1589-1657), who is also the author of the canvass portraying “Our Lady of the Rosary” are all important works of art that can be found within the church. A stone baptismal font dating back to 1513 is located in a small niche in the northern wall.
Within the town of San Bernardo, in the area called Valorz, you can find the very first outdoor Kneipp area in Trentino. A special place where you can relax and take advantage of the benefits that hydrotherapy provides by using natural elements and flowing water to stimulate circulation.