Ossana is a great tourist destination due to the richness of its history over the centuries. The town is located just before Val di Peio and at the foot of the peaks of the Presanella mountain group. The urban development of the town has greatly improved over the last few years together with its amenities and facilities. The result is a perfect compromise between its touristic ambitions and other activities like agriculture, commerce and artisanship.
Centuries ago, Ossana was the political, administrative and ecclesiastical centre of the upper part of Val di Sole mainly due to the fact that is located right where two side valleys start, Vermiglio and Peio. In 1183 a plebatus (parish priest) is mentioned in a document and in 1191 the castrum Vulsane (a fortified nucleus) is also mentioned in another document. The ancient name Vulsana derives from the personal name Volsius or Vulso. Recent archaeological finds on the San Michele hill have confirmed that there was a settlement here during the Bronze Age. During the Middle Ages and in modern times it was a thriving village, mainly due to the iron extracted from the mines in Comasine and iron working in the nearby forges (hence the name of the town Fucine –forge) in addition to trade with the Lombard valleys. Its history is closely linked to that of its castle, which was often contended over by the Bishops of Trento and the Counts of Tyrol and then inhabited by various feudal families over the centuries, including the Federici then the Heydorf and the Bertelli. During the peasant revolt called the “Guerra Rustica” in 1525 the castle was sacked and placed under siege. On November 5th 1918, at the end of WWI, Italian troops came down from Tonale and set fire to the old rectory, which had many 18th century furnishings.
In an old house in the centre of the old town, a cycle of 15th and 16th century frescoes of great interest have recently been discovered. The parish church of Saint Virgil is situated in the upper part of the village. Only the large bell tower belongs to romantic times, while the present structure dates to end of the 15th and middle of the 16th centuries. The Renaissance portal in the façade carries the date 1536. Inside, the single nave, covered by a ribbed barrel vault, holds three altars. The main altar is made of wood, which was carved by Ramus (17th century), the right hand marble altar was sculptured by Marchesini (1665) from Verona and the left hand marble altar is the work of Trentino craftsmen (18th century). The church of Saint Anthony is situated on the Tomino hills outside the village. The church is surrounded by the 13 niches of the Way of the Cross. This is the most important Baroque building in Val di Sole and was built between 1686 and 1718. Inside one finds stucco work by Comaschi craftsmen, frescoes by Dalla Torre and paintings (1748-1751) by Domenico Bonora (1685-1758), a painter from Cavalese.
The very first thing that visitors see as they arrive in Ossana is of course, the breathtaking San Michele castle. The castle is located right on top of a rocky spur in a strategic and panoramic position. Recent excavation work has confirmed that it was already inhabited during the Bronze Age. It very likely dates back to the Lombard period, but the first written documents concerning the castle are from the year 1191. It belonged to the Bishops of Trento up until the end of the 13th century when it was seized by count Mainardo of Tyrol. Then it was owned by various noble families over the centuries, including the Federici, the Heydorfs and the Bertelli and placed under siege by the peasants during the “Guerra Rustica” in 1525. The castle is surrounded by two lines of walls and a 16th century bastion. The castle’s tower is its most characteristic feature, a 25 meter high tower that dominates over the entire valley and it is also the most well preserved architectural element of the whole complex.
Since 1992 the castle belongs to the Autonomous Province of Trento that has restored it and is now open to the public.
Just to the east of the town of Ossana, surrounding the church of Saint Antonio, there is the former Austro-Hungarian war cemetery where more than 1400 soldiers, that lost their lives during WWI on the Tonale war front, were buried here. Here there is also a monument dedicated to the Kaiserschütze (Austro-Hungarian mountain troops) by Othmar Schrott-Vorst, 1917. The area is now called “Parco della Pace” as a symbol of peace and fraternity between different populations.
During the Christmas holidays, all of the hidden corners, old homes, cellars, barns, windows and piles of wood outside of all of the homes are turned into a spectacular and magical exhibit with more than 100 nativity scenes from all over Trentino.
And during the summer season, in an area within the town called Derniga, you can visit a botanical garden where 26 different species of trees, shrubs and plants that can be found in Val di Sole and in the forests of Trentino, have been placed. This was once an old forest nursery that already existed at the beginning of the 1900’s, which at the time was an important economic activity for the area. Today, it has been restored and turned into a learning centre for schools and visitors.