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Under Doctor's Orders:
Balbido – The Painted Village

Story and photos by Tom Weber

road sign to Balbido

ust a short drive from my spa-wellness retreat at the Grand Hotel in Terme di Comano, via winding roads that cut through the panoramic rolling hills of the Giudicarie Valley, sits a small, animated village deserving of an art critic's eye: Balbido. She's the latest Under Doctor's Orders photo-shoot destination.

Buckle up, per favore.

houses in Balbido showing hand-painted murals

Known as the paese dipinto (painted village), more than 200 original, hand-painted murals adorn the homes of this traditional little alpine village tucked away high up in the Bleggio Plateau, surrounded by the Brenta Dolomites of the Trentino Alto Adige region of northern Italy.

close-up of two of the more than 200 hand-painted murals in Balbido

Boasting numerous features of its long-standing farming heritage, Balbido's landscape is dotted by grandiose houses with their attached, vaulted stables and barns topped by wooden attics to store hay and firewood for the long, harsh winter. Not too unusual for this corner of the Dolomites except most of the walls of these dwellings are suitable for framing.

more murals in Balbido

Extremely proud of their past, the villagers, in the 1980s, wholeheartedly agreed to permit members of the Gruppo Itinerante Murales Naïf (Itinerant Group of Naïf Muralists) to create an array of artwork on the exterior walls of their homes that would depict Balbido's rich heritage, traditions and values, and express village life at its core: hard work, honest living, dreams, feelings and passion.

murals done by the Itinerant Group of Naf Muralists

Combining the Naïf Art style with graffiti-based techniques, the artists set to work, each individually assigned a different residence to serve as their canvas. When the paint dried, this little village out of nowhere suddenly became an open-air art museum that immediately began attracting the curious.

No worse for wear, many of the "urban art" pieces remain pristine today, as if they were unveiled to the public, and the homeowner, just yesterday.

Along with the Naïf Art murals, Balbido – home to some of the friendliest people you'll ever encounter – is a picture-postcard perfect photo-shoot locale. Around every corner, it seems, something interesting to frame just pops out and says, Salve! (hello)

There's no entry fee to enter this one-of-a-kind, out-in-the-open art gallery, but do look both ways when crossing the street inside the painted village of Balbido.

For complete information on Balbido, and other hidden gems around the Brenta Dolomites of the Trentino, visit the Terme di Comano Office of Tourism website.

Next up on the Under Doctor's Orders photo shoots, a prehistoric community that literally walked on water: Fiave'.

Related Articles:
Skiing the Dolomites; Traveling in Northern Italy; The Little Village Atop the Hill; Piovene Rocchette; Sutri: A Canterbury Trail

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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

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Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

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Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: Thanks for stopping by and commenting..


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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal

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