A tiny dot on the map up in the Bleggio Plateau of the Trentino’s Giudicarie area is the focus of my latest photo shoot: Rango.
One of only four designated Borghi più belli d’Italia (the most beautiful villages of Italy) around the region, this village gets high marks for maintaining its rich historical past and overall appearance. It’s picture-postcard perfect.
Back in the day, Pliny the Elder noted that the inhabitants of Rango were transplanted Etruscans from the Po Valley who re-settled in the Brenta Dolomites to escape the invading hordes of Gauls and became known from then on as Raetians.
Rango — a bustling metropolis of a couple dozen carved-out-of-the-bedrock homes that lean on each other for support and stability — has a rich folkloric past. At first glance, it appears as if Father Time didn’t move a muscle as the mountainside village with its rocky architecture remains true to its roots.
During my walk around, I made my way through low-ceilinged archways, narrow undulating alleys, across a few footbridges and through open courtyards.
It wasn’t until the tail end of the shoot that I finally came into contact with a real-life descendant of the Raetians of Rango named Giuseppe. He was a rustic-looking, friendly man who was hard at work down at the large granite fountain in the main square washing his… walnuts.
Turns out, the fertile highlands have been the perfect growing spot for walnut trees that have been yielding the “pride of the valley” since the 16th century, the Bleggio walnut.
With a thin shell that’s easy to crack, the meaty inside has a pleasant taste and spicy flavor. The prized nuts are added to regional desserts, turned into a strong liquor called nocino and even used in producing walnut salami, the rave of the area and beyond.
Rango, one nutty village worthy of a visit. If you run into Giuseppe down at the fountain, do tell him I said hello.