The community of Peia is situated on the western slopes of Val Gandino below the peak of Monte Pizzetto (1208 m) on the swift-flowing Romna, a tributary of the Serio. Peians refer generally to their 14 ‘contrade’, a traditional term for ‘neighbourhood’. Many are named after the important families who lived there, for example Ca' Zenucchi, Ca' Marino, Ca' Orazio, Ca' Bosio etc.
In the 15th century the community had its period of prosperity thanks to local sheep farming. The wool, known as ‘Peina’, went to the mills of Gandino to be woven. Peia is a kind of balcony over the Val Gandino so there are many spots with panoramic views. The parish church, “San Antonio di Padova”, was built between 1429 and 1614. It was then partly rebuilt in 1713 and the elegant elliptical choir added in 1738; the side-aisles were added on in 1904. Two altar-paintings worthy of note are by local Bergamo painters of the early Barque period: a Holy Trinity by Paola Cavagna (1627, the year of his death) and a Pietà by Francesco Zucco. The altar painting is The Ecstasy of St. Anthony by Ponziano Loverini from Gandino and dates from 1921.
The rustic church of S. Elisabetta dating from 1517 is on the old ‘wool road’. It was a strategically important link between Gandino and the Val Cavallina, from where the convoys of Gandino broadcloth could make their way to the markets of Europe.
The other churches are S. Rocco in “Cima Peia”, the Maddonna delle Grazie sanctuary, which has a Madonna and Child with St. John by a local artist from 1541 and a huge fresco by Gandino twntieth-entury artist Pietro Servalli. Then there’s the little chapel near the parish Church dedicated to S. Immacolata, the little S. Lucia in Ca’ Bosio and S. Urbano in Peia Bassa. To be seen also Monte Pizzo with the ‘Madonna della vita’ statue overlooking the whole Val Gandino. St. Anthony’s Day (la festa di S. Antonio Abate) on 17 January involves the blessing of animals and tractors and is a living link with the strong agricultural traditions of the community. The evening before, the various neighbourhoods make bonfires to chase out the winter; and the following Sunday there is a procession and offering of candle wax to the church, preceded by an unusual auction for the right to be first in the procession. On the first Sunday of Lent and the two preceding days, the dead are celebrated and remembered in the “Triduo dei Morti”, when the centre of the Church is occupied by an elaborate sunburst monstrance. The patron saint’s day, 13 June (St. Anthony’s Day), is a local holiday with a procession through the streets of the town. Then in midsummer there is the holiday of the “Madonna delle Grazie” on 5 August with a procession after sunset.
There are a couple of annual cycling events: the “Bruno Bertasa” memorial mountain-bike race and the International cycling competition Trofeo Comune di Peia. Taking advantage of the hillside, there’s also an annual soap-box derby, the Shuttle Box race. The summer Beer festival brings in visitors from all over Lombardy, and the start of autumn is marked by the Wild Boar Festival.