Varese Ligure

A  day trip to Varese Ligure

On Sunday we had a short trip to discover Varese Ligure, the so-called ”Borgo Rotondo”, only forty kilometers from Levanto.

The village is one of the ”most beautiful villages in Italy”, awarded the orange flag in 2006, is part of the well-known ”Organic Valley”. According to Legambiente it’s the most ecological municipality of Italy, thanks to its wind power station.
Going there out of season we were lucky enough to walk through this village practically unchanged over the centuries alone, accompanied only by the sound of our footsteps on the stone pebbles and the pungent scent of burnt wood.

Local history

It dates back to the Byzantine age and its historical importance was immediately marked by the privileged geographical position, at the crossroads between Genoa, Parma and La Spezia along the river Vara and then immediately seat of a market trading.
The village was built on the basis of a real settlement project by the Fieschi in the thirteenth century, and that is why even today we admire the brick houses all identical to each other.

After a series of property passages between the noble families of Genoa and of the Val di Taro, in the middle of the sixteenth century, it passed under the Republic of Genoa.  This till the reorganization wanted by Napoleon, who in 1797 annexed the neo Ligurian Republic to the Empire of France, by appointing Levanto chief town of the department.

Our visit

Many traces of the history of the village are still visible and valuable. In addition to the topography which carries with it the various steps from the Byzantine period onward and the structure of the medieval village still intact.

The Fieschi Castle has an immense value , it welcomes those who arrive in the village and impresses with its two towers, known as ”the Piccinino ”and” Manfredo Landi. ”

Of Historical importance was also the Fieschi Castle on Mount Tanano, today only a ruin, also because its walls were destroyed to be used as material of the houses of the Borgo Rotondo.

Remains of the walls are still visible here and there, but the core of all it is, without a doubt,the village itself, with its stone houses placed in ellipse and characterized by arcades and side narrow streets  along the perimeter, home to warehouses and workshops of great charm. Also very nice the Civic Tower and the Bridge of Grecino.

A curiosity for those who loves history and literature as me: in the center is also placed Palazzo Ferrari and in its chapel were was celebrated the wedding between the marquis Domenico Pallavicini and Luigia Ferrari to which Foscolo dedicated his ode ”A Luigia Pallavicini caduta da cavallo”.

Calzoleria Marenco

Among many shops still exist and active, my passion-health for shoes and handbags  led me to the threshold of the Calzoleria Marenco, a paradise.

Here the production is still on demand and custom-made, starting from an existing template or from a simple personal idea according to a fashion or just to satisfy the personal taste of the customer. Everything is done by hand, from the first steps to the last seam and cleaning and polishing are guaranteed free for life …

I recommend you to open the door and enter, just only for the charm of this small workshop, the cradle of true art. For fans, you can also see the site of this historic workshop.

The Croxetti

Another shop in my opinion not to be missed is that of Pietro Pacetti, a former bank now artisan creator of wooden molds for the ”croxetti” or in Italian corzetti.

It is an home made pasta typical of the area, like a small, round lasagna, decorated with these molds, which reproduce more or less ancient designs, tailored according to dynasty and events to celebrate.

These designs have not only an aesthetic function but, in fact, they hold the dressing and it seems that the printing pressure does not allow  the pasta to overcook. In addition to the very traditional meat sauce or pesto, are also excellent with the white pesto, made with pine nuts, garlic and marjoram.

I bought a mold and pinned the recipe. Now I just have to wait the first Sunday of willingness to roll up the sleeves, roll out the dough and crush the pine nuts in a mortar … I will let you know!

I really suggest you to come and spend some hours in this ”border” village, an oasis of tranquility ideal after visiting the crowded Cinque Terre, which will offer all the charm of the past and whose artisans will welcome you with joy.