Sites and monuments

 

  The Arroscia Valley in general  

  Visiting the Community  

  Municipalities of Community  

 


The Arroscia Valley in general

The spectacular conformation of the landscape, the healthy air and the very comfortable hotels favour tourist activities both in summer and in winter.
The altitude of its inhabited centres varies along a scale ranging from the 118 m. of Ranzo Borgo to the 1263 m. of San Bernardo di Mendatica.
The valley, closed in by a wonderfully green frame with ample olive groves and centuriesold woods of chestnut and beech trees, is exceedingly inviting for the infinite possibilities of walks in the invigorating fresh air that smells of hay and lavender.
The site is fascinating for the romantic melancholy it offers due to its nature, which has been left intact, and the presence of people respectful of the environment.
It attracts the tourist and the holiday-maker for its climate, temperate and well-ventilated during the summer months, dry and not too cold in winter, for the exciting alpine ascents on Mongioje (2630 m.), Beltrand (2481 m.) Saccarello (2200 m.) and Frontè (2153 m.), for the beauty of its landscape, its art, its history, its good cuisine and the traditional hospitality of its inhabitants.
It is also a strong attraction for all those who appreciate trout, mushrooms, good homemade bread, the products of local pasturage, «Sciachetrà» and «Pigato», and for those who enjoy winter sports, by going up to the ski runs of Monesi (1301 m.) the « white paradise of the Riviera of Flowers ».
It can offer quiet and comfortable holiday centres in its quaint little villages, in the silent valleys or bravely clinging to rocky crests, among ancient castles that are a reminder of far-off unknown times and old sanctuaries that invite the soul to contemplation and prayer.

Top of page


Visiting the Community

Following the course of the torrent upstream to Ranzo, a road branches off across scattered villages and pretty little villas, and reaches Aquila d'Arroscia dominated by the imposing ruins of the XII century Castle of Aquila that stands impressively on the opposite bank of the Pennavaira torrent, the keystone of the defences of the Commune of Albenga in its battles against the Clavesanas.
The Castle of Ranzo, now a mere ruin, on the buttress where the valley turns slightly towards the west, was in fact always a possession of the Clavesanas.


Ranzo: chiesa Romanica di S. Pantaleo

Where the torrent narrows, dividing the lower valley, which opens towards Albenga from the pleasant hollow of Borghetto and Vessalico, almost at the foot of the castle at the edge of the road, the church of San Pantaleo displays its austere and superb elegance.
It is undoubtedly the most ancient and characteristic monument of the whole valley and has gained greater significance owing to the column of the fourteenth century church, reduced to a single nave in the sixteenth century, which stands like a milestone on the church square.

The apse still remains to testify the existence of the proto-Romanesque church of the XI century, while another apse of the same build and symmetry has been added to the north in late Medieval times.
On the ridge between the Carnareo and San Giacomo streams, which flow down from Aquila, is Costa Bacelega, the highest and prettiest hamlet of the Commune of Ranzo.
The borough is dominated by the old parish church dedicated to Saint Bernard.
Next to it there is the Oratory, no longer used for worship, owing to the damages caused to it during the Partisan resistance.
Following the road, we arrive at Borghetto d'Arroscia, a perfect «road-side hamlet», which was called Borghetto dell'Acqua Torta (Crooked water) up to the last century, because of a sudden turn that the torrent Arroscia takes to the north, around the promontory of Costarossa, and then returns to its original direction towards the east.
This was one of the localities of the valley that in 1232 joined with others to found Pieve di Teco, as we shall see later. Not far from here is Vessalico, another of the centres of the lower valley with many buildings and portals of late Medieval times.
Its most important monument is the church of S. Andrea of the XII century, a little jewel hidden among woods and olive groves and only a stone's throw from the village on the 45 way to Lenzari.
Soon after crossing the bridge on the Arroscia at the turn that the road makes at right angles, is the Oratory of the Visitation, an architectural monument of perfect harmony and sober elegance dated 1778.
Standing on a short terrace with the hills for background, the little church with its polygonal plan has a particularly picturesque setting.


The gothic arcades of Pieve di Teco

We now reach Pieve di Teco, the centre and main town of the whole valley, and although the names of many of its villages are pre-Roman Ligurian, non Roman remains have yet been found.
The castle of Teco which had been the stronghold of the Clavesanas and was probably the site of a Byzantine fortress conquered by the Longobards, remained efficient until late Medieval times, whilst today only its name remains, with just a few ruins to explore.

At the end of the valley where several important roads leading to the sea converge (the «salt-ways» as these roads which connected Piedmont to the Riviera were called in ancient times) on the left bank of the Arroscia, is a borough built in the XIII century and the reality-legend of its foundation is recorded by a local chronicler.
The plan of the town is very regular with a large street with arcades in the centre, and a series of buildings and houses closed in by the crossways that separate them (called «carruggi ») typical of the constructed areas of the Genoese region.
The parish church of Acquetico, a hamlet of Pieve di Teco is also worth a visit for the elegance of it design.
This site was called Aiguevive until the end of the VII century because of its abundant waters, which make the l'and fertile and well-irrigated. At Nirasca, another hamlet of Pieve di Teco in the vicinity, there is a Madonna of the XV century by Pinturicchio's school.
The valley, that turns to the west and descends towards Pieve di Teco by the national route no. 28, is dominated on the east by the Castle of Cartari, in a unique strategic position according to Medieval values, acting as key to both the upper and middle valley of the Arroscia. Its most important monument is the church of S. Giorgio di Calderara, isolated from the village and of Romanesque origin, although mostly rebuilt in late Medieval times.
The valley is crossed by an imposing viaduct that leads to the tunnel under Colle S. Bartolomeo.


The castle of Clavesana, in Rezzo

The adjoining valley is the one of Giara di Rezzo, an affluent of the Arroscia also called Puglia or Lavina, with Rezzo at its head.
The village was originally grouped around the castle that stands on high.
A road branches off rising to the northern side of the Valley, which has been terraced long ago by the local inhabitants to cultivate the cereals needed for their subsistence.
This has brought into existence small «plots» obtained between the rocks, made with transported soil, which testifies the hard work needed by man for his survival.

This branch of the road leads to Cenova, a small rural village, once famous for its situation on one of the most important «seaways», which passing through Prealbe joined Oneglia to Piedmont.

The valley of the torrent Arogna, another affluent of the Arroscia, flows from the north to Pieve di Teco, and at its extremity there is the smallest commune of Italy: Armo, where in the sixteenth century parish church dedicated to the Nativity of Mary, there is a triptych on wood of the XV century.
The principal branch of the Arroscia torrent rises from Pieve di Teco towards its springs to Pornassio, Cosio, Mendatica and Montegrosso, centres of great vitality, with grouped constructions spread out on the hillside to the south.
The upper Arroscia constitutes a forced passage between the higher Monregale moor and the Riviera, and this is why in past centuries, the rulers along the borders tried in every possible way to gain concrete rights on the areas of transit, and especially on Pornassio, a community spread out in various groups along the hillside to the south of Colle di Nava.
This village, an important centre on the «saltroad», which as we have already mentioned, descended from the Prealbe Pass and rose to Nava, has several archaic houses still partly intact and partly rebuilt, leaving the quaint structures as they were originally.
Nava is situated in a large green bowl that looks out over the valley of the Arroscia. A starting point for walks and excursions, it stands at the centre of a system of fortifications of the Napoleonic period, which include the so-called sentry forts that guard the Pass and the fortress of Mount Escia.
Cosio stands guard over the whole of the upper Arroscia basin. The closely knit village has the shape of a long spindle, with many picturesque alleys, and is dominated by the ancient and elegant Romanesque bell tower with a pointed spire of the XIII century.
Cosio d'Arroscia offers a splendid view over the upper valley. It was the site of a powerful feudal castle, now inexistent, which passed to the Lengueglias towards the end of the XIV century, thereby becoming united to the Republic of Genoa.
Spreading out on a vast slope, with its typical alpine houses, Mendatica has in its parish church of Saints Nazario and Celso another example of a bell tower of the XIV century with its original two-light mullioned windows brought back to life.
On a narrow terrace on the wooded slopes of Mount Monega, in a splendid panoramic position dominating the upper Arroscia valley, is Montegrosso Pian Latte, with its archaic houses held up by concealed arches it, maintains wholly the characteristic of an ancient mountain village.

Top of page


Municipalities of Community

Aquila d'Arroscia

Armo

Borghetto d'Arroscia

Cosio d'Arroscia

Mendatica

Montegrosso Pian Latte

Pieve di Teco

Pornassio

Ranzo

Rezzo

Vessalico

Top of page