1-day tour: AN UNKNOW EMERALD: THE VARA VALLEY

We meet the guide and departure for Varese Ligure by coach following the valley of the Vara River. This village is still keeping its old urban structure as a treasure. This structure is unique and is called “borgo rotondo” – round old center – in which squares, streets and buildings have grown around the church or the castle along curve lines making an evocative layout and beautiful pieces of architecture.

Varese Ligure was the gateway between the Republic of Genova and the Po-Lombard Duckiest. Varese Ligure is the capital of the Vara valley and the largest commune of the valley. Its territory keeps all the most important historic, monumental and artistic memories of the valley.

We visit Piazza Fieschi with its Castle, San Filippo Neri Church that houses superb paintings. Among them we see an impressive baroque painting of Gregorio de Ferrari who worked in Genoa in 1600. We get to the Parrish Church and the Oratory of S. Antonio e Rocco that is one of the most acclaimed monuments in the district of Varese Ligure.

Free time for dashing around, browsing among shops and buying the typical products of this region such as the “corzetti”, small discs of pasta decorated with flower patterns and delicious with pesto sauce, or the “sciuette”, small sweets prepared by the closed order of the Augustinian nuns who stick a secret recipe.

We can find dried boletus and mushrooms, different kinds of cheese, sausages and some traditional sweets such as the “Buccellato”, the “Pan dolce” and in fall the “Castagnaccio” made of chestnut flour, pine-seeds and raisin.

Lunch at a restaurant.

In the afternoon, we travel to Pignone. It is a small village, very old and with some typical features of the Ligurian hinterland. We have a nice walk, we discover an ancient bridge, a public loggia that dates back to Medieval Age and we can go shopping in the “botteghe” for some delicious sausages.

We then travel to Brugnato. It is the ancient Diocese which was a rival of Luni in the Middle Ages. Brugnato became a Diocese in 1133 but the Cathedral dates back to the 6th c. when it was founded by the Irish monk San Colombano.

The village is tong-shaped and there is a lot of interesting evidence of its glorious past. We walk along the main street, which stretches between Porta Soprana e Porta Sottana, the Piazza Maggiore. We visit the Cathedral, which dates back to 11th c. and houses an unusual archaeological path.

Many little shops sell the typical products of Brugnato’s gastronomy, which is closely related to the Ligurian traditions. Here we can find some cavagnetto and canestrello sweets, the local dairy products (caciotte, ricotta and scamorza). The sausages are prepared following a farmer recipe and are excellent.