Colletta is situated within the unspoilt Pennavaria valley, stretching from the Maritime alps of Piedemont to the historic town of Albenga on the Italian Riviera of Palms. Ancient hillside stone villages are perched on the sunny side of the valley among terraces of olives and cherry trees, facing the rocky peak of Castel Ermo. The local produce keeps the valleys restaurants in excellent supply of ligurian delights. There is excellent walking, often along ancient mule trails as well as climbing and cycling routes.
Italian Riviera of Palms.
Not as flash as its French neighbour, the Italian Riviera has a charm all of its own as well as style, history, culture and opportunities for fun and adventure.
An hours drive on the motorway or a mornings scenic drive along the coast will take you to Monaco, Nice and Cannes.
The historic cities of Génova, Impéria, San Remo and the spectacular coast of La Spézia and the Cinque Terre can all be reached in easy day trips from Colletta.
Turin, Asti, Alba, Alessándria.
Alassio – Jewel of the Riviera.
Alassio, the “queen of the Riviera delle Palme” is one of the most famous seaside resorts in Liguria. Its 4km of sandy beaches are gently lapped by the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea, against the backdrop of the green hills and valleys of the Maritime Alps.
Founded some time in the 6th-7th centuries, Alassio became the property of nearby Albenga in the 1300s before finally gaining its independence in the 16th century. In the 1800s it became the playground of wealthy English tourists and the Art Nouveau architecture, gardens and luxury hotels date from this period.
The historical centre retains its authentic Ligurian character, typified by a long narrow main street running parallel to the waterfront. The main street, Via XX Settembre (or “budello” as it is known) is lined with chic boutiques, gelaterie, pasticcerie, cafes and restaurants. A few steps down one of the side streets (known as “esci”) leads you to the beach, where any one of the many waterside cafes will be pleased to serve you a glass of wine, a coffee or a meal under the shade of their umbrellas.
Two blocks from the beach up Via Cavour in the Piazza Libertà, you will find the charming “muretto”. This is the work of the proprietor of the Caffè Roma, who, in the 1950s decided to commemorate the visits of his famous guests to his cafe by placing decorative tiles on the wall of the Piazza. You will find artefacts dedicated to the visits of all kinds of celebrities, ranging from literary icons such Ernest Hemingway, to entertainment celebrities such as Anita Ekberg, to sporting greats like Alberta Tomba.
The legend of Alassio …..
According to legend, Alassio owes its existence to the tale of two young lovers: Adelasia, daughter of Otto I of Saxony, Holy Roman Emperor from 936-972, and Aleramo, a young man in his court. The two fell in love, but were forbidden to be together by the Emperor, so they fled to the area around Albenga, marrying and having children there. Eventually, Otto I came to visit the Bishop of Albenga and during his visit, forgave his daughter and her husband, and gave them all the lands in the area that Aleramo could reach on horseback in one day. His name is remembered today in the area known as the “Marca Aleramica” stretching from the Po river down to the coast near Alassio. A town grew up in this area and was named “Alaxia” in honour of the Emperor’s daughter, becoming “Alassio” with the passage of time.
Albenga – 2500 years of Liguria.
Albenga is one of the greatest cities of Roman origin on the Rivieria di Ponente, and has one of the best preserved old centres. There are numerous reminders of the Roman times still visible in the valley, and particularly along the roman road that leads to Alassio, the Via Julia Augusta. The old town of Albenga is rich in medieval towers and houses. The River Centa runs alongside the city walls, and the nature park at the river’s mouth is an ideal spot for observing the many sea-birds of the area.
The old town is now going through a phase of revival, and many of the historic piazzettas are being sruced up. A charming feature is ‘I Caruggi degli Artisti’ – a number of the narrow alleys on the west side of the centro storico are lined with paintings, many of them directly on doors or walls.
Cosio di Arroscia.
Cosio di Arroscia is a tiny feudal village perched in the mountains of the Arroscia valley, in the hinterland of Albenga surrounded by fields of lavender and grapevines that produce the region’s famous Dolcetto wine. Another defensive feudal seat of the powerful Clavesana family, the village passed into the hands of the Republic of Genoa in 1274. Of particular interest are the many covered passages that allow the inhabitants unhindered movement around their village, even when winter snows cover the land, and the occasional trompe l’oeil decorations.
Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena.
Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena is perched in a stunning location in the mountains of the Neva valley. The medieval houses cluster in a circle around the base of the castle, which was built in the 12th century as fortification against the raids into the interior by the Saracens, and is nowadays privately owned.
Over time, the inhabitants of Castelvecchio had drifted away from the old village into newer housing in the surrounding areas. However, much of Castelvecchio has today been reconstructed and reinhabited. The architecture is noteworthy for its mixture of mediterranean-style terracotta roofs and typically ligurian narrow winding stone stone streets and windows with decorative plaster surrounds.
Laigueglia is a pretty pastel coloured village whose centre still preserves its ancient Ligurian layout. The church of San Matteo is beautiful, and local tradition has it that the two crosses atop the tower face into the two prevailing winds (the maestrale and the libeccio) to protect the fishermen of the village whilst they are searching for coral, the trade in which was particularly important to the village in the Middle Ages.
Savona is the most important port and industrial centre of the Riviera Ponente. It’s original nucleus is the Fort of Priamar, which was already a seaside fortified area at the time of the ligurian Sabazi peoples, then a roman stronghold, a byzantine stronghold and eventually a Genovese fortress.
Savona was capital of the roman Marca Aleramica and, after 1000 was a port and flourishing market because of its nearness to the pass of Cadibona.
The walled medieval city grew towards the seaside and the towards the Letimbro stream in the 12th century, and then again in the succeeding century.
In addition to Priamar, the other points of interest include the Brandale tower and the medieval palazzi, the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the art gallery.
A feudal village and castle built to control the approaches to Albenga, Zuccarello has preserved its architecture and atmosphere over the centuries.