The Adelasia reserve in the Cairo Montenotte area is a park with over fifty hectares of beech forest which boasts some very ancient trees and trunks of such size that they cannot be hugged by one person alone.
It is a peaceful green area and its paths are long and wide enough so they never get crowded even during the summer weekends when people come here to have a picnic and hike in the woods to escape the coastal madness.
Inside and around the park there are many farmhouses which are excellent examples of rural architecture despite their smashed roofs and they are still preserved for their artistic value.
There is a Cascina (Italian name for farmhouse) at the entrance of the park of Adelasia which has been chosen to be a restaurant.
It is one of the few old buildings that have been renovated and it’s a beautiful stone house where they serve breakfasts and lunches and occasionally it hosts some beer fests.
It is also a hiking refuge and an environmental education laboratory. It is part of the quality welcome circuit for hikers who walk on the paths of the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri and Bormida Natura, a circuit of popular long-distance itineraries that cross the Reserve.
All hikes in the park start from the Cascina so it is a must to stop by and get a drink after hiking or get a coffee to boost your walk before venturing in the woods.
The Cascina has an amazing location in a clearing on top of a hill so it overlooks the entire valley and the panorama is just amazing!
The place offers a small wooden structure with tables and benches for its customers so they can enjoy their food or drinks outside while enjoying the view.
As you enter the path, there is a smaller building used for the observation of wildlife, one can stop here to do some bird-watching or continue the hike along the south-western slopes.
After walking for about two hours on the path and right after a steep descent you will then reach the clearing at the base of the rocky wall of the Rocca dell'Adelasia (Adelasia cliff). A short climb to its top allows you to have a gorgeous panoramic view of the valley from up above.
Today this so-called Casotti valley is almost entirely occupied by the regional Nature Reserve.
Rocca dell'Adelasia (Adelasia cliff)
There are many beech trees in the woods here and there is a beech tree called the Venerand which, not coincidentally, is a leading tree surrounded by its “Twelve Apostles.”
The reserve hosts some fauna too. Among the animals here we find the badger, the skunk, the fox, the wild boar, the deer and a large population of roe deer. The most significant bird species are the kingfisher (which we find near the canals), the hawk and the woodpecker. The aquatic environments preserve numerous species of amphibians and reptiles, in addition to the rare crayfish.
According to a popular legend, Princess Adelasia, daughter of Otto I of Saxony, found temporary shelter here when she fled with Aleramo, the squire she had married against her father's will.
Their getaway lasted until the day when Otto I, who had come to fight against the Saracens, found the couple by the sea and forgave them.
These places were also the battlegrounds of the battle of Montenotte, fought in April 1796 between the French and Piedmontese-Austrian troops. Of those days, the trenches of the Bric del Tesoro are still clearly visible in the woods and they are also part of the Napoleon itineraries found in our region.
The Napoleon itineraries are well-marked itineraries aimed at preserving the historical heritage of these places.
Hiking in the natural reserve
Cascina – a stone farmhouse turned into a café