• 2020.11.10
  • (Last) Fall outings in the Liguria region
It’s fall time here in Italy and that means time for mushrooms, chestnuts and Covid 19 restrictions.
They had announced it at the beginning of the Summer and unfortunately it is a reality: Covid is back here in Italy and the numbers are on the rise very rapidly so many new restrictions are implemented every day at the national and at the regional level.
Unfortunately, we are expecting more regulations for the upcoming weeks so we are taking advantage of the time we have left to enjoy the outdoors and being outside before another total lockdown.
I love the tranquility of the medieval villages so I visited the Nervia valley which boasts incredible foliage and fall colors during this time of the year.
Its name means sunny in the local dialect and it is located at the extreme edge of Liguria on the border with France.
This sunny valley enjoys a very pleasant temperature year round and the town's main square is the scene of events in every season of the year: the Oil Festival, the Spring Festival, the Valentine's Day fest and the Pansarola Festival (the local sweet fritters).

Pansarole fritters

Although this unlucky year all festivals were called off, the villages in this valley are very much loved by artists, especially painters, who have painted many murals on the facades of the houses here and who often hang out at the cafés in the local piazzas.
Like in all Italian towns, the church is at the center of the town and it represents its heart. All villages here are made of stone and they are famous for the production of hazelnuts and hazelnut cream.
Not far from Nervia valley one finds the Neva valley.
Here I visited the village of Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, located in the province of Savona and only 15 minutes from Albenga.
This is the first and most beautiful of the walled villages of the Neva valley, wrapped in a circle around the castle that dominates it. The castle is located in one of the main salt roads, which back in the days connected Piedmont with western Liguria to promote the exchange of oil, wine, wheat and timber. The village is characterized by ancient stone houses, huge portals, terrace roofs and arched attics. The church of the Assumption (partly in Baroque style) and the sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie (dated from the 17th century) cannot be missed during a visit.

Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena town

The Museum of Ancient Crafts is always open and inside there is a small collection of ancient tools, where you can also learn about the olive harvest and their transformation into oil. Olive oil is indeed the main product of the village and the extra virgin oil is the result of the cold pressing of the olives, often still carried out in the ancient way and therefore manually using very heavy stone millstones.
Albenga, the closest big town, is famous for its ancient history dating back to Roman times and for having the primacy over three of the best Ligurian products: the violet asparagus of Albenga, the artichoke of Albenga and a special kind of tomato called Ox heart tomato but I could
talk about that in another blog because they are considered Slow Food presidia.
Walking through the streets of the historic center you can catch a glimpse of the city walls. Arriving instead from the sea or from the Via Aurelia, the medieval towers can be recognized from afar. In one of these there is the Civic Museum of Albenga, where the testimonies of the ancient Roman and Byzantine town are exhibited: with epigraphs, cinerary urns and other stone fragments.
Albenga is also one of the capitals of doc wine: here the Pigato grape is born, the ideal accompaniment for a fish-based dish.
As I was saying at the beginning of the blog, Fall is time for chestnuts and it’s not uncommon to see chestnut roasters at the corner of the streets selling a cone of roasted chestnuts during this time of the year.

Albenga towers in the town center

Here in Liguria we also make loads of desserts with chestnuts and they are often glazed or pureed too.
During this time, we make a popular chestnut spread that is very sweet but delicious which can be used on rusks, toasted bread or as a cake filling.


  • Patrizia Margherita
  • Jobtranslator, interpreter, teacher

Although she was born in Italy, she is half Italian and half American and she has become a "multicultural person" who can speak five languages. She has lived and worked in the US, Brazil, Australia, France and the UK so she considers herself a citizen of the world. When she is not teaching or translating, she likes cooking Italian food, hiking and traveling around the world...She has traveled to 80 countries and counting!

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