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Castelvecchio di rocca barbena
"… Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena has grown around the castle, the most ancient and imposing of the valley, built by Clavesana family in the XI century...” "... Imposing, almost quadrangular, it appears today in its structure dating back to the XIV century, it still has most of the surrounding walls and watch towers, from where they used to communicate via mirrors with the underlying villages..."
"... The medieval village, clinging to the castle walls, comes up from beneath with ascending layers, almost circular, with its typical houses with terrace roofs..."
"... the inner streets, narrow and still paved with stone slabs, weave between the stone houses, linked with arches and buttresses..."
"... Toward October, along the narrow streets you can smell the perfume of the must coming from the ground-floor of our homes..."


"... In winter time, if you can reach when the snow outline even more the village contour, and the thin and black trees are carved on the bulk of the castle, you can enjoy a very unique landscape..."
"... Noteworthy is also the baroque church of Nostra Signora dell'Assunta, and the little square of the oratory with the castle on the background"
We at Antico Melo will be glad to show you the beauty of the nature and history of this cozy and nice environment (see here the village plan with the detail of the noteworthy places to visit).
A Celtic legend dating back to XV century narrates that a wonderful island appeared to some castaways, with a marvelous forest of perfumed apple trees. When the wind shook the treetops, a wonderful music could be heard.
The men ate some apples and drank at a river of wine. In no time they were sated and relieved from every pain...


Historical accounts
The village was anciently an important domain of the Clavesana Marquis who found it between XII and XIII centuries.
As from XIII century it lost much of its importance owing to the founding of the near Zuccarello domain, that was elevated to marquisate incorporating Castelvecchio. In 1623 it was bought by the Savoia family , that later on was obliged to hand it over to the Republic of Genova, following the siege of the castle by the genoese soldiers in 1672, that obliged the pidemontese family to surrender those lands.
In 1746 during the Spanish secession war, the pidemontese army tried in vain to siege the village and the castle.
In 1815 Castelvecchio returned within the Reign of Sardinia territory, and in 1861 in the reign of Italy.

Continue reading here
Or study in depth on wikipedia
The village is inserted in the list of the most beautiful Italian villages, here
Furthermore Castelvecchio has also been appointed the orange flag by the Touring Club


Scandinavians in Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, along the high trail of the ligurian mountains, by Enrico Peloso
original page

Rocca Barbena is the name of a peculiar mountain along the high trail of the ligurian mountains.
The mountain is not that high but with its dolomite's steep rocky slopes looks impressive and important. The trail is at times demanding but very interesting and panoramic with the north face oriented towards Bardineto woods. The south face offers a panoramic view of most of the Neva valley, where the village of Castelvecchio lies, bearing the name of this mountain.
Castelvecchio is few kilometer away from the sea of Albenga, towards Garessio, and lies at an height of about 400 meters above sea level.
This village has maintained most of the original feudal center aspect, preserving the environmental values that find in the Clavesana's family castle their symbol.
The village is built around the castle erected in the XI century, passing on under Zuccarello, the Del Caretto the family of the beautiful Ilaria, the Savoia and the Genoese Republic. It preserves most of the original structure, thanks also to the current owners restoration works, among whose ancestors there was the painter Pelizza da Volpedo, author of the famous painting "il quarto stato" (the fourth state).
The main church is the Assunta whilst in the "piazza della Torre" (Tower square), once notorious for its gallows, there's the entrance of the "Disciplinanti" oratory.
Some of them moved definitively, opening business in Liguria, charmed by the Ligurian mountain landscapes. There are also Italians that moved to Sweden, but they come back whenever they can to live inside these walls filled of mountain and sea.
The village is nowadays inserted in the prestigious list of the most beautiful Italian villages.
The valley, today immersed in the green, will be crossed by the highway Albenga-Garessio which is now a subject of a controversy between locals and tourists. The Association of the Castelvecchio Scandinavians have been created to awaken medias' and environmentalists' attention.
The association sent an open letter to the press pointing out: "have everything been taken into consideration? The woods and the rich wildlife that are of inestimable value that run the risk to be lost for good? Our sons that are getting more stress and overbuilding... is this the price we want the new generations to pay ? Is the devastation of a valley worth the building of a new highway?" One of the worried Scandinavians writes: "As far as we know the Neva valley was threatened the first time already 2200 years ago. It was the younger Hannibal brother, Magone, that after having transported on vessels 12000 soldiers, 2000 knights and the elephants, marched along the Neva valley through the San Bernardino pass".
For many that today live or visit the places along the river, the building of an highway must represent a worst threat than a whole army with elephants in the lead was for the ancient inhabitants of the valley.
It seems that the name comes from the ancient terms Vallis Cohedani, toponym of the “via del sale” (trail of the salt), a commercial trail for oil and wine between Piedmont and west Liguria. From the street that leads to the graveyard you can reach the "poggio" (hillock) with a nice view on the village and on the cultivated narrow fields near the houses. The houses have been nowadays restored, ancient houses of yore, made of stone with terrace roofs, the attics, the ovens protruding from the walls where once the bread was cooked and that seemed to be destined to decay and oblivion.
In the last years instead the village have been “discovered” by tourists, and together with the last residents a slow but effective restoration have begun.
Windows have been painted bringing back the typical white frames echoing alpine-Provençal tradition.
Mediterranean looking houses, probably built by the first inhabitants coming from the coast up here fleeing Saracen raids.
Many of the internal fixtures have been completely re-built, the roof tops have been restored and today the village offers a beautiful sight.
Many of these houses live again also thanks to the many foreign tourists coming also from North European countries. The first ones arrived here in 1976. the beauty of the place soon influenced other "northerners" that decided to buy the first houses in Castelvecchio, under the castle, turning them from ruins into nice homes.
Swedish came first followed by the Danes.
Castelvecchio possesses an irreplaceable resource, which became a unique rarity almost all over the world: "its nearly total silence". And the concern grows as days pass by. Nevertheless Mayor Balbo has pointed out in a television interview that the construction will be realized but in a "correct way".
The acoustic and environmental pollution should be avoided in this way. Hopefully that wont be one of the many declarations that will be denied by facts, as it often happens in our country. In one of these houses, among the first buyers, Bjorn Afzelius, defined "the northern De Andrè" (but the definition of "Scandinavian Bob Dylan" should be more appropriate) used to write his beautiful songs. He was a Scandinavian singer-songwriter, very famous in his country, who died few years ago.
He wrote many beautiful songs, also against wars and discord. In one of these he recalls his childhood memories, when he used to read about faraway places evoking images of beauty, perfumes, flavors, names and people so nice. May be he was thinking of a place like Castelvecchio. It's also thanks to him that Scandinavian televisions talked about Castelvecchio when recalling his life and songs after his death, giving fame to this ligurian village. And so, mentioning the song he dedicated to Castelvecchio: "look at the so bright stars! Feel the so caressing winds! It's night in Liguria... the old castle on Barbena Mountain has seen more than we can imagine". Let's hope that the old castle will not have to see the valley irreparably spoiled.

Other noteworthy places are located in Albenga e Alassio, Le grotte di Toirano,and Borgio Verezzi's Caverns, Zuccarello
agriturismo alassio castelvecchio savona albenga bed and breakfast
ANTICO MELO Agritouris of Gherardi Maria Teresa - Bed and breakfast - tel. +39.329.3143795
Via Campo 12 - 17034 Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena,Italy Savona
Mako Di Massimo Malco