Let’s visit a beautiful town that has been included among the most beautiful villages in Italy and that can also boast the title of Orange Flag: we are talking about Varese Ligure.
Varese Ligure is about 33 kilometers from Levanto and is located 53 kilometers from La Spezia and 74 from Genoa, in the upper Val di Vara. Its strategic position that favored trade between Liguria and Emilia Romagna gave rise to the village, which still today has a typically medieval atmosphere, especially in the Borgo Rotondo. This is where our tour to discover Varese Ligure starts.
You should also know that Varese Ligure is also called the whole organic village because it boasts an organic production of meat and cheese covering 95% of the agricultural activity, making it a destination perfect for eco-tourists. Varese Ligure was the first Italian municipality to obtain environmental certifications (ISO 14001 and EMAS) and in 2004 it was awarded by the European Union as the best rural community.
From Levanto to Varese Ligure: how to get there
Levanto and Varese Ligure are not well connected by public transport, so this is one of the few cases in which we recommend an autonomous solution to travel between the two locations.
By car, in fact, it takes just under half an hour, while the solutions with public transport, although economic, are very time-consuming. Consider a journey of 2.25 hours by bus.
The same goes for the train, which can take you as far as Sestri Levante from Levanto, but you will have to continue with a bus. Also in this case it is two and a half hours of travel.
From Levanto to Varese Ligure: what to see
Our visit of Varese Ligure starts from Borgo Rotondo, an iconic place often immortalized in the postcards of the city and considered as a historical center where visitors’ attention is concentrated. Borgo Rotondo was built for the control and defense of the territory and is formed by stone houses arranged in an elliptical shape and without external openings.
The village contains the two main squares, Piazza Fieschi (from the name of the ancient feudal lords who wanted the construction of village) and Piazza Castello, where the commercial activities, warehouses and laboratories were located in the underlying arcades.
Even today there are side alleys that allow you to look out into the only middle street once closed by two doors. The Borgo Rotondo is right next to the Fieschi castle, an ancient defensive fortress in the center of a large square overlooking shops and bars. Next to the castle there’s also Palazzo Ferrari.
Leaving the Borgo Rotondo just follow the hill leading to the Crovana torrent to find the Grecino quarter of Byzantine origin and its charming pedestrian bridge dating back to 1515.
Another point of interest is the church of San Filippo Neri and Santa Teresa D’Avila consecrated in 1676 and cloistered monastery since 1652. Here in the garden the nuns cultivated aromatic herbs, made dried mushrooms and prepared almond paste desserts like sciuette, from the secret recipe. Also the Church of San Giovanni Battista of 1648 contains precious artistic treasures, the same is true for the seventeenth-century oratory of the Saints Antonio and Rocco.
Once in Varese Ligure do not miss the typical dishes of the area, such as ravioli with fresh pasta stuffed with vegetables and meat to accompany with meat or mushroom ragù; the croxetti, discs of pasta decorated with floral designs to be seasoned with walnut or walnut sauce; chestnut flour tagliatelle served with pesto or fresh ricotta. And more: lamb and rabbit, cooked on slate plates, vegetable pies and castagnaccio prepared with chestnut flour, pine nuts and raisins.
[Cover photo: Photography by @vittorio_puggioni_fotografo]