English Version, Le interviste della valle/ Interviews from the valley

Photographing the Colonia di Rovegno: tips from Tim Brown

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of getting to know British photographer Tim Brown through our @visitaltavaltrebbia Instagram account and asked him if I could repost a picture he took in Rovegno a few years ago.

Here is the image that started our conversation:

The long and winding road from Rovegno #rovegno #woodland #woods #italy #italia

A post shared by Tim Brown (@fotografo.uk) on

On Tim’s website, I came across his great project called Totally Lost, which also features La Colonia di Rovegno, a place I know well from the many stories told by my grandfather.

Besides its controversial past, La Colonia is undoubtedly a historical landmark sadly rotting away in silence in the woods around Pietranera and Foppiano. Over the years, it has been heavily vandalised and left to its fate, its story being forgotten or ignored by the new generations.

With his work, Tim has been leading a “photographic and video research throughout Europe to discover, survey and map the abandoned architectural heritage of the Totalitarian Regimes of the 20th century in Europe”, which also brought him to several regions in Italy and specifically to Alta Val Trebbia.

I am always very happy and a bit surprised to hear about foreign visitors coming to the valley, as I think it’s a very hidden secret for tourists to discover, especially when coming from abroad and having to deal with transportation and language barriers.

To encourage more photography lovers to come and discover La Colonia, I asked Tim to share his experience and give a couple of tips to anyone interested in discovering this very special site.

My hope is that the echo of the centuries and peace inspired by this place will help make its story better known and spark a constructive discussion (in Italy but also abroad) about its historical value and what can be done to preserve it and restore it for future generations beyond all ideologies or political beliefs.

First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I have had various careers over the years, including geophysicist, computer programmer, and acupuncturist. However photography has always been an interest, along with a love of Italy and all things Italian. I decided to study for a Bachelors degree in photography in 2013, graduated with first class honours and went on to study for a Masters qualification. Both my final projects were based in Italy, one exploring the old colonie and the other in Rome. I am currently training to teach photography. When not in Italy, I live in Leeds in the UK.

Tim Brown, photographer and lover of all things Italian

When and how did you first get to know about La Colonia di Rovegno and what in particular made you want to visit it?

I first discovered some of the seaside Colonie along the Adriatic coast by accident and after having done some research I decided they would be the ideal subject for my photography degree project. I wanted to explore both coastal and mountain settings and spent a week based in Genova with the aim of exploring the coast and venturing inland to Rovegno and also Montemaggio.

What route did you take to arrive in Rovegno and what memories do you have of the journey itself?

I took the bus from Genova and can’t remember how close it got me but I spent a long time checking timetables there, and to ensure I could get back again at the end of the day. I particularly remember the clean, clear air, the views as I started to climb and the deep green of the forest.

Getting to Rovegno and the Colonia (courtesy of Tim Brown)

What are your main memories of Alta Val Trebbia and did you visit other villages besides Rovegno? 

My main memory is of the quiet and peacefulness of the area. Of my many visits and much walking during the course of the project, the trip to Rovegno stands out. I visited the lovely town of Bobbio on a separate occasion, that time travelling with a friend by car from near Milan.

What were your impressions of La Colonia during your visit?

I found it hard to imagine how it must have been when occupied, and the scale of the building felt  large and intimidating in relation to its purpose of accommodating children. However, the building is stunning, particularly in the way it rises out from amid the forest and in its use of elevations, angles and curves. Its use as a wartime prison adds another, sobering dimension to its history and feel.

An interior image of the Colonia di Rovegno photographed by Tim Brown

What tips would you give to other photography lovers who want to take a photo tour of La Colonia?

Take a tripod, I didn’t and wish that I had. Be prepared to spend time in and around the building, to get past the initial feeling of awe and in order to get to know and feel it.

“The building is stunning, particularly in the way it rises out from amid the forest”, says Tim.

Are there other places in Alta Val Trebbia you would like to photograph in the future?

I would like to spend more time exploring and walking in the area. I would have liked to visit Colonia Devoto too, though I think this is in a neighbouring valley, but I couldn’t find a feasible way of getting there and back.

Below  you can see more pictures taken by Tim on his visit:

For anyone wanting to know more about La Colonia, Tim shared the following links to current crowdfunding projects to preserve abandoned heritage sites in Italy.

Spazi Indecisi: http://www.spaziindecisi.it/space/colonia-rovegno/ 

Museo Diffuso dell’Abbandono: https://www.ideaginger.it/progetti/in-loco-il-museo-diffuso-dell-abbandono.html/

Note: the Colonia di Rovegno is an abandoned and decaying site, so if you do enter it will be at your own risk.


See you on Instagram!

Dear friends of altavaltrebbiablog, after a few years of silence, we are back!

Now more than ever we want to encourage travellers around the world to come discover our little corner of paradise.

That’s why you now find us on Instagram, where you will be able to see lots of lovely pictures and learn some useful facts to plan your next Alta Val Trebbia trip.

We look forward to seeing you in the valley soon and we hope you will experience it, love it and respect its pristine beauty.

Thanks for following the blog, and you can still reach us at altavaltrebbia@gmail.com.






Un’immagine navigabile per sentirsi già al Trebbia

Non vedete l’ora di scappare dalla canicola urbana e tuffarvi nelle verdi acque del fiume più bello del mondo? Con questa foto interattiva creata da Michele Merlini, potrete godervi una preview che vi farà sentire subito meglio. 

Continue reading “Un’immagine navigabile per sentirsi già al Trebbia”

English Version, Immagini/Gallery

Meet the Trebbia River – navigate a specific spot with the interactive Map

If you can’t escape the heat but your mind is dreaming of cool green waters, navigate this cool map created by Alta Val Trebbia’s firiend Michele Merlini. Continue reading “Meet the Trebbia River – navigate a specific spot with the interactive Map”

Ispirazioni dal mondo/ Sources of inspiration from all around the world

Un’estate di eventi in Val Trebbia? Ora tocca a te!

L’estate è senza dubbio una delle stagioni migliori per scoprire al meglio la Val Trebbia, e certamente la stagione che porta il maggiore afflusso di visitatori nei paesi della valle. Tuttavia, capita spesso di notare come il programma di eventi estivi sia spesso ripetitivo e inadeguato, soprattutto nelle località minori e più remote. Grazie a internet, oggi è possibile organizzare eventi a costo zero usando piattaforme come Meetup. Pronti a organizzare il vostro primo evento estivo in Val Trebbia? Continue reading “Un’estate di eventi in Val Trebbia? Ora tocca a te!”

English Version, Ispirazioni dal mondo/ Sources of inspiration from all around the world

A summer of events in Val Trebbia? Start your own now!

Summer is surely one of the best seasons to discover Val Trebbia at its best. Although visitors come to the valley attracted by its unspoilt nature and relaxing surroundings, the local entertainment program organised by smaller villages is not as varied as it could be. If you care for Val Trebbia and want to help others discover its beauty and stories, here is an idea of how to do it. Continue reading “A summer of events in Val Trebbia? Start your own now!”


New Old Pic of Beautiful River Trebbia

Dear friends of Altavaltrebbia,

a very long time has passed since the last post on altavaltrebbiablog. For many reasons I was not able to take care of the blog, and lots has changed since the last time I wrote.

The “most beautiful valley in the world” is always on my mind, and more than ever I would love as many new visitors to come and share its stories.

I am publishing a few new old pictures of the Trebbia, which in my mind is THE iconic river, hoping they will inspire you to come and swim in its turquoise waters next summer.

These pictures were taken in summer 2012, along the Statale 45 between the villages of Ottone and Rovegno (location Rocca dei Corvi and bridge to Fontanarossa).

Knowing the unspoilt nature of Val Trebbia, I trust everything has stayed very much the same.

Come and explore one of the Italy’s last pieces of paradise next summer!


P ictures: copyright of Claudia Costa


Altavaltrebbiablog: 2013 in review

Read the 2013 annual report for this blog and find out where Val Trebbia lovers come from, what they liked most about the blog and what they said.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

English Version

The best places to swim in the Trebbia

While driving along statale 45 from Genoa to Piacenza last weekend, I was very surprised to notice the high number of visitors having a swim or sunbathing on the banks of river Trebbia. It’s not August yet, the month that normally welcomes the most visitors, but the river has already become a favourite weekend destination!

Although river Trebbia is well known, perhaps not everybody is aware that its wildest part is the section of the river running after Bobbio towards Genoa. Amazing hidden corners and little lakes are a proper feature of the river in Alta Val Trebbia and offer views that rival the beaches of Croatia, Cote d’Azur and other “exotic” holiday resorts.

This post offers an overview of the best spots to swim and relax on the river. Geographical coordinates are also included and all pictures are taken from Panoramio and Google Earth.

Have a nice time on river Trebbia!

Coordinates: 44°44’44.59″ N   9°23’14.91″ E

Coordinates: 44°44’39.07″ N   9°23’15.29″ E

Coordinates: 44°44’39.07″ N   9°23’15.29″ E

Coordinates: 44°44’14.52″ N   9°22’48.34″ E

Coordinates: 44°43’24.18″ N   9°23’01.27″ E

Coordinates: 44°42’08.46″ N   9°22’41.59″ E

Coordinates: 44°41’16.31″ N   9°18’25.74″ E

I could not find many pictures of the river between  Marsaglia and Rovegno and I would be very thankful if you could share some with me and the Alta Val Trebbia blog’s followers.

Shall you have some, don’t hesitate to contact altavaltrebbia@gmail.com!

Featured image courtesy of Foter


I migliori angoli del Trebbia

Percorrendo la statale 45 da Genova a Piacenza questo fine settimana sono stata piacevolmente sorpresa dal numero di visitatori presenti lungo il fiume Trebbia. Siamo appena a Luglio e già il fiume attrae visitatori come nel pieno di Agosto!

Forse non tutti sanno però che ben dopo Bobbio, e quindi più all’interno dell’Alta Valle, il fiume offre paesaggi e meandri spettacolari da fare invidia alle spiagge della Croazia, Costa Azzurra e altre mete “esotiche”.

Questo post offre una panoramica corredata da fotografie (caricate da vari utenti su Panoramio) e coordinate tratte da Google Earth dei migliori punti in cui tuffarsi nelle acque turchesi del fiume più pulito d’Italia.

Buone vacanze!

Coordinate: 44°44’44.59″ N   9°23’14.91″ E

Coordinate: 44°44’39.07″ N   9°23’15.29″ E

Coordinate: 44°44’39.07″ N   9°23’15.29″ E

Coordinate: 44°44’14.52″ N   9°22’48.34″ E

Coordinate: 44°43’24.18″ N   9°23’01.27″ E

Coordinate: 44°42’08.46″ N   9°22’41.59″ E

Coordinate: 44°41’16.31″ N   9°18’25.74″ E

Sfortunatamente non sono riuscita a trovare foto del tratto del fiume tra Marsaglia e Rovegno, che nasconde angoli davvero interessanti.

Se qualcuno di voi passa per la valle e vuole condividere qualche scatto non esitate a contattare altavaltrebbia@gmail.com!