Follow your heart…to Ottone!

Manuela is the curator of the website. In this post she explains why she chose a life in Val Trebbia. She left city-life for good in 2007 to move to Ottone where, together with her partner, she bought a house full of history and memories, which she is planning to turn into a Bed and Breakfast.

We got to know Val Trebbia by chance, through a friend that always spends her holidays here: we went camping in Rovegno for five years and in the end we started looking for a house to buy in the area, as we had been thinking of moving to the countryside for a while.

Fontanelle Camping in Rovegno

I am 34, I was born in Genoa and lived some years in Dublin, while my partner, Roberto is from Turin but lived for about ten years i Genoa too.  We bought a house in Ottone in November 2006 and moved in for good in April 2007. We chose Ottone because we literally fell in love with the house we found there: although it needs to be fully renovated, it is big enough to allow us to turn it into a B&B in the future.  It is a stone building with a huge garden, which we use as an allotment, where we keep some chickens and plants and gives us a lot of room for our children and our dog. The house also has a peculiar story, set in the period after World War II, linked to the Isola family who lived here before we moved in.

An old picture of Ottone (from the archives of

Giulietta, the mother, opened a smallwares-shop, after her husband died, at the ground floor of hour (theirs then) house. She had three children: Serafino, Maurisita and Irma who is the only one still alive nowadays. I heard many stories about the war, such as the one that sees Giulietta and Serafino being arrested and taken to the checkpoint in  Gorreto where they spent three days and finally were released, or when Irma and Maurisita, who were still young girls then, were used as human shields by the Germans together with other local inhabitants.  I know for sure that the house still treasured many personal letters, documents, family pictures and all sorts of personal objects. We kept many of them , waiting to decide what to do. Some of the pictures can be found on the valtrebbiaforum website, under the category Val Trebbia ieri.

Ottone 1927 (from the archives of

About living and working in Val Trebbia we are self-employed so the job followed us and moved to Ottone. It may sound easy but in the beginning it was not all that simple, but we were lucky, although when we moved here we had no friends or relatives living in the area. We are convinced that life in a city is not tailored for us; it is very alienating and limits individual freedom. This is why we decided to move and raise our children, two twins born in 2008, here where they will be able to play outdoor, be immersed in nature, know the people around them and live in a healthy environment from many perspectives.  This doesn’t mean ignoring the objective problems that life in a small village presents, such as the lack of many basic services like schools, nurseries and colleges.  

The installation businesses of Manuela and Roberto in action

Logo of assottonese XXV Aprile

However now, after some years and a couple of children, we are still very enthusiastic about our choice and we are trying to work with other people to make life better, for example through assottonese xxv aprile . The aim of this organization if to bring the locals closer together because we believe that social participation is a key element to live in a civilized, fair and egalitarian country. Participation is the only way to be represented and cared for in villages like this. The main aim of the organization is to promote the sustainable economic development of the valley through sustainable tourism, safe roads and basic services, hospitals and schools that can meet the requirements of the population.  


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