Journalist Valentina Scaglia is the creator of the Trebbia Trail project, which will bring a first group of trekkers to Val Trebbia in 2012. The excursion will be organised through the organisation La via dei Canti and will develop along the route between Bobbio and Torriglia. We asked her about the idea behind the project and what it can offer to Val Trebbia.
1. Valentina, what is your relationship to Val Trebbia?
The first time I came to the valley was in 1985, to go down the river with my kajak: this is also a big passion of mine, beyond trekking. I traveled along river Trebbia, then the Aveto, Terenzone and Boreca. Those wonderful canyons, the famous meanders and the many wild and perfectly preserved spots particularly in the top part of the basin. “Secret” places not everyone can reach. I learnt to love those clear waters full of life and to appreciate something which might seem obvious but is not taken for granted: nowadays to find a clear and untouched river in Italy is something priceless.
2. When did you start trekking and what was your first itinerary?
I have been trekking for almost 20 years now, lately on a more serious level. My first trekking excursion was a crossing in Island, on the Hornstrandir peninsula. It was a taste of the great North, in full autonomy.
3. Let’s talk about Trebbia Trail: how was the idea born?
Together with the committees and organisations active in the preservation of the rivers of Val Trebbia, I asked myself how I could contribute to raise awareness about the issue of dams: how could I be useful? Could my experience in the environmental field and in the travel organisation sector be of service for the future of the valley?
4. What do you think are Val Trebbia’s best features from the point of view of the trekking experience and what are its difficulties?
The charme of the experience is to discover landscapes which are still very similar to how they looked in the past, dotted with small historical hamlets away from the main roads, where it is pleasant to walk. I think of places such as Pietranera, Brugnello, Confiente, Cerignale… It is a full immersion in the culture of the Apennines in a valley that preserved its unique rhythm and way of life. The river is the connection that leads visitors through the whole discovery, offering many surprises: a bridge, a green canyon, the rapids, the joining of tributaries. Another advantage of trekking in Valtrebbia is its geographical position: it’s an itinerary which can be walked through almost the whole year, also using the local bus lines to go back to the starting points. This is a strong point to attract visitors, foreigners too, outside of peak seasons. I don’t think there are big difficulties, the valley already offers good trekking paths that only need to be linked to one another.
5. Do you already have in mind a list of potential contacts to offer accommodation for the participants?
I already made a study of the different stops: in 2012 the first trekking group will come to Val Trebbia to “test the waters” and try the itinerary. We will walk between Bobbio and Torriglia and the excursion will be organised by Le Vie dei Canti. It would be ideal to have a sort of “trademark” to link the different accommodation possibilities in a sort of network.
6. How did Le Vie dei Canti become interested in Val Trebbia ?
I gave them the idea of an itinerary here: they asked me to organize a one-week itinerary. And this is also something new: it is strange but, from the point of view of the travel market, Valtrebbia represents a new offer.
7. Do you think this itinerary can attract many participants?
It is a very convenient itinerary, which allows for a discovery literally around the corner. It is easy enough and quite relaxing and also offers entertainment possibilities, such as swimming in the river or picking medicinal herbs: it is far from the buzz of the summer season and immersed in an emerald-green river and woods. The backpack equipment is light and there is always a fresh bed and a delicious meal waiting for you at each stop. It’s an anti-financial crisis holiday that does not require long journeys to reach the starting point. And all is fueled by the will to discover new places.
8. What is your favourite spot in the valley and why?
I love the canyons of San Salvatore very much: this place represents a symbolic and wonderful blend of rocks, woods and water which create an almost magical design. Almost a “trademark” of the valley I would say. A little bit further up, I also like the area of Mount Alfeo with its wild mountain tops and wide pastures where important archaeological remains were found. I like the tiny villages of the Ligurian area, the almost deserted villages of Fascia, Bertone, Pentema e Rondanina.
9. A piece of advice you would like to give us about the future of the valley?
If the valley does not want invasive structures, such as dams or highways, it needs to give proper value to what it already owns: a geography of still pure and intact landscapes. Focusing on a trekking network is a direct way to intervene in the local economy which does not require much investment, just planning and communication. Other valley, not very far from here (such as Lunigiana and Val di Taro) developed the stations of Via Francigena. which became very popular. There also are tracks such as Lunigiana Trekking, Via degli Abati Bobbio-Pontremoli and the newly born Pavia-Bobbio. I think it is absurd that a trekking option Piacenza-Genova is not included in such a network and offer of itineraries.
Valentina Scaglia interviewed by Surus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-mKI0dUnPA
Presentation of the Trebbia Trail project: http://www.altavaltrebbia.net/val-trebbia-di-oggi/1535-trebbia-trail.html
Le vie dei Canti: http://www.viedeicanti.it/home.html