Outdoor activities for active holidays in Alta Val Trebbia

Alta Val Trebbia is a great destination for all seasons. Italians tend to visit mostly during summer, with the central two weeks of August being the absolute peak season (15th of August is a popular bank holiday in Italy, with most businesses being closed and most Italians escaping from the cities to reach seaside or mountain destinations to cool off).

The beautiful and clean river Trebbia is a true gem in summer, with fresh turquoise waters attracting many swimmers from the main gateway cities. Swimming is mostly safe, but some spots might have cold currents that can prove dangerous: if you are in doubt, always ask advice to the locals before diving in.  The valley remains a very quiet escape also during the most visited weeks, but if you want to have it almost all for yourself you might prefer travelling there in September or in spring.

Autumn is a beautiful season too, with the woods changing colour, foliage at its best and a sense of peace surrounding the landscape, while winter is the season for you if you want to experience total stillness and silence. Outside of summer, temperatures are normally pleasant and cool during mid-seasons, but can drop a lot in winter, with ice covering the roads and snow capping the mountains.

To help you make the most of your travel, below you can find some ideas for tours and activities.

Water activities

Wildswimming is a must during summer and most of the time to understand where you can find a suitable spot you just need to see where most cars are parked along the road Statale 45. Paths to reach the river are mostly unmarked and very tiny (usually they look like the paths used by wild animals to reach the water, and many times that’s exactly what they are). Be careful where you put your feet and hands as the odd snake might be lazing around or under a rock: in the valley there are two main types of snakes, one being poisonous (viper) and the other not poisonous (biscia or orbetto). Many locals carry a stick with them while out walking in nature, in case it is needed as defense: however, most of the times snakes will sense you are approaching and leave (but caution is never too much). In many swimming spots you will see kids jumping into the water from rocks above the river: feel free to try it too, but just make sure the water is deep enough where you want to dive in.

Kayaking: in Marsaglia you will find a hostel by the river offering kayak equipment and courses. Kayaking is allowed on the river in general, so you can stop at any suitable location.

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Fishing: regulated fishing is allowed and in Gorreto you will find a fishing reserve for trout fishing. You can buy equipment and a licence at Hotel Miramonti, where you also find a restaurant and accommodation. Lago del Brugneto is an artificial lake in the Antola Natural Park are where carp fishing is allowed. Swimming is not allowed as the lake if formed by a dam, and navigation can only be allowed by Iren (the water company responsible for the lake), so you won’t be able to sail your own canoe or kayak outside of the approved days and areas. Check the FB page of Proloco Torriglia or contact the Antola Natural Park to know more about navigation options.

Horseback riding: in Torriglia you can arrange guided horseback trekking excursion through Rifugio e Centro Equestre Mulino del Lupo to explore the Antola Park from a different perspective.

Hiking and trekking: the whole valley is a trail through nature, but if you choose to hike along the main Statale 45, just stick to the side of the road and beware of cars and motorbikes (especially in spring and summer). You will see many secondary roads departing from SS 45 and reaching smaller villages. Signposts will tell you in which direction you are heading to and how many kilometers separate you from the closest village. If you venture out in the woods, you might find a few marked itineraries, although most will be unmarked so make sure you bring a phone with you to check your positions on GPS or to contact your host or local authorities in case of need (emergency number 112). Getting lost in the woods is not an unlikely occurrence, as the nature is very wild and it could be a bit disorienting for those not so familiar with it. If unsure, stick to the main paths or ask the locals for easy hikes. It might sound obvious but if you do get lost, walk downhill and you might eventually come across a village or a the main road. For some inspiration on easy hikes around the valley, visit the Parco Antola website: in the Italian outdoor section you can find some interesting itineraries and also purchase a map. Sentiero del Brugneto, Anello di Fontanarossa e Pian della Cavalla, Anello di Pentema, Anello del Rifugio, Monte Antola and Anello di Caprile are all hikes with great views that will take you through wonderful natural landscapes.

Mountain biking: Antola Bike Area is a new initiative offering MTB trails and pick up services in the area close to Torriglia. In Gorreto you can find mountain bikes at Hotel Miramonti.

Motorcycle trips: Alta Val Trebbia is a great destination for bikers thanks to the many curves and bends offered by the super panoramic route of Statale 45 connecting Genova to Piacenza. Besides breathtaking scenery and panoramic points, along the way you’ll find plenty of places to stop for a drink and a bite, a few petrol stations (Torriglia, Montebruno, Loco, Ottone, Marsaglia, Bobbio). Be careful when taking over cars or other bikers, as visibility is reduced in many spots and remember that roads can get very icy in winter or that stones might fall from the side of the mountains through the safety nets during heavy rain.

Mushroom harvesting: regulated mushroom harvesting is allowed during specific seasons (usually spring summer and autumn), but you will need a licence (licenza per la raccolta funghi). You can usually request it at local municipalities (“comune” or “municipio” in Italian). Many mushroom types are edible (“commestibili” in Italian) but beware of the poisonous ones (usually in brighter colours): sometimes even locals can’t tell the difference, so be extra careful. You can ask for advise at local chemists/doctors or to the most experienced mushroom harvester in the local population. Among edible variates, the most sought for are Porcini, Galletti, Prataioli and Colombine. To respect nature, please make sure not to be too greedy and only pick those mushrooms you actually intend on consuming.

Other: in the lower valley you also find a lovely adventure park in the woods close to Bobbio (location name Coli), a water park with slides in Rivergaro, an interesting neolithic ettlement and museum in Travo. In Fontanigorda you can also play tennis and minigolf (mostly in summer) at the lovely Bosco delle Fate. All of these tips make for nice family day activities.

 

Featured image www.sagep.it

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How to Find Accommodation with English Speaking Hosts

One of the things that makes Alta Val Trebbia truly unique is its being unspoilt, remote and authentic.

While these might be the main reason for choosing it as your destination, it can also result in some problems finding accommodation, as the area does not really offer many options for traditional properties such as hotels or big resorts. You will encounter tiny villages, often with a permanent local population of only a dozen people, so big hotels would be completely out of place in this sort of context.

Grab this chance to stay with a local host, in a mountain top cabin in the Antola Natural Park or in a traditional bed & breakfast. Camp under the stars or try an agriturismo (Italian for farmstay, offering local cuisine with locally sourced organic products).

Here are some websites to book your stay and find English speaking guests:

Booking.com: the biggest travel accommodation site supports more than 41 languages and offers a great customer service 24/7 to help you before, during and after your stay. All bookings are immediately confirmed and many also offer free cancellation. On the home page you can enter in the search box “Torriglia”, “Fontanarossa”, “Montebruno”, “Bobbio” and then use the map view function to find available accommodation close to where you intend to stay. The site offers hotels, campings, bed and breakfasts, private homes and many other accommodation types. At the bottom of each property page you can see which languages are spoken at the property (see picture below).

languages booking

In this section on Booking.com you can see the languages spoken at the property 

 

Airbnb: the most popular sharing economy website is a great idea if you want to stay with a local. Hosts might also offer local experiences and activities on the ground and will be happy to support you with all your questions before and throughout your stay. Read the reviews to know more about languages spoken and what previous travelers thought about their stay. Besides private homes, you will also find camping sites and other more traditional types of stays. Some bookings have instant confirmation, while in other cases you might have to interact with the host and provide some more information about yourself and your trip before receiving the confirmation of your booking. In the search box type “Torriglia”, “Rovegno”, “Valsigiara”, “Ottone” or other specific location names in the valley and use the map view function to see available accommodation in the area.

airbnb languages

On Airbnb, click on the host picture to  find languages spoken

Val Trebbia Experience: this interesting portal in Italian provides a lot of information on the lower part of Val Trebbia roughly included within the area from Piacenza to Bobbio. In the section called “Dove dormire” you will find a list of recommended places to stay (divided by location and accommodation type), which you can book directly. Note: English might not always be spoken by the owners or staff, but you can give it a try.

Other: most properties in the valley are small family run businesses, which are likely not to have a website or be listed online. Keep your eyes wide open as you drive along Statale 45 for “agriturismi”, “bed and breakfast” or “apartments” signs, and follow your instinct!

Especially if you are travelling by public transport it is a good idea to book some nights in the valley to be able to enjoy the beautiful nature and landscape at your own pace, without stressing too much about catching your next coach ride in time.

Wherever you choose to stay, you will find plenty of great forests and places to spend some time immersed in the nature.

Happy travels!

Featured image by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

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