If you don’t feel confident enough driving in Italy or on the panoramic winding roads of Alta Val Trebbia, don’t worry! You can still fulfil your dream of seeing Italy’s enchanted valley by using public transport from main gateway cities such as Milan, Piacenza, Pavia and Genoa.
Besides being the best way to travel with a low impact on the environment, public transport in the valley is reliable and cheap. However understanding timetables can prove quite difficult (most of the times they are incomprehensible even to locals).
Here you find a few suggestions to help you find your way.
Glossary: on timetables you will often see different schedules for weekdays and holidays. Remember that FERIALE means the service is active during weekdays, while FESTIVO is for service during the weekend and main bank holidays in Italy. ANNUALE means the service is active all year round but check for notes at the bottom of timetables, as most of the time they will give you more context. INVERNALE is the schedule for autumn/winter time, while ESTIVO the one for spring/summer (schedules normally specify exact dates the info applies to).
Travelling with SETA buses from Piacenza (Emilia Romagna)
On the side of the main railway station (with connections to Milan, Bologna and most cities in Italy), go to the bus station (autostazione, address: Piazzale Marconi) and look for the corriera bus (local long distance regional buses) by SETA (the name of the company operating the service). You might be able to purchase the ticket onboard (a small extra charge applies), or otherwise at all ticket shops selling SETA tickets (usually newsagents), online or at the machine at the bus station . Tickets are valid through the whole duration mentioned on them (so you can use them for multiple journeys across the valley within the specific timeline).
From Piacenza you can get a bus to Bobbio, Ottone, Cerignale, San Salvatore, Marsaglia, Rovaiola and many other villages of lower and upper Val Trebbia in the Emilia Romagna (and get a connecting bus to the Liguria side) region. Here you can find a handy map of the villages served by SETA.
Look for Linee Extraurbane for the Piacenza area on the SETA website, as these are the long distance corriere buses that will take you to the valley. Detailed routes and timetables can be looked up here.
Travelleing with ATP buses from Genova (Liguria)
From Piazza della Vittoria (a few steps away from Brignole Railway Station), you’ll find the corriere buses by ATP (the name of the company operating the service in Liguria) connecting the seaside city of Genoa (or Genova in Italian) to the lush and green mountains of the valley on the Liguria side. In the bigger town of Torriglia you will be able to change coach and venture deeper in the valley towards Montebruno, Loco, Rovegno, Ottone and other charmingly remote destinations. If you are planning a visit to the Antola Natural Park, you’ll be able to come in the area with the line to Rondanina.
Below is the scheme with main connections from Genoa to the villages of the valley.
At this link you find all lines servicing the valley and their timetables, while here you can see where you can buy tickets in Genoa and other locations in Liguria. You can also buy the ticket directly from the driver (with a small extra fee).
Travelling with ARFEA buses from Milan and Pavia (Lombardia)
To access Alta Val Trebbia without getting the train, an alternative is the bus to Varzi, which you can take from Milan (Famagosta station) or Pavia (bus station/autostazione). ARFEA is the name of the company providing this service, and Line 420 is the one that will take you to Varzi. Here you can get a further bus to Brallo every day and to Ottone on weekdays only. See the schedule here.
Note: most of the times bus stops in the valley are marked by a simple pole on the side of the road with a generic bus stop logo, or at times with the bus line logo and timetables. It is always a good idea to double check with the driver if the bus is going in the right direction and if it will stop where you are planning to get off. Most likely drivers and locals won’t speak English, but they will do their best to help you and make themselves understood. In any case, it might be good to note down these sentences:
- IT: La corriera va a [name of your destination]?
- EN: Does this coach go to [name of your destination]?
- IT: La corriera ferma a [name of your desired stop]?
- EN: Does this coach stop in [name of your desired stop]?
- IT: A che ora passa la corriera per [name of your destination]?
- EN: What time does the coach for [name of your destination] leave?
Good to know: remember that after Bobbio towards Genoa the road gets quite winding, so if you suffer from car sickness it is advisable to bring some pills with you. Roads are safe, drivers experienced and many people commute every day in all seasons from tiny villages to the main cities surrounding the valley.
Let us know in the comments if you found this information useful and what kind of extra details you’d like to have to make the most of your journey to the valley 🙂
Cover image by BusBusNet Forum
All other images in this post courtesy of SETA, ATP and ARFEA
Please double check info on the transport providers websites, as it might be subject to updates