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

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Across Alta Val Trebbia with public transport (yes, you can!)

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.

seta linee extra

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.

ATP lines

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.

Arfea scheudle

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

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

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!

L’importante e’ partecipare: Assottonese XXV Aprile

Nei paesi dell’Alta Val Trebbia i servizi offerti alla popolazione spesso scarseggiano per offerta e qualità. In contesti simili l’importanza di una società civile associativa e rappresentativa appare essenziale per migliorare la qualità della vita delle popolazioni locali. Roberto Lucà, portavoce dell’Assottonese XXV Aprile spiega cosa significhi la partecipazione sociale per i paesi dell’Alta Val Trebbia.  Continue reading

The importance of parcipatory life: Assottonese XXV Aprile

The offer of services to the citizens of Alta Val Trebbia is often scarce in quality and quantity. Yet, it is exactly in realities like these that the importance of participatory life is a key factor to improve the quality of life of the local population. Roberto Lucà, spokesman of the association Assottonese XXV Aprile explains what social participation means for the villages of Alta Valtrebbia. Continue reading