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"When time stops, it becomes a place."
- Chawki Abdelamir
Oltrepò Pavese is a lived-in area that exudes history: walking through its villages and hills, there are many details and characteristic elements that take us back in time. In particular, the traces left by the medieval historical period should not be overlooked, very suggestive in contrast with modernity and today's life and symbol of a time that seems to have stopped. Living a bit of the Middle Ages becomes possible by visiting the small villages of the Oltrepò nestled between the provinces of Piacenza and Tortona. Among these are worthy of mention, for example, Varzi, Fortunago, Zavattarello, Golferenzo and San Ponzo.
Specifically, however, there are two small villages in the Oltrepò that have obtained recognition in the restricted elite of the "most beautiful villages in Italy": Fortunago and Zavattarello.
Fortunago is located a few kilometers from Borgoratto Mormorolo (PV). To underline is the fact that the village was owned by numerous feudal lords, one after the other (for example the Marquises Malaspina and the Dal Verme counts) in relation to the fate of the Pavese territory, in the period following the so-called battle of Pavia of the year 1525. In the case of Fortunago, the entry into the ranking of the most beautiful villages in Italy is not only due to its landscape-architectural culture but also to the ability to enhance and recover the atmosphere of the past. The village has in fact preserved typical medieval components such as the stone facades, the wooden windows, the wooden benches and the paving of the streets, made with stones and porphyry tiles. Furthermore, particular attention has been given to the care of greenery, in a combination of elements that make Fortunago a rare symbol of a rich and lively tradition.
Among the small villages, Zavattarello must also be mentioned, in relation to what was written by D. Bertacchi: "(...) is perhaps the most historic country in the province for ancient acts of arms, therefore it has to be mentioned". Zavattarello is located in the Upper Val Tidone and boasts the peculiarity of being a 13th century village with its churches and castle. The Dal Verme castle dominates unspoiled nature, and is undoubtedly a distinctive sign of the village worthy of a visit. It is a castle built in stone, with a wall thickness of almost four meters. Today it is entirely restored and can be visited, it also hosts numerous events inside. It should be underlined how the village is made particularly suggestive by the combination of the millenary stones and the colors of the Oltrepò Pavese countryside, which seem to be worth as a symbol of the parallel coexistence between a permanent past and a constantly evolving present. As for the religious tradition, the patronal church of San Paolo, the construction of the octagonal cemetery and the oratory of San Rocco are worth a visit.
Another place that deserves to be seen is Varzi. It is a town located in the center of the Staffora Valley where you can stop to visit the Malaspina Castle, the Parish of San Germano, the towers and the Romanesque Capuchin church. It should be noted that Varzi boasts the characteristic of producing one of the Pavia's excellences: the Salame of Varzi DOP. For gourmets it is also possible to visit one of the different aging cellars, however not always open.
Golferenzo is a small village of Oltrepò located at 500 m above sea level, bordering the municipalities of Santa Maria Della Versa, Nibbiano, Montecalvo Versiggia and Volpara . Most of the territory is occupied by vineyards that produce D.O.C. such as Pinot, Moscato and Riesling; the remaining part is instead lawn and wood. For interested visitors, the Parish Church dedicated to San Nicolò and the remains of the castle can be mentioned. Next to the Parish Church you can visit a particular museum: the Corkscrew museum, which houses a vast collection of corkscrews for a period of time about 300 years long.
San Ponzo is instead a small fraction of Ponte Nizza (PV) of medieval origin . The landscaping is characterized by narrow streets and close houses, characterized by typically stone facades. From the village it is then possible to walk, through the centuries-old woods, to an area of sandstone rock shaped by atmospheric agents: the Caves of San Ponzo, where the body of the hermit Ponzo was found.
Visit the small villages of the Oltrepò pavese can be an excellent idea to bring everyone together: from art and history, to nature to good forks lovers. If you are organizing your weekend, oltrepoAdvisor will allow you to know about all the events in Oltrepò pavese!