Varese Ligure medieval village (La Spezia - Italy)

Immersed in the greenery of valleys and woods in the La Spezia Apennines, this ancient village is strategically located at the crossroads of some trans-Apennine roads in the upper Val di Vara. Here time passes slowly and you can breathe an air of tranquility and peace. There are few people who meet along the arcades present throughout the round village which the signs of the local proloco define as "Round village".

Historical signs

This "round" village was born in the thirteenth century thanks to the Fieschi counts who were invested with the title of feudal lords by the emperor Frederick I. The idea of the Fieschis was that the village also served as a fortification for which the project led to the creation of a series of masonry buildings, without external openings, according to an elliptical design. Shortly afterwards there was also the castle with its high tower and the cylindrical tower still visible today. Over time things changed and the castle lost its military function and was used as a prison.

Visita al borgo di Varese Ligure

The visit starts from the main square of the town outside the ancient village, here it stands out as the remains of the Fieschi castle, a military building of which today we can admire the mighty offensive tower and the smaller cylindrical tower. Both buildings have been well restored and maintained and are currently privately owned but are given to host events, exhibitions and events. 

Going behind these two fortifications you can take the median alley of the ancient round village, an alley that originally did not exist and was subsequently created. The initial glimpse with the stairs leading to the upper floors is very characteristic, the narrow alleyway surmounted by several reinforced architraves with the two side porticoes, low to wide vaults. At the end of the alley there is a small square from which the elliptical structure of the village begins to be laid out from below. On the left side there is a stretch that better reflects the original version, a narrow alley flanked by a large internal porch overlooked by cellars and warehouses while the houses are located on the upper floors. A sign recalls the point where the Captain's building stood, today a scruffy courtyard that hardly remembers the presence of a dwelling of rank.

The other part of the village is the one that has undergone the most transformations, the buildings overlook an internal square where the market took place. The architecture is always the same, large porticoes with warehouses while the houses develop on the upper floors. Here the most recent intervention is noted, the facades are colored with pleasant alternating warm colors, creating an effect similar to that of many well-known marine villages in this area (five lands). The round village is very characteristic and small enough that it soon returns to the main square where the castle is located. On the same square is the church dedicated to San Filippo Neri and Santa Teresa d'Avila, a church that is part of the Convent of the Augustinian Nuns which is currently closed due to a lack of nuns and vocations. The church does not offer ideas of particular interest, it is presented in Baroque style with a high altar enriched by green marble columns with a wooden group of the Caravaggio's Madonna in the center.

A short walk from the town center runs the small Crovana river which then flows into the Vara river. On this stream is still present the sixteenth-century and elegant Grexino bridge that connects the town center with the small Grecino district.

Varese Ligure curiosity

Varese Ligure was the first Italian municipality to obtain environmental certifications (ISO 14001 and EMAS) and in 2004 it was awarded by the European Union as the best rural community. He got the orange flag from the Italian Touring Club and is counted among the most beautiful village in Italy.
Traditions and popular beliefs of the past;
- When it had not rained for a long time, it was customary to wet the feet of the seventeenth-century statue of the Madonna del Castello, placed in a niche facing the square.
- The egg shells used to make ravioli during the Carnival period, were kept at home throughout the year because they had to preserve the house from any fires.
- When it was thought that a woman "carried badly", if she entered a house, those who lived there covered up any containers that contained milk for fear that the latter would go bad.

Varese Ligure considerations

Varese Ligure is a small but characteristic village, clean and tidy that deserves to be visited. Its characteristic is best appreciated from above (see the photos / taken from the drone), but even walking along it you can appreciate this peculiarity well. There are many parts rebuilt with abundant use of plaster that ends up covering the ancient wall structure that was only partially enhanced. The general state of conservation is discreet and this is certainly due to the fact that the village is still inhabited therefore alive.

Where is Varese Ligure

Varese Ligure photo gallery

All photos, albums and videos on this site are by Robert.
Complete photo album
of Varese Ligure
Complete photo slideshow
of Varese Ligure

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Medieval villages near Varese Ligure

(Parma - IT)
(La Spezia - IT)

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