Panoramic trek on the confluence of the Scrivia and Borbera torrents
The particular character of the Borbera valley consists in its nature, which in a large part is still uncontaminated and wild. The strongly modelled range, covered in a rich cloak of vegetation, is populated with numerous wild animals finding here their natural habitat. In sharp contrast to the mountains is the gigantic gorge on the valley floor called “Strette”, with plenty of bights and meanders, excavated by the torrent Borbera. It represents one of the most suggestive areas of the territory.
The gastronomy of the Val Borbera is bound to the use of raw materials and traditional preparations. Specialties are game, mushrooms, chestnuts, fagiolane beans (autochthonous variety) and the cheeses, first of all the Montebore. Walking on the streets and the trails of the Val Borbera the memory of the past is ever present. It’s easy to encounter and admire ruins of old fortifications, rural churches and chapels, water mills, palaces and old villages built in stone.
Our trek begins in the Piazza Risorgimento of Stazzano, from where we follow the white and red CAI trail marks 200. After a short stretch on the central road via Umberto I we reach the Castle, which was turned into a seminary in the second half of the 19th century, and at the end of the 20th century into an old peoples home. Continuing on a wide path immersed in the vegetation we cross the street that ascends from Stazzano. After a few hundred meters, in the neighbourhood of the first two stations of the Via Crucis, we turn left on a carriage road with wide open views on the plain. After a large curve we turn into a steep trail and reach the Sanctuary of Monte Spineto; it is called Spineto (spiny) because of the large quantity of thorny bushes that cover the slopes of the mountain.
The legend says, that at the beginning of the 1600s, during the invasion of the valley by the French, a girl, deaf-and-dumb since birth, saw a dove flutter on a hawthorn bush, which was flowering out of season. The girl cried out the news and for eight days the dove remained in the bush. Many people flocked and the bishop of Tortona decided to build a sanctuary. Returning on the trail with ups and downs along the ridge we arrive at a wide saddle called Bocca del Lupo. We go on until we come across the gravel road of the Capanna. Continuing in eastern direction we arrive first at the farm Chiappa and then at the farmstead Baiardo. The itinerary goes on to a comfortable carriage road and with a generous up and down follows the ridge until it reaches the sanctuary Madonna della Neve in Cà del Bello; it was built in 1672 thanks to the initiative and the devoutness of the population and is situated on a panoramic position with a beautiful view on the Val Borbera below.
Near the sanctuary we continue our trek on the white and red CAI trail 204, which goes down towards Borghetto Borbera, through cool forests of Ostrya carpinifolia, chestnuts, cherry trees and elders, and, after the small bridge, on between cultivated fields and poplar groves before arriving at the village.