Project Description

Rocche Bianche

Rocche Bianche

Where it is

The stone monument dedicated to the heroes of the Resistance can be found next to the local church and tells a lot about the history of Quiliano, a small municipality in the Savona hinterland. The memory of the partisan struggle is still alive here paying homage to the many citizens who went up into the mountains to fight or who committed to becoming volunteers. The almost total aversion of the local population to the dictatorship made this valley on the border between the municipalities of Quiliano and Vado a nerve centre for the resistance struggle, as you can easily understand from the hundreds of stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Some heroic, others sadder, such as that of Nicolò Peluffo, a priest who fell into an ambush of the Fascist police and was machined gunned down with 13 shots without any reason in May 1945 in front of his home. One of bullets actually passed through the prayer book that the priest was holding to his chest (today preserved at the Parish of Vado Ligure, where he had just been appointed as assistant parish priest).

Wind Farm
Where to sleep
Where to eat
Where to eat and sleep

Browse the map and discover the places to visit, where to eat and where to stay, chosen by Legambiente

Leaving Valleggia, a part of the Municipality of Quiliano, and climbing up the panoramic road that takes you to the wind farm of Rocche Bianche, in operation since the spring of 2020, on the left looking down, you will see in the distance, we are technically in the borough of Tiassano, an anonymous building. But with its own historical style. It was, indeed, in that house that in the first days of December 1926, Sandro Pertini and Filippo Turati, the first secretary of the Italian Socialist Party, were offered refuge by their friend Italo Oxilia, before fleeing aboard the motorboat “Oriens” from the port of Savona for Corsica.

A territory to be discovered

However, the whole valley is full of stories, tales and memories. An excellent way to combine the partisan history with the natural beauty of an area still little known is to walk the Roviasca loop trail, an itinerary of about 11 kilometres that follows an old track through chestnut and beech forests and passes through some memorable places. Such as the caves used as a refuge in clandestine times or the Teccio del Tersè, an old chestnut drying plant that is today a hikers’ refuge, but in the past a symbolic place for the local resistance, where the first group of Savona partisan fighters was formed, taking the name of Francesco Calcagno (later shot). A place still today, around April 25, used for commemorating the period.

Of course, the fascination of these areas does not end with the partisan stories. The excursionist group La Rocca, active for more than 35 years, organises walks along the valley for locals and visitors. There are different options, beginning with the old trail that starts from Valleggia and ends up in Termine. Today, given that the road has been paved you can arrive there by car and then continue walking along the dirt road that passing by the wind farm and takes you to Campo dei Francesi, where there was once a Napoleonic encampment, when the French troops on General Massena’s command, clashed with the Austrian-Hungarian army. There are also rumours that there is still a Napoleonic treasure buried hereabouts – Napoleon Bonaparte’s name is always linked to the most incongruent legends – but no one has ever found it. From here, with a final effort, it’s worth reaching Rocca dei Corvi, a small mountain at an altitude of 800 metres on the seaward side of the alpine chain and from whose summit you can enjoy a marvelous view of the Ligurian Apennines, the Apuan Alps, and if you are lucky, the island of Elba and even  Corsica. Moreover, below the Rocca,  there is one of the lowest lying beech forests in all of Liguria.

The area is also popular with mountain bike enthusiasts, but you must be fit with strong legs, given that the slopes are steep and the plains little more than a mirage. A less tiring alternative is to follow the wise choice of the Vada Sabatium Outsider Association, which for a couple of years now has been committed to recovering the old vehicular roads, those with a stone base, cleaning them and bringing them once again to light, the final aim being to develop a network becoming accessible to all.

During the pandemic, a track ironically renamed I Domiciliari (the home track) became quite well used, a one way technical track beginning from Campo dei Francesi and descending towards the sea to Vado. However, for the more sportive there is also the possibility to start from Rocche Bianche, the watershed for the different municipalities, to reach Altare and Val Bormida, passing by Mount Baraccone and linking up with the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri trail. There is also no shortage of horse-riding options. You just need to be ready for a bit of healthy exertion and sweat.

A particular biodiversity

The valley between Vado and Quiliano is also known for its particular biodiversity. “It is characteristic of most of Liguria”, recounts Laura Brattel, a linguist by study and botanist by passion, “however, this area has an extraordinary wealth. I have been able to identify 38 wild edible plant species, which we use in our prebuggiùn”, a mix of herbs used as a dressing for typical local dishes, such as savoury pies and quiches and the so-called ravioli di magro (stuffed with ricotta and spinach). As well, Laura adds, the valley of Quiliano also has the honour of hosting one of the most beautiful and amazing orchids that exists. “It is Ophrys fuciflora, a marvelous and highly unique flower that reproduces in the form, colour and even smell of the female insect of the species that uses it for its pollination. We are speaking about the highest level in floral evolution”.

Coming back to energy, this wind farm will actually be the first to be used directly to recharge electric vehicles. During the summer of 2022, at Vado Ligure at the Savona exit of the A10 tollway, a Recharge Hub, with renewable energy from the Rocche Bianche wind farm, will be opened.

The tradition of the “Witch Stone”

Finally, a last curiosity. Climbing up from Valleggia towards the road leading to the wind farm, at a certain point you can see along the roadside different stone blocks that probably had been originally part of one huge pyramid-shaped rock, 4 metres in height and 3 metres wide. A sign explains that it is the Pietra della Strega (Witch’s Stone), Pria da Stria in local dialect. It is said that in the past the stone had been attributed with sacred powers and was used in fertility rites. Even up to the end of the 1800s, women who could not have children made the pilgrimage there to “rub” the stone’s stomach in the hope they would remain pregnant. Today, this old tradition, that some even date back to the paleolithic age, has naturally been lost, but the locals all know the story and the stone over time has become a less religious reference point used by hikers climbing up into the mountains.