On the Salt Road from Zuccarello to Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena. A walk combining two charming villages and two stunning castles
Price: 12 €/per person
Classification: route of historical and natural interest
The excursion offers us a chance to get a glimpse of the history and nature of Liguria while going off the beaten track.
At Zuccarello’s front door we are greeted by a bronze statue of Ilaria Del Carretto, the daughter of the Marquis of Zuccarello and wife of Paolo Guinigi, lord of Lucca. Ilaria Del Carretto died in childbirth in 1405 at only 26 years old. She is best known for the funeral monument that her husband commissioned Jacopo della Quercia to make in her honor, which still stands in Lucca Cathedral. Beyond the entrance into the village, a series of characteristic medieval double porticos lead us to the end of the village, all the way past the church.
Just before the northern gate, there is the marked path that takes us to the ruins of Zuccarello Castle. It is possible to see what remains of the castle where Ilaria was born from the outside.
We will then continue along the road, amongst the terraces of olive and chestnut trees. We will find a small white chapel on the route, and after about an hour and a half from the start, we will arrive at Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena.
The village has a circular in structure and is perched on a rocky spur overlooked by the huge feudal castle built by the Clavesana family and long owned by the Del Carrettos (now, unfortunately, it is private and closed to the public). Once in the center, it is pleasant to stroll through the narrow, winding alleys, untouched for a thousand years, and sit on a bench in the pretty Piazza della Torre, also known as “dell’impiccato.” Just in front of the beautiful semi-baroque style church we will be able to find another space where it is possible to rest, with splendid views of the Neva river.
The road we will take to complete our loop to Zuccarello is a section of the ancient Via del Sale, on which slow caravans transporting salt from the coast to the hinterland once passed, as well as merchants and soldiers. The trail goes up and down but always stays alongside the Neva River and much of it is within a forest.