The Park Hotel is ideal when you want to visit different interesting places within an hour drive (or cycling).
Going up the Staffora valley towards Varzi, we can suggest some interesting scenic itineraries of cultural interest.
First stop is Godiasco, a town of ancient origins. It’s worth seeing the medieval borough and the remains of the old Castle were Giuliano De Medici and Pope Leon X sought refuge.
Also on the road to Varzi we recommend a visit to the small borough of Cecima at the top of a promontory, and the Church of St. Martino Vescovo (a national monument) with its notable terracotta rose window dated 1000 D.C.
From Cecima you can reach San Ponzo Semola and visit the remains of ancient catacombs, a sign of prosecution of early Christians.
A few kilometres on the opposite side of the valley, you will reach the Hermitage of Sant’Alberto di Butrio, in the borough of Pontenizza, founded in XI century, containing frescos of high historical and artistic value.
Always on the Penice road you will reach Varzi, capital of the Oltrepo, home of its famous salame, renowned for its protected and controlled production. Also to see in the area, Torre dei Malaspina. The medieval borough, the ancient “botteghe” (old shop) in their original splendour, the Reds and Whites churches, the old walls towers Sottana and Soprana, the church of San Germano (XIII century) , the Church of Cappucines hosting the monument to San Francis.
6 Kms from Varzi on the border with Piemonte, in the village of Cella, raises the Temple of the Fraternity of People, built with the war remains found in war fields all around the world. Always in Varzi you can reach other interesting sites of the Pavese Appenine: Menconico, home of the truffles, mushrooms and “nisso” cheese (nicknamed “the walking cheese”….), raising on Monte Penice (1,460 m asl) is the Santuary devoted to the Holy Virgin, Pian del Poggio (1400m), Cegni, famous for its summer carnival, Pian dell’Armà (1700m), Chiappo Mountain (1699m), Brallo di Pregola, Romagnese and its alpine botanic garden, home to numerous and rare plants from all over the world and Zavattarello with its beautiful Local Council building.
Another itinerary, starting from Salice Terme, goes from Godiasco and runs along Ardivestra Valley.
Pieve di San Zaccaria is a precious example of romanic art built around 1000 D.C., and the Castle of Montesegale, a private home, is perfectly preserved and a great example of Malaspinian’s medieval architectural.
Further up the road in Fortunago, home to the Castle of Stefanago (XV century), there is the Coppa Valley and the beautiful village of Borgoratto Mormolo and Borgo Priolo, famous for its scenery and grape growing.
Further along Montebello della Battaglia is famous for the battle between Austrians and Piemontese during the third war of independence (20 May 1859).
Another interesting itinerary commencing in Broni or Stradella (the latter famous around the world for the manufacturing of accordions) is the one along the Valle Versa, the most prestigious spot for wine production in the Oltrepo. Before reaching Santa Maria della Versa, home to the Oltrepo “spumante”. Canneto Pavese, Montù Beccaria, Montescano and their wine cellars are worth a visit.
From Santa Maria della Versa you can reach Montalto pavese and its beautiful castle.
Along the Via Emilia towards Piacenza, after Torrazza Coste and its “cantina sociale” (where local grape growers have their wine produced), you reach Casteggio, a big agricultural and industrial centre, home to the production of red wines and host to the prestigious annual wine show.
We also recommend a visit to the Church St. Cuore and St. Peter Apostole, to the Certosa Cantu and its important archaeological museum and the remains of Hannibal Fountain.
Toward this path along the Pavese Apennine, you arrive in Torricella Verzate, where you can visit the “Scala Santa” (Saint Stairs), not far from the parochial church and the 14 small chapels representing the steps of the Via Crucis.
This itinerary ends in Cigognola where it is possible to visit an old and towering stable. Its tower was built in the year 1.000.
At half an hour from Salice you find Pavia which is the main town of the Pavia’s province. Lying on the left bank of the Ticino river, the flourishing city of Pavia is an agricultural, commercial and industrial centre. It is also home to the important University of Pavia.
The chief centre of the so-called Regnum Italicum during the rule of the Longobardi and the Franks, today the city is exceptional for the age and beauty of its Mediaeval buildings. Its most outstanding architectural treasures are Castello Visconteo (Visconti castle), the university, the cathedral and the S. Michele church. Pavia is also home to the extraordinary natural beauty of the Parco Regionale Lombardo (Lombardia National Park) in the Ticino valley. The Certosa di Pavia Carthusian monastery and the town of Vigevano (world capital of shoes making) with its splendid Renaissance piazza are among the province’s artistic gems.
We also suggest visiting Valenza, in Piemonte, which is considered to be the European capital of gold craft and precious stones, and home to The Benvenuto Cellini School of jewellery making.
Castellania, home to the Italian cycling champion Fausto Coppi has an interesting cycling museum.
The sea side, in Genoa, is of course an easy choice with the near Portofino’s gulf.
Milan, the world capital of designer shopping is just an hour drive away.
Serravalle Outlet, with over 210 stores including clothing, footwear and accessories shops with the best brands, offering products from previous seasons at prices discounted from 30% to 70% all year is at 20 minutes drive.