Visit Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena
The quiet village of Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena is in the hills about 15 kilometres north-west of Albenga in the western part of Liguria. Although it is small, the village is interesting to explore because of its very well preserved medieval centre, and the castle that overlooks the village from the hill behind.
Exploring Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena
Park outside the village - there is no point trying to get around the narrow streets in a car - then just stroll around the historic alleys admiring the lovely little stone houses and their ancient architectural features that give the village its character.
In places within the village there are ancient stone arches across the alleys and vaulted passageways to explore, and you will also notice the traditional village washhouse. One unusual feature is the 'bulging' area on the outside wall of some of the houses - this is because the houses were built to incorporate ovens within their structure, and the bulges are where the ovens are in the walls.
You will also see the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, a very simple small church that was originally built in the 15th century, and then substantially altered in the 17th century to incoporate baroque style elements.
There are also a few shops and restaurants, but generally facilities are quite limited in Castelvecchio di Rocca. In fact one of the most surprising things about the village is how quiet and unspoiled it is, although the bustling Liguria coast is so close - yet seems a world away.
Behind the village is a large rocky outcrop with the castle on top - called the Castello dei Clavesana, this dates from the 9th to 10th century and was here before the village, which developed from the 11th century onwards around the outside of the castle walls. The castle was damaged during a siege by an army from Genoa in 1672, since when it has been in its current ruined condition.
The village of Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena is also very unusual in having been listed both as one of the 'most beautiful villages in Italy' AND as an 'Orange Flag' town, an award given for sustainable tourism. This is a clue as to how well the village has been preserved and looked after!
Getting here and local attractions
The road to get to Castelvecchio di Rocca from Alassio or Albenga, which passes through the villages of Zuccarello and Cisano, also gives you a chance to enjoy the attractive wooded valleys of the region so a trip is recommended when you are visiting this part of Liguria. You might like to also stop for a quick stroll around Zuccarello as you pass it to see the ancient stone bridge over the river and the (rather sparse!) ruins of a castle.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Liguria guide.