Santo Stefano d’Aveto is a charming, mountain hamlet of Liguria. It is actually a ski resort and a place where you can do trekking and hiking through the tranquil, numerous trails that you can find here. It is located in the Aveto Valley. For sure it is a perfect place where to rest and relax.
How to reach Santo Stefano d’Aveto?
- by car – The town is not directly reachable by motorway. The best way to reach it by car is to arrive at first to Chiavari and then take an SP225 road to Carasco and then from Carasco, following indications to Santo Stefano d’Aveto using the road SP586. It takes about 1 hour to arrive from Chiavari to Santo Stefano d’Aveto.
- by bus – there is the line 11 that connects Chiavari with Santo Stefano d’Aveto. The trip takes about 2 hours (!). More info here.
The town was likely founded during prehistoric times, and the first mention of this town was during the II century BC, where at the foot of Monte Penna a battle between the Romans and Ligurians took place. In the XII century AD, Emperor Barbarossa conferred the fief of Santo Stefano d’Aveto upon the Malaspina Family, who then constructed a castle. The fief was then passed on to another, noble family, the Fieschi Family and later to the Doria Family. All related by an elaborate intermarriage network of noble families. Then arrived the period of Bonaparte domination and after his fall, the town became a part of Kingdom of Sardinia. In 1861 Santo Stefano d’Aveto became a part of United Italy.
When you arrive here, probably the first place you see will be a big parking place in the front of the local castle.
Malaspina Castle was built in the XIII century. The castle is located off the central piazza of the town and features a highly irregular polygonal base. Recently the castle was restored and it is open to the public. Inside you can see the rests of the original structures of the building.
From the castle, you can go to the centre of the old town of Santo Stefano d’Aveto. It is a charming part of the town that consists of principally 2 streets: via al Castello and Piazza della Vittoria. The architecture here is different from the one in Riviera but it is very picturesque and lovely as well.
In the old town centre, you can find shops where you can buy some local products like cheese, mushrooms, cakes and salami (all eco-friendly and delicious!).
Then from the old part of the town, you can take Viale Emanuele Razzetti street which leads you to the main church of the town.
The sanctuary of the Our Lady of Guadalupe
The present church was built in 1929. Among the relics it holds is a bronze medallion of Columbus mounted on the main door.
The town was given the honour of “Orange Flag” in 2006, a symbol of superior quality for tourism, and awarded only to smaller inland communities to distinguish these towns for excellence and hospitality. What is more, the town is best known as a site for trekking or hiking, horse riding, and skiing. The local mountains are a favourite destination for recreational skiing.
The mountains here are quite high and the trekking through local trails is very pleasant. The most important peaks here are:
- Monte Maggiorasca (1,809 m)
- Monte Bue (1,775 m)
- Monte Penna (1,735)
- Monte Tomarlo (1,602 m)
- Groppo Rosso (1,592 m)
They all are located in the Parco Naturale Regionale dell Aveto. They are all very well indicated and allow you to spend fantastic days through the mountains. In the future post, I am going to describe the trails of this zone.
Mushrooms gathered in the wild, are a very popular delicacy of the town. There exists a long-standing tradition among the men in the town to hunt and gather mushrooms but to never reveal the source. This tradition, however, has received the attention of the government, and the gathering of mushrooms is now strictly regulated.
What else can I add? I’m sure that Santo Stefano d’Aveto is a place to be where you can take a rest from the crowds of Cinque Terre, hike in quite high mountains or even skiing when it’s snow! Absolutely recommended!