Zuccarello is a small, picturesque hamlet located in the hinterland of West Liguria. Today it is not important anymore but in the past, it was a very powerful marquisate that had connections even with the Republic of Lucca in Tuscany. But let’s start from the very beginning.
How to reach Zuccarello?
- by car – it is definitely the best way of reaching it! You can use A10 motorway, exit motorway at Albenga and then take the road SP582 that brings you to Zuccarello in about 15 minutes. More info here.
- by train + by bus – you can also reach it by using public means of transport. You can arrive at Albenga by train (more info here) and then take a bus (line 75) from the bus stop located in the front of the Albenga’s train station. It takes about 30 minutes to arrive from Albenga to Zuccarello by bus. The bus ticket costs 1€.
The first information about Medieval hamlet comes from the XIII century. It became very important because of its strategical position and was the object of numerous disputes of local noble families. At the beginning of the XIV century, it became the capital of marquisate under the important Clavesana family. Then, after the arranged marriage Zuccarello became the property of Del Carretto family. Thanks to them, the whole marquisate became even more powerful. Del Carretto family kept very tight bonds with the Duchy of Milan and with the Republic of Genoa. However, the most famous bond of Zuccarello is connected with Signoria of Lucca that was legitimize with the marriage between Ilaria Del Carretto, a daughter of Carlo I Del Caretto, the marquis of Zuccarello and Paolo Guinigi, the Lord of Lucca in Tuscany. However, at the end of the XVI century started the decline of the marquisate and after some period it became a part the Republic of Genoa. At the end of the XVIII century, the hamlet became a part of the French Empire and after its fall of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Then, finally, in 1861 became a part of United Italy.
The things to see & do
Via Armando Tornatore
When you arrive at Zuccarello the first thing you’ll notice is its main street via Armando Tornatore. It is the street that comes across the whole historical centre of Zuccarello, from the north to the south and along the Neva River. If you start from its northern part, the first thing you see will be Porta Soprana, the northern gate of Zuccarello. From there you enter the historical centre that is characterized by porches. The street got the actual appearance at the end of the Medieval Era when the porches became the heart of the hamlet commercial activities. Strolling along the street you will see numerous restaurants, souvenir shops and bars.
San Bartolomeo Church
When you going to the south you will reach the local church. It was built in the XIII century and its facade is decorated in the Romanesque and Gothic style. Instead, its interiors are richly decorated in Baroque style.
The “Good Arrival” Step
On the left from the church’s entrance, you can see a very particular element of local tradition. The “good arrival step” was a kind of a free zone where the prisoners or convicted could ask the grace to the Marquises.
The “Whipping Column”
In front of the church, you can see another particularity of Zuccarello: the whipping column. It is a black slate column to which convicted were tide to and then whipped.
The medieval bridge
At the middle of the via Armando Tornatore street you can turn right. A narrow street will lead you to the bridge over
Neva river. This is one of the most characteristic and picturesque elements of the hamlet. Although it is often cited as
Romanesque bridge, it is more likely to be late medieval.
Palace of the Marquises
Turning back to the main street you can continue and arrive at the Palace of Marquises – the place where lived the Marquises Del Carretto. It was also an important place where the peace between Genoa and the Marquisate was signed. Nowadays, it is a private house but you can admire its frescos and bas-reliefs located on its facade.
Porta Sottana – The South Gate
Next to the palace, you will another gate of Zuccarello. Actually, it is the first, characteristic building of the hamlet that you can notice when you arrive from Albenga. It was built in the Medieval era and modified during the ages. Nowadays it became a private house.
Statute of Ilaria del Carretto
As mentioned above, the most famous person from Zuccarello was Ilaria del Carretto. You can see her statue next to the southern gate of the hamlet. She was the daughter of Carlo, the Marchese del Carretto. In 1403 she married Paolo Guinigi, the Lord of Lucca, Tuscany and they had two children. She died in Lucca at the age of twenty-six after giving birth to her daughter. It is said that Paolo Guinigi was so desperate and upset that after her death he commissioned to the famous sculptor, Jacopo Della Quercia, to create a marble sarcophagus of Ilaria. Now the sarcophagus is located in the Cathedral of San Martino in Lucca. Because of the extraordinary beauty of Ilaria, the sculpture became very famous and nowadays is one of the most important tourist attractions of Lucca.
- Zuccarello is inscribed on the list of the most beautiful hamlets of Italy
Even if Zuccarello is not so important as in past ages it is absolutely worth to be visited! Especially that you won’t find here crowds of tourists but silence, history and authentic, Ligurian style 🙂
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