“Drappo tagliato di bianco e di azzurro…” (Descrizione araldica dello stemma)
Having been ruled by the prissy Malaspina family, Rocchetta Vara, on the other hand, appears more “collected”, a handful of houses built of rough stone. The first settlements were of monastic origin, and it was only later that the current urban conformation took shape: having changed the construction materials, following orders from upstairs, we still feel as if we are flying over a fiefdom surrounding the legitimate manor house and accessible through a bridge – which can still be easily used.
As we climb up to Beverone, at an altitude of 700 metres, we meet the clear blue sky and get a glimpse of the Apuan Alps, while in nearby Suvero, the imprint of the family, their deeds, passions and intrigues are brought to life by means of a silent, and certainly haunted, castle, now used as a private residence. To the side of the building, the church of San Giovanni. Also in Suvero, along the road leading to Passo dei Casoni, you absolutely have to take a stroll through the magnificent pine forest skirting the Apennines.
Events and Place of Interest
Rocchetta di Vara is perfect if you are looking for oases of peace and old ruins. Towers and turrets dominate from the homonymous mountain above the village of Cassana; then we have the “Caverna Ossifera”, actually made of limestone – you should know that the name refers to the findings -, the perfect candidate to hold the record as one of the sites with the greatest palaeontological prominence in Italy. It is the same cave of the prehistoric bear.
The Church of Michele Arcangelo, also in Cassana, with its former Romanesque tower converted into a bell tower, and the one that bears the name Santa Maria della Foce, home to a statue of the Immaculate Conception donated by the Lomellini family and, according to tradition, coming from the figurehead of a Genoese ship.
Bathed in a palette of colours ranging from gold to cream, due to its façade, the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Roverano represents, in the Rocchetta area, the oasis of peace par excellence, preceded by a spacious staircase and surrounded by a fragrant, and always appreciated, blossoming of olive trees.
Cultural events are held in Palazzo Vinciguerra.
Suvero, a hamlet where the castle that was originally a defensive post and later the residence of the Malaspina family touches the sky, is filled with laughter and irreverence during carnival: boys dress up, in a deliberately unseemly fashion, for the “Dei Belli e dei Brutti” (The Beautiful and the Ugly) festival, a landmark event throughout the entire province.
In Stadomelli, you incredibly feel as if you have been catapulted to Scotland, and such a phenomenon, complete with haggis and other culinary specialities typical of the British culture, speaks volumes about the depopulation of Val di Vara at the beginning of the 20th century. There was indeed a steady flow of emigrants who, from Stadomelli, moved to the Scottish tip of the United Kingdom to find work. Therefore, today it’s still common to meet families who speak with an impeccable accent or maintain relations with people from overseas. Every summer, in late August, Stadomelli organises a magnificent “Festa Scozzese” (Scottish Festival) to mark the occasion.