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Within the span of ten years, a decaying provincial town has developed into a model of ecological soundness, the only place in Europe with an eco-certification of the EU (according Merian, September 2001).
Varese Lígure was "the other Italy", that of rugged mountains, inaccessible valleys, and barren pastures. 14,000 hectares of chestnut trees, willow, broom, and wild rivers belong to the community, including 27 hamlets scattered all over the mountains.
The inhabitants of this region migrated, or better: fled to the cities in order to survive, so that at a distance of barely 30 km from the Riviera, a whole stretch of land threatened to die. A hinterland village like many others, remote, backward, forgotten - on a parochial territory larger than Milan.
"Optimal conditions for future remodeling and development", stated he (new) major of the area in 1990.
Today, the town, whose facades shine in fresh yellows and oranges, is able to make contact with its great traditions: around 1200, the Fieschi of Genoa built a fortress, a gray stone castle, on the trade route to Parma, which still towers over the "piazza". From here began the ascent of the way of the 100 crosses, the "passo di Cento Croci", which provides a view of the ocean on its left and the fertile valleys of the Emilia on its right hand side.
To meet the commercial needs of the village, the "borgo rotondo" was built in the 15th century - a round of roofed-over buildings, whose arcades protectively surround the marketplace.
Every year in August, opera performances are staged here.
Some two hundred buildings have been restored until now, including beautiful aristocratic palaces, on the outside repelling and massive, on the inside magnificent and spacious.
The distance to Cassego with its museum of agriculture is 4 km; the archaeological excavation site near Maissana is 8 km away.
The beaches of the "Levante" can be reached in less than an hour, as can the Cinque Terre, Lévanto and Sestri Levante.
Easy and direct access to the paths of the upper Vara Valley, which can be explored on foot, on horseback, or by mountain bike. At a distance of 12 km, you reach the Ligurian altitude trail.
There is a swimming pool, tennis courts and riding stables - and everything else you need, all in the best rural quality, with positive connotations.
The usual "mercatino" (market) is held on Tuesday mornings.
The eco-certification of the EU hangs proudly on display in many shop windows of the town. In early 2004, the town has again been honoured by the EU for its excellent "sustainable development".
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