Let’s start off with a good question – why should anyone consider coming to Bedonia? The first most obvious answer to that is that we townsfolk are such lovely people, you really need to come meet us! We’re joking of course, meaning that we certainly are lovely (!) but that isn’t perhaps the reason that immediately springs to mind! Let’s think of some others then….
Bedonia itself is a cute little man-sized town, with an interesting historical centre. When sauntering along the narrow roads lined with old houses, observing the architecture in some parts which dates back to the last century, the feeling is that of being in another age, which can be very appealing to those who love the olde worlde atmosphere. Furthermore, our valley is embraced all around by woods, fields, forests and mountains (we are situated at an altitude of 1500ft), which are riddled with clearly indicated white trails, for the joy of hikers or cyclists. Undoubtedly two excellent reasons for coming here, but here’s an even better one – we are NEAR.
Near to what? To anywhere, to anything. Bedonia is a convenient starting point for visiting loads of places, given it’s vicinity to the motorway, and to the railway station in Borgotaro.
For instance, a mere hour and a half away from Bedonia lies one of the most frequently requested areas to visit, the gem of the dramatic Riviera Levante, which runs from Genoa to La Spezia – the “Cinque Terre”; Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Tourists simply gape in wonder at the beauty of what were once poor fishing villages, perched in the most improbable and incredible way on cliffs overlooking a crystal sea, originally inaccessible if not by boat or on foot. Villages which, despite the popularity showered upon them in recent years, have retained their original charm. Consequently it is no surprise that the Cinque Terre were awarded the well-deserved honour of being included in the “WORLD HERITAGE LIST” by the UNESCO in 1997, as one of Italy’s many beautiful assets. Furthermore, in 1999, the Cinque Terre National Park was founded.
This rugged piece of coastline has an interesting history too; the area was already inhabited in the Bronze Age, as proven by findings of bones and tools. The strategic position was widely exploited during the Roman Empire, but when, in the 9th century, the Saracens occupied the region, a mass destruction of small villages took place, and the local inhabitants sought refuge in the hills. Later, in the 11th century, when the Tuscan Obertenghi family sent the Saracens packing, the locals moved back down to the sea and began to build the masterpieces that still amaze us to this day; the natural forests and steep slopes were painstakingly transformed into terraces, on which vines were planted, bordered by skilfully constructed dry-stone walls. In this period, commerce on the sea also began.
In the 12th century,the region became part of the republic of Genoa, although two days were necessary to sail from the villages to the city. It was only in the 15th century that the name “Cinque Terre” came into use. In the 16th century, the villages and all the Ligurian coast were subjected to frequent pirate attacks, consequently a strong defence system was developed. At this point, the area had become renowned for its excellent wine production, but in the 17th century, a terrible storm ruined crops and rendered necessary assistance from Genoa. Other natural disasters followed, causing the population of the Five Lands to decrease significantly, but, by the mid 1800’s, the wine market had recovered considerably and more vines were planted.
In 1870 Italy was unified; thanks to the many new railways built in that period, the Cinque Terre finally became accessible by train via the Genoa-Rome line, and by the 1960’s, the winding coastal road was terminated, offering an amazing panorama over the villages and the sea. This makes it easy to reach not only the Cinque Terre, but all the equally beautiful neighbouring towns dotted along the coast, one of which has a romantic story to tell; Lord Byron, libertine, emblem of freedom and of a rebellious new generation of artists, a so-called “damned poet”, loved to sit and meditate in a grotto in nearby Portovenere. Legend has it that he dived into the sea and swam for 8km to reach his poet colleague Percy Shelley, who was staying at San Terenzo (another town on the coast).
In the 70’s, after having visited the five hidden villages, an American travel writer gave wonderful reviews about these places in his guidebooks. The word spread, the Cinque Terre were suddenly on the map, and things were never the same again!
So, as we were saying – Bedonia is NEAR….and this is just one of the many options available to guests at Villa Tre Angeli. Come see for yourself!