Where it is
Zerba is situated in the Boreca Valley and it is possible to reach it following State Road 45 Piacenza – Genova, and then turning onto Provincial Road 18.
It is the least populated village of Emilia Romagna and it lays in the western part of it.
Boreca Valley, formed by Boreca Stream, a tributary of the river Trebbia, lays in the core of a large area called “Appennino delle 4 province(The Apennine of the 4 Provinces)”, where the mountains of the provinces of Piacenza, Genoa, Alessandria and Pavia border and are culturally grouped with common habits and traditions.
Why visit it
The mountain landscape is extraordinarily beautiful and unspoilt: the mountains rich in clear waters are covered by high prairies above the woods, while the valley bottom is characterized by overhangs on the Boreca.
A legend tells that Zerba was founded by some Carthaginian soldiers of the army of Hannibal who retreated to these areas after the Battle of the Trebbia (Rivalta, 218 BC). This would be the reason for the similarity between some place names in the Boreca Valley and some in Tunisia: Zerba/Djerba, Suzzi/Sussie, Bogli/Bougie; an ancient mule track is also called the Hannibal Road.
The territory, after the Roman conquest passed to the Lombards and to the government of the powerful Abbey of San Colombano di Bobbio. Zerba, like the surrounding areas, was then ceded as a fief to the Malaspina Family, who were the landowners of the area until the Napoleonic suppression.
Zerba is a small village rich in history formed by 5 groups of houses, each one characterized by a monument.
In the upper part of Villa Soprana, there is the church of Saint Michael Archangel, patron Saint of the village. In the Middle Ages it was a monastic cell under the Church of Saint Peter in Ciel d’Oro in Pavia. There is also a rustic building dated from the XVI century, probably a Malaspina house.
In Villa Lisamara you can admire the still working old fountain.
In Villa Scarbione there is the Town Hall of the XX century.
Villa Stana and Villa Fontana are two points from which you can easily enter the Castle – sections of walls and a cylindrical tower – which was an outpost of the Ligurians.
On the table
In the typical restaurants, the cuisine has Lombard, Ligurian and Piedmontese influences.
“Gnocchi” (potato dumplings), a speciality of this area, ravioli pasta with “tucco” (sauce of meat and mushrooms), rice with porcini mushrooms, legume soups, polenta with game, hazelnut cake and chestnut cake called “castagnaccio”.
The wines range from local wines, to Piedmont’s and those of Oltrepò Pavese.
The area in the municipality of Zerba and its surroundings are an “outdoor gym”.
Tourism is mainly made up of people who hike and go skiing in the winter season.
The favourite destinations of hikers are the mounts Alfeo (1650 m.), Cavalmurone (1670 m.), Chiappo (1700 m.), Tartago (1688 m.) and Lesima (1724 m.), all of them among the highest peaks of the Apennines. Projects are underway to connect the inhabitants of the municipality restoring the ancient mule tracks passable by mountain bike.
Nearby is the famous tourist resort of Capannette di Cosola.
A Local Association that is dedicated to enlivening the evenings of August and September has been active in Zerba for 55 years.
The first event of the season is between 6th and 12th August with the feast of the Madonna of the Snow, the “Polentata” on 14th August and the patron Saint Michael festival on 29th September, with traditional “Festa del Gnocco” -Potato Dumplings feast- and an exhibition of mountain products.
In the surroundings
The village of Cerreto, with its characteristic stone houses and the Church of Saint Rocco founded in the Middle Ages; interesting is the mill, in which an electric turbine was installed in the 1950s.
Another interesting village in the area, belonging to the municipality of Ottone, is Bogli. For lovers of classical music, it is known that the village gave birth to the ancestors of Arturo Toscanini.