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The Lombarda Salt Road

Oltrepò Pavese: an itinerary to complete on foot, on horseback, or by mountain bike.

The Lombarda Salt Road

The little wedge of land south of Milan known as Oltrepò Pavese, is covered by great expanses of grapevines, carpeting hills for as far as the eye can see, living proof of the area's centuries-old wine making tradition.

Pavia, the ancient capital of Val Padana and an important transit and resting station on the via Francigena since the Middle Ages, has perfectly conserved its appearance of a wealthy provincial capital: its colonnaded streets and piazzas lined with any number of elegant shops and stylish street cafés. Among the city's many historic buildings, Palazzo degli Eustachi, Collegio Borromeo, the University, and Visconteo Castle are, perhaps, the most worthwhile visiting. Of course, all these risk paling into insignificance when compared with the Charterhouse of Pavia, the stunning religious complex located just a few kilometers north of the city.

Voghera, surrounded by gently undulating hills, is the most important tourist destination in Oltrepò Pavese and there is no end to the number of attractive farm stays, pretty country hotels, and traditional rural inns in the area, in which you can enjoy a relaxing vacation in contact with nature. Despite being an important road and rail hub, Voghera is a garden city, with plenty of green areas and parks. Historically, the town provided an important stopping point on the Via del Sale Lombarda, the trading route which, via the Staffora Valley, the Giovà Pass, and Mount Antola, made the transportation of salt from Genoa to Piedmont possible.

Merchants and pilgrims traveling along the road also passed through Varzi, Torriglia, San Sebastiano and Bobbio, towns which are all now part of a tourist itinerary along which any number of ancient castles and churches can be seen and such renowned gastronomic specialties as Varzi's DOP salame can be savored.

Varzi is a pretty little town, featuring narrow little lanes and colonnades, which once offered respite to merchants and their mules. The town conserves much of its medieval appearance, particularly seen in the Porta Soprana and Porta Sottana towers (all that remains of the old perimeter walls), and the castle which once belonged to the all-powerful Malaspina family. Just a few kilometers away, in the district of Cella, is the Tempio della Fraternità, a house of worship built in memory of all those to have died in combat and constructed using material from buildings destroyed during the Second World War.

From Varzi, the Via del Sale continues on towards Monte Chiappo, the slopes of which reach a height of just over 1600 meters above sea level, and where the borders of Piedmont, Emilia Romagna and Lombardy meet. Before reaching Bobbio, take time to stop at the Pietra Corva Alpine Garden, where some 1300 species of plants including the fritillaria tenella, which has become the garden's symbol, are grown. An important educational institution and nature reserve created in the late 1960's, the garden features a fascinating museum, and pathways along which you can catch sight of deer, weasels and squirrels.

The appeal of Bobbio lies in its enchanting historic center which contains numerous important works of architecture dating back to the town's past as obligatory port of call on the Via del Sale: such as the Castle belonging to the omnipotent Malaspina family and the Ponte Vecchio, also known as the hunchback or devil's bridge due to the irregular nature of its eleven different arches. The 9th century Abbey of San Colombano more than merits a visit.

Itineraries

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Hotel nelle vicinanze

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Hotel Galles

Milano

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Enterprise Hotel

Milano

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The Bulgari Hotel

Milano

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Boscolo Milano

Milano

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Grand Visconti Palace

Milano

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Grand Hotel et De Milan

Milano

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Hotel Milano Scala

Milano

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Carlton Hotel Baglioni

Milano

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Hotel Excelsior Magenta

Magenta

Altri link utili
Lombardy (tutti gli hotel)
Oltrepò Pavese Hotels
Pavia Hotels