It’s always charming to visit long history places. Especially when they are Deep Treasures so close to us. We bring you to the discovery of Liguria’s ancient mills in the Aveto Park. Local tradition and manual ability mix in to offer a slow tourist experience between the Apennines and Val d’Aveto. In a fairy-like frame.

When did we start to prefer industrial towns to the countryside, deep in nature? It’s a long story, there are a thousand reasons, and we’re not here to talk about them. But if today we increasingly live in urban spaces, when we travel we love to dive into nature and the history of what we were. We travel to discover Deep Treasures around us. “Deep Treasures” is actually the name given to a EU funded project, which aims to empower slow tourism in untouched Mediterranean areas. Also, it wants to challenge the overtourism that plagues a lot of places, ruined by mass tourism. Among these Deep Treasures, there is the Aveto Park, Liguria.

Facing Tigullio Gulf, deep in lush forests, there are hamlets full of history, ancient mills and long trails to walk by. Landscapes are astonishing: olive groves, vineyards, chestnut woods and highlands with pastures and mountain cottages, where you can enjoy glimpses of sea and wild horses. Let’s start discovering Aveto Park deep treasures. Ancient mills tell the memory of the place, the long peasant history, ancient typical productions but also zero km specialties.

Belpiano Mill

Mulino Belpiano is located in the Aveto Natural Regional Park, in the small village of Borzonasca. Built in the 18th century, the current structure dates back to 1832. It’s unique in the region of maybe even in Italy. It is quite unusual as it’s made of two adjacent parts, one of which is 7 metres high and it’s called the “tower”.

The unique structure of the Belpiano mill, with the "tower", seen from outside. Aveto Park, Liguria, Italy
The unique structure of the Belpiano mill, with the “tower”

It wasn’t built near a stream, but closer to the neighbourhood. Then a system of channels was added to convey the waterflow. For this reason, it is also characterized by another very special detail: an horizontal turbine, which is more functional than a vertical one, given the limited amount of water.

Inside the Belpiano mill
Inside the Belpiano mill

The Belpiano Mill has remained inactive for more than 60 years, and just a part of it was finally reactivated in 2016. At Christmas time, the mill is open to visitors who wants to admire the typical nativity scene of Belpiano, besides the peculiar architecture of the building. The Regional Directorate for Cultural Heritage described it as a “very important place of cultural interest”.

The Mill of Gramizza

A little further north in the Aveto valley, we find the small town of Gramizza, a district of Santo Stefano d’Aveto. Here we have Fontana Liliana, a farm with an ancient mill, still functioning. It is one of the flagships of the farm, together with the sawmill.

The sawmill of the farm Fontana Liliana, Aveto Park, Liguria, Italy
The sawmill of the farm

The building here is adjacent to a stream, the evocative Gramizza, and it’s open year-round. The peculiarity of this place is given by the fact that is entirely powered by water. The waters of the stream move a Persian wheel, driving the mechanism of the two productive structures.

The mill of Gramizza is powered by water energy. Here the Persian wheel that drives the mechanism. Aveto Park, Liguria, Italy
The mill of Gramizza is powered by water energy

The mill has three working grindstones: one for the wheat, one for the corn and one for chestnuts. This latter is an additional peculiarity: indeed, in the property there is an area devoted to chestnut trees of ancient local ecotypes. The company sells flour of different types and seasonal vegetables.

A bag full of flour
The farm produces different types of flour

Wonders of the Aveto Park

Aveto Park is a green area to explore, a gem of the Ligurian Apennines. It is well known for mountain tourism and wood crafting. Touristic offer is varied: peaks and hamlets, forests and lakes. Here you can practice many sport activities: ski in winter or fishing and hiking all the year. As of local culture, don’t miss the events about peasant traditions, as the annual Transumanza in Santo Stefano d’Aveto. Typical products can satisfy all taste preferences. The sweetest one with Pinolata and different varieties of honey and the savory with local cheeses and salami.

A little further west, a few kilometers from the Piedmontese border, in another valley crossed by a stream, you can find the ancient village of Tonno. From here, it starts a path that leads to an entire complex of buildings, dating back to 1420. Once again, we’re talking about ancient mills (two mills and a silo, actually) with the original millstones, still visible. All in the fairy-tale setting of a forest adjacent to the river.

Stream in Aveto Park, Liguria, Italy

Staying in the Aveto Park

The perfect accommodation for this itinerary is Centro Anidra. It is an ancient mills transformed in a holiday farm and renovated according to Feng Shui rules, located in Borzonasca. Centro Anidra is a B&B with an attached eco-campsite, therefore the guest can choose the stay fitting better their needs and preferences. The main element of the structure is certainly the wood. In addition to the receptive function, Centro Anidra offers spaces for conferences and seminars, yoga courses and wellness programs. Furthermore, there is an organized Aperitour in the park, a tasting itinerary of biological zero-mile products, accompanied by local wines. In the end, there are the laboratories of the Educational Farm for children and teens, also used as school trips. Meet the animals of the farm, discover the plants of the medieval garden, go up the river, create with materials, shapes and colours of nature and rediscover the art of ancient crafts. Learn how to interact with the environment, respecting and enhancing it without waste. You can’t miss it!

Did you know that Liguria hides these wonders? A real journey through time, to an era in which man was symbiotic with nature. Such captivating and suggestive stories and places can help us rediscover the value of that peaceful (and not abusive) relationship with Mother Earth. How to remain indifferent to this call? Discover the eco-friendly accommodations of the area and let yourself be seduced!

You may also like:

Stura Valley and Beigua Park: the nature of Liguria

Not only sea: Liguria, between carruggi and nature

5 Myths About Ecotourism You Need to Stop Believing