The paella and Saracen mussels festival: two events not to be missed in Borgomaro!

The paella and Saracen mussels festival: two events not to be missed in Borgomaro!

“No! Had we known, we would have stayed an extra weekend!” and “Phew! We would have arrived a day earlier if we had known!” are exactly the two phrases most often repeated by our customers when they discover they have just missed the Borgomaro festivals, the traditional and immortal ritual that enlivens the summer evenings of our Impero Valley and beyond.

In fact, you should know that the sagra originates as a typical festival for the patron saint of a village, during which other activities such as fairs, dances, and various entertainments can also take place. This is a type of celebration that here in Liguria, especially in the hinterland, is still synonymous with fun, revelry and goliardy, even among the youngest.

In fact, the term ‘sagra‘ is no longer used only to define the celebration of the patron saint, but the extension of the term generally encompasses a large village party accompanied by good food, wine and lots of music. Normally, all this is made possible by the collaboration of the municipal administration and the local Pro Loco, in this case the U Castello association, which for decades now has succeeded in the magical feat of bringing us all together to give us these magical evenings. Suffice it to say that my parents took their first steps, first words and first dances together on the smooth, festively decorated slate squares where young people of their age used to meet in the evenings for dancing and chatting… not movida and discos!

Generally speaking, each town proposes an annual event in the summer (normally on Saturdays, but possibly also an entire weekend) where during dinner a typical dish is served, among the many culinary proposals, which will then give its name to the evening (e.g.: the festival of fried bread). We, in Borgomaro, propose two dates… because we know how to cook so well that we didn’t want you to miss anything! Would you like to know what the specialities are?

I can see you scratching your tummies with your mouths watering!

First of all, these are dinners en plein air: long wooden benches, large tables, farmer’s wine (as Elena likes to call it) and off to crowd the carruggi. Very good, very spartan, but that’s how we like it!

The ticket office opens at 19:00/19:30 and the plan is based on a single rule: grab the first seats! Don’t delay, scramble through the crowd as if that plate of kebabs was the last one left on the face of the earth. Once you’ve got your tickets at the till, if you are lucky enough to have a partner by your side, send him or her straight to the queue for the evening’s main course, or that steaming juicy portion of fresh pasta will alas remain just a memory.

In the meantime it’s time to take care of the liquids: look for the BAR till and stock up on what you need, then it’s time to find a vacant spot where you can settle in to wait for the glorious return of your partner holding the tray of delicacies.

All right, all right, you want to know what we eat and especially when we eat. Here are the dates, I’ll see you there and whoever doesn’t come is a belinone!

Last weekend in May: her majesty the reina paella (remember what I told you about scoffing like it was the last dish in the world? Here, keep that in mind)

Early or mid-July weekend: take note, you will have the opportunity to taste President Mino’s inimitable Saracen mussels, which for years now have been making people flock to our square from all over. A word of advice? Pick up some bread and don’t forget to make the very Italian scarpetta in the cooking sauce!

And for those who don’t like any of these three dishes? Fear not: rabbit Ligurian style, the famous minestrone, ratatuia, condiglione, gorgonzola and quintals of grilled meat await you!

What to see in Borgomaro

What to see in Borgomaro

With this article, we want to invite you to get to know our town so you can spend your holiday in the real Liguria by diving into the relaxed, slow typical life of a small village where everyone knows each other.

Immersed in the greenery and tranquillity of the western Ligurian hinterland, Borgomaro is a delightful medieval village located in the centre of the Maro Valley and a few kilometres from the Ligurian Sea.

Inhabited by just over 800 residents, our town has a unique urban layout that is not found in any other nearby village: its structure consists of a precise orthogonal grid, with houses arranged in a checkerboard pattern.
That’s why today, walking through its narrow streets, you can still breathe a typical medieval atmosphere.

What to see in Borgomaro?

Inside the town, there are several noteworthy buildings, some of which are little known but no less interesting and undoubtedly deserve to be discovered: the heart of Borgomaro is Piazza Felice Cascione, overlooked by the parish church dedicated to Sant’Antonio Abate.
The current Baroque appearance is due to a seventeenth century reconstruction while the naoclassical facade dates back to the nineteenth century. Inside the church, you can admire valuable works of art, including the eighteenth century painting of the Madonna with Child and the Saints Joseph, Antonio da Padova, Carlo Borromeo and Francesco Saverio.

Also not to be missed is the Pieve (a medieval rural church) dei Santi Nazario e Celso, of early Christian origin but completely rebuilt at the end of the fifteenth century.
The building features a portal carved in black stone and houses various works of art including the Polyptych of the Encounter with Veronica by Raffaello De Rossi, one of the most important masterpieces in Liguria.

In town, there are numerous other religious buildings, among which the Oratory of Sant’Anna of clear Baroque inspiration, the Oratory of the Madonna del Ponte and that of San Giuseppe are noteworthy from a historical and architectural point of view.

As examples of civil architecture, several buildings still testify to the wealth of the past, including the Palazzo Cassio Amelio, built in the nineteenth century and today the seat of the Municipality, inside which there are statues by the sculptor Luigi Guacci and frescoes by Vittorio Piccardi; the marvellous Palazzo Doria, dating back to the sixteenth century; Palazzo De Mora, with its elegant mullioned windows and beautiful black stone portal; and the Palazzo Guglieri, dating back to the seventeenth century.

Also of considerable interest is the Casa del Cavaliere Giacomo Amey, an ancient residence recently restored, whose original layout, probably dating back to the fifteenth century, is an example of Genoese Renaissance canons.
As for the military architecture, in Borgomaro is possible to admire the ruins of the Castello del Maro, which was destroyed in battle, and the Castello di Conio, located in the highest part of the hamlet with the same name, where exhibitions and events are hosted.

These are just some of the things to see because in Borgomaro there is something magical to discover around every corner.

Now you just need to pack your bags and set off to discover Borgomaro: we at Relais del Maro will be here, ready to welcome you and make you feel at home during your magnificent stay!

“Ting-a-ling” the bells ring…the Relais del Maro has reopened its doors!

“Ting-a-ling” the bells ring…the Relais del Maro has reopened its doors!

It is eight o’clock in the morning of a somewhat different 15th June and the bells of our church, here in Borgomaro, ring calmly. The grand reopening scheduled for the 2020 season was long in coming: nonetheless, we opened the doors of the Relais with great enthusiasm!

Of course, as you may imagine the already slow life of our town has been put to the test. In Borgomaro, as the good rural people we are, every year we await the arrival of spring with joy and hope: the fields bloom, the hills turn green, the long-awaited period of town festivals begins and finally…finally the Relais reopens! This time we knew it was going to be different.

Despite all this, can I tell you something? Unlike in the city, where silence and emptiness can be a scary echo, here in the countryside the rumble of the flowing river, the cockcrow and the laughter of the children in the square are the same as always.
Can we really say that something has changed? Yes, our smile will most often remain hidden by a mask. Yet it as well will be the same as always. And isn’t that what really matters?

Isn’t that amazing in the first place that the hens continued to lay eggs, the artichokes were born, as usual, the earth froze, then the rain came, that the sun always peeks east, the bed of the river has dried up to be filled again, that life has continued before our eyes, unaware? On behalf of those who live in the countryside, I can tell you that it was surprising to see how, despite mankind and all that derives from it, the earth has continued its indifferent course.
Perhaps when you are used to relying on the randomness and unpredictability of nature, because you are surrounded by it, then it automatically becomes easier to accept a negative variation on the course of things. The man who, bent under the September sun, crouches to collect the grapes devastated by the hail, deep inside already knows that it will be a ruined vintage, and already works for the next: we cannot afford the luxury of crying or complain, in the countryside.

And this is exactly what all those who, like us, did not want to pity themselves did: from Brigitte and Laura who still work assiduously at Ca’ Sottane to be every week in the square to guarantee the KM 0 market, to the mayor of Chiusavecchia, Luca Vassallo, who invested in “green” tourism by bringing his small town directly under the limelight, to Milena and Marco who as soon as possible reopened the doors of their restaurants without wondering if it was worth it, to Cristina and Adriano who never lost love for their job, despite everything; and all the others who, like the man bent under the September sun, know that this is simply the game of life.

So did we too. We have adapted, we got organized, we did our best and now we are looking forward to welcoming you and let you know that we are here, and we have never stopped believing, not even for a moment. What can we add? Well, I would say that…the only missing thing is you!

Welcome back, we will be waiting for you as every year at our Relais.

The Relais lands on the small screen thanks to the German documentary series Grenzenlos | THE VIDEO

The Relais lands on the small screen thanks to the German documentary series Grenzenlos | THE VIDEO

I have to admit it: I’ve always dreamed of being an actress!
Can you imagine my face last year, when they officially informed us that the famous German broadcaster SAT1 would shoot an episode of its acclaimed “GRENZENLOS – die Welt entdecken” program right in our beloved Liguria? If you can’t imagine mine, I’m sure you will be able to imagine Elena’s as soon as she realized that she would be the only one to appear on video!
The days ahead of preparation were intense, our Elena obviously proposed to sponsor and support step by step the German troupe, led by the tireless author Timo Zorn, in every step of the recording, helping them to coordinate with anyone who ended up being part of the project.

The result, needless to say, was exciting: a new Liguria, which as by tradition can count on the diligent and industrious desire of those who never give up, those who really believe in the potential of their land.

From the ingenious monorail between the vineyards at Cinque Terre to another incredible ancient mechanical product such as the cableway between Rapallo and Montallegro, passing through the carruggi of Genoa and their scent of freshly baked focaccia, we arrive at the wonderful underwater farm-garden Nemo’s Garden and then up, we finally reach the hinterland, going to visit the princess Nina in the principality of Seborga or why not Domenico Romeo in his historic pipe shop in the fascinating and mysterious Taggia… of course, arriving finally to us at the Relais!
But now let’s cut the chatter, what’s the use of so many words when you can admire it with your own eyes?
Video is here.

Discover now Borgomaro’s hidden treasures with the new map!

Discover now Borgomaro’s hidden treasures with the new map!

What treasures are hidden in the streets of Borgomaro? Find out with the izi.TRAVEL app!
It is funny to think back to how many times customers have asked me for a map of Borgomaro! How do you explain it to those who are not local, that here to find the way we look at the river, the mountains and nothing else?

When a town does not reach the twenty-five square kilometres of surface, it does not need maps: with just the classic “two steps after lunch” from the welcome sign, you quickly reach the end of the country.
Of course, this is what we all thought. In reality, for those who know how to find them, in Borgomaro there is a myriad of corners where you can stop to admire small jewels of our past. These corners are from time to time so remote and almost forgotten that to find them there would be the need for a real treasure hunt, as well as a fearless spirit of adventure.

What about you? Are you a true explorer? Well, what are you waiting for? From today, thanks to the LiguriaWOW project created by the volunteers of the non-profit associations WePesto and Ponente Experience, you can immerse yourself in the discovery of our small town simply by downloading the very comfortable izi.TRAVEL smartphone application!

Start exploring the surroundings now and have fun discovering places that only few know about: magical and solitary places such as the Oratory of Sant’Anna, that of the Madonna del Ponte and San Giuseppe, or even the Casa del Cavaliere, the Palazzo Doria and the unmissable Convent of San Nazario!

All you need to do is start the app, open the door and enjoy the sun which, peeking through our olive trees, will accompany you on this short but unique journey. Here the link to download app.

And then three, two, one…ready, go on the hunt!