History, culture and traditions

San Rufino’s Church, which is under the ecclesiastic jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Genoa, belongs to the Comune di Mongiardino Ligure (AL), in an area of the so called Oltregiogo, an historical region situated between the regions of Piedmont and Liguria. Oltregiogo also includes the places which once belonged to the Republic of Genoa and the confining Imperial Feuds, once governed by noble families of Genoa. Though Cerendero is administered by the Province of Alessandria, like all the Oltrogiogo areas it maintains the characteristic and peculiarities of Liguria, such as the dialects, the religiosity, the economy and the ethnicity. The Church is situated in an uncontaminated natural environment, in the mountain territory of High Borbera Valley, which obtained its name from the Borbera torrent that goes through the bottom of a long ridge, historically know for merging the Pianura Panada and the sea.

Chiesa dal Pascolo The High Valley formed itself in the in the Cretaceous-Palaeogene,93-96 millions of years ago. Some toponymy repertoires indicate that from the Iron age the valley was inhabited by tribes from Liguria (probably the Ligures Dectunini). High Valley was part of the municipium of Libarna (municipality of Libarna) and it became part of the Regio IX during the time of Augusts the Emperor.

The roman influence on the valley, which was determinant in terms of territorial organisation, is documented by both toponymy and the archaeological findings. During the barbaric invasions, Borbera Valley was joined to Odoacre’s territory and was later invaded by the Visigoths and by the Langobards. Thanks to the Benedictine Monks, churches, monasteries and abbeys started to appear. Other religious buildings were built thanks to the Monasteries of St. Colombano in Bobbio and St. Pietro in Ciel d’Oro of Pavia.

Sign posts are still present, indicating that there was a lot of communication between villages and that the area was split into numerous feuds, sometimes of modest dimension and under the control of institutions such as the papacy and the Empire.  From 1748 the Low Valley became part of the Regno di Sardegna (Sardinia’s Kingdom), whereas the High Valley which was part of the Repubblica di Genova (Genoa’s Republic) was controlled by the Adorno family, the Spina family, the Fieschi family and the Malaspina family. In 1859 the Borbera Valley became part of the Provincia di Alessandria in the region of Piedmont. A British military camp was set up from 1915 until 1921 in Arquata Scrivia, near the estuary of the Borbera torrent. During the 2nd World War, Nazi fascists and partisans fought in the areas of the High Valley until the Liberation in 1945.

The economy of the area consist of agriculture, livestock farming, small artisan businesses, forest and hydro electrical resources. The Valley also attracts tourists, with its beautiful landscapes and natural environment.

The dialect spoken in the area is that of Liguria, typical of Oltregiogo, with influences from the dialect spoken in Piedmont.

Various ancient buildings such as castles, palaces, monastic cells, sanctuaries and churches are found throughout the valley. They display the prestigious historical and architectonical local heritage. The small groups of building in the middle of the vegetation, alongside torrents, or next to mountain slopes have a rural style, not so different from that found in the Apennines area. The numerous villages in the area have a rich history have a distinctive folklore culture, however since they are not safeguarded, they to be lost.

Neve muroThanks to the geographic isolation in the area of Bolbera Valley (which shared the same tradition and culture), the customs and traditions of the four provinces (Genoa-Alessandria-Pavia-Piacenza) such as the ancient dances and music, are still part of today’s culture. The melodies are played with the flute (oboe and double reed), and the accordion, though until the 1930s, the müsa (an Apennine bagpipe) was played in place of the accordion. The melodies and songs were passed on from generation to generation orally, taught by the elderly with the help of the most talented dancers. The dances were all based on the “Four Provinces pace” were danced in pairs, in a circle and different choreographies. Old dances such as the piana, the giga a due and the giga a quattro, are still practiced today.

The various typical products of the region are hazelnuts, chestnuts, porcini mushrooms, fagiolane (a type of white bean), salamis, black and white truffle, Carla apples, Quarantina potatoes, honey, Timorasso ( a white wine grape variety), Montébore (a good quality cheese of ancient origins, made from cow and sheep milk, as well as the “Carne all’Erba” (grass-fed beef), which came about as a result of an acquired zootechnic method in rearing (still practised to this day) and the natural resources of the earth.


Below, some texts and articles related to the local history and culture.







Recensione Tacchella


Cartasegna 78





Recensione Cartasegna 78







Recensione Giardelli


Giardelli2 Recensione Giardelli 2














QuattroPagine, aprile 2010

QuattroPagine, giugno 2010



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