The Area

Passo Cappelletta Albareto
The chapel on Passo Cappelletta with view to Mt Gottero

Val Di Taro – The Taro Valley

Val Di Taro (or Valtaro for short) is the name given to the valley forming the upper part of the Taro River, a mountainous region rich in natural diversity, natural beauty and organic food.

Among Italians the Taro river is remembered most infamously as the site of the Battle at Fornovo Di Taro in 1495, at which troops from the Holy League were unable to stop a retreating French army from crossing the river, but the Taro Valley area has held important strategic significance throughout history.

The remnants of this can be seen not just in the many medieval strongholds, such as the castle of Compiano, but also the Via Tedeschi – a network of mountain roads built by German troops during WW2 . Running to the north of the Gothic Line between Pisa and Rimini, they form the basis of many of the glorious hiking trails that the area offers.

Geography

The spring of the Taro river is at Mt Penna (altitude 1,735  m) on the border of the Parma and Genoa provinces. This is just 30 km from the Ligurian Sea, but instead of taking the direct route west, the waters of the Taro run east, then north east, being joined by the Cena and other tributaries, before they reach the plains of the Po, where the Taro itself becomes a tributary of that mighty river on its way into the Adriatic Sea almost 300 km to the east.

Climate

The climate of the Taro valley is very similar to that of the Italian Alps, offering skiing and other snow sports in the winter, and an escape from the stifling heat throughout the Italian summer.

The Taro River near Gotra taken in April 2014

Borgotaro

BorgotaroThe principal town of the area is simply known as Borgotaro (“Taro Town”) or more formally by its full name Borgo Val Di Taro (“the town of the Taro valley”).

With just over 7000 residents it serves as an important market place for the other municipalities in the valley, including Compiano, Albareto and Tornolo. Aside from the regular street market (held on Mondays), the town has a historical centre with many shops, restaurants and other entertainment, including two cinemas.

St Antonino ChurchSights to see include some attractive churches, most notably St. Antonino (pictured right), which dates back to the 13th Century, as well as many finely stuccoed town houses that illustrate the wealth of the nobility and towns people.

Of the former castle little remains – ravaged by time and lack of use rather than warfare, all that can be seen today are some walls and a tower.

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