Here I am to write my second blog post in English in collaboration with #Explorerkid (click here to read the first one about our trip to Ljubljana).
Today let’s discover a river valley in Northern Italy known also as the Italian Caribbean, off the main tourist routes. Bobbio and Val Trebbia are one of my favorite spot for a day trip in all season and I am loving it even more with a kid. Here you have 7 reasons why you should think to do a little detour to visit them: when relatives or friends come to Piacenza, I always suggest we visit Bobbio altogether.
- Bobbio is only 40-minute drive from Piacenza, but you can easily arrive from Milan. I would anyway suggest that you spend at least one night either in Val Trebbia in summertime or in Piacenza during winter to combine this trip with visiting other authentic Italian villages and castles.
- It’s the gateway to the real River Valley. It is said Hemingway drove through the valley and wrote “Val Trebbia is the most beautiful valley on earth”. More you drive up in the Apennines more you feel the call of wilderness. The river is down there and you may have to walk on a trail for at least 15 minutes to get there. But then you are in a paradise and most probably during the week there will be only few people or nobody. Water is crystal-clean, the mountains are surrounding you and the only noise will be wind and water (and happy kids). Last summer I found a Dutch family of 5 with huge Ikea bags to organize a sort of day camping while the teens were doing rock diving.
- It’s a great place for family outdoor activities: in Bobbio you can find the classic playground, full of chestnuts in autumn; you can wander through cobblestoned alleys and porches; you can run up and down Ponte Gobbio, the Roman bridge and reach the river. Then it’s up to you (and the season) if you want only to throw rocks in the water or plunge your feet. For a real bath I would move to other “beaches”, but don’t imagine you can find sand.
- It’s an authentic historical town: from the Roman bridge to the Romanesque Cathedral, from the Monk’s Abbey named San Colombano to the Malaspaina Castle. In the summer the city is also well known for the Bobbio Film Festival, organized by Marco Bellocchio an Italian filmmaker born there in 1939.
- Borderland between three regions Emilia Romagna, Lombardia and Liguria, longing for the sea but looking back on the mountains and hills. Here you have the possibility to taste local cuisine with the different regional influences: focaccia and farinata typical from Liguria, dried porcini (a top quality sort of mushroom) picked up directly in the mountains (don’t do it yourself), homemade pasta… In Italy eating is a must, a travel in the travel.
- Bobbio is located on the hills, enough far away from the Pianura Padana to escape fog in autumn and winter or heat in the summer. The weather is not always perfect but for sure very enjoyable.
- Bobbio is not always perfect for a family trip but also for hike lovers or bikers. Here you can take the Abbot’s Way, a mountain variant of the Via Francigena, or you can have a stop with your bike/motorbike on your way to the seaside up on the Road 45.
OK for Kids – Where to eat and sleep
We spent one night at Agriturismo San Martino, when our little explorer was 11 months and we felt welcome and at home. The room was big with a cozy bed for our baby, and they warmed up milk or let us dine before other guests. In Bobbio or nearby locations you can find other B&B or guesthouses: please check in advance availability for summer weekends.
You have different options to eat out: the cheapest is to buy some focaccia and pizza or bread with Parma ham to make a sandwich, but my suggestion is to enjoy also a meal at the restaurant. We love Albergo Ristorante dei Cacciatori, near the Ponte Gobbo bridge. If you like mushroom and meat, don’t miss it. But also homemade pasta is a perfect choice. Familiar atmosphere, quick service and the possibility to eat out on the terrace are a plus.
A small note: I am not sure you will find a lot of people speaking English or other foreign languages but generally everybody would be helpful anyway.
So, are you already googling to find out more info to organize your trip?!! If you have any question, feel free to ask.