The gold of Lemme Valley
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Lemme Valley, bordered by Piedmont and Liguria, offers walks, hikes, and traditional products yet to be discovered by many tourists. This itinerary departs from Mornese and meets the lakes where the most precious metal of all was once extracted - gold.
Visualizza L’oro della Val di Lemme in una mappa di dimensioni maggiori
Mornese is a small town between Gavi and Ovada, going towards the Ligurian Apennines. It is settled in the center of a hill cut through by two tributaries of the Gorzente River. Mornese is part of the Lemme Valley, characterized by a ripple of hills and changing green mountains, brilliant one moment and gloomy the next, traced by streams and dotted with villages and their inhabitants. Here, time stands still.
Mornese’s position, surrounded by the mountains as it is, probably gives origins to its name, which may derive from Latin mulio for “driver,” or mulattiera in Italian, “mule track.” The roads of lower Piedmont pass through Mornese and travel on towards Genova; Mornese was an important junction between the Padana Plains and the Ligurian coast.
The small town offers many tidbits of history. Mornese is the birthplace of St. Maria Mazzarello, who founded the congregation of Daughters of Maria together with St. Giovanni Bosco. Not far from the center is Valponasca, the farmstead where Maria Mazzarello passed her childhood and adolescence. The farmstead, today the dwelling of her ninth paternal grandfather, is a haven of reflection and prayer. Its original plan was preserved in the recent reconstruction.
From here, head towards the pine forest of Mornese, crisscrossed with many biking and walking paths. Wander through the pines and spruce and enjoy a grilled lunch in the picnic area or a pause in the shelter.
The waters from the Lemme and Gorzente Rivers that course through the valley follow the course. Between the provinces of Genova and Alessandria are two man made lakes in Lavagnina, which spill out to the communities of Casaleggio Boiro, Mornese, and Bosio. Departing from Gavi, take the course towards the natural park Capanne di Marcarolo, definitely worth a visit for hikers, campers, and mountain bikers. Inside the park is an Ecomuseum that, other than its displays, offers guided itineraries and educational exhibits.
Not to miss, especially if interested in history, is the Sacrario della Benedicta with its school of Peace. In close proximity to Capanna di Marcarolo are footpaths – about one and half hours of walking – towards the Lavagnina lakes that extend to the communities Casaleggio Bioro, Mornese, and Bosio. Paths “Superiore” and the other “Inferiore” are famous because of gold extraction from their waters during the 19th century. Right in Lavagnina in 1850, a metallurgy factory was constructed that formed the gold filaments into ingots. When the miners were under the control of Lyon, all activity came to a halt. Who knows if these icy waters still hold some gold nuggets?