Pontegiacomo, a story from other times

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Borzone Val Cicana San Siro Foce Old farmhouse in Val Cicana Pontegiacomo The house where Gaetano and Clotilde lived The chestnut dryer The church of Pontegiacomo

The Mogliana Valley (Val Mogliana) is a short branch of the Sturla Valley, ending at the Bocco Pass, at the border between the province of Genoa (in Liguria) and that of Parma (in Emilia). From Carasco, near Chiavari, one follows state road 586, heading to Aveto Valley, as far as Borgonuovo Ligure. Then one turns right and starts to climb toward the Pass.
Perhaps I would never have known Pontegiacomo, and St. Siro Foce , or perhaps they would have remained rather anonymous villages, as many others, for me, had I not received a short mail message from a New Jersey lady, some months ago. Mary asked me, if I had the opportunity, to take some pictures, and send them to her, of the place, and the house, where her husband's grandfather, Gaetano Tiene of Pontegiacomo, had lived. Gaetano's story , as that of many emigrants, is rather complicated, but the indications of Marys were very accurate. Gaetano Tiene died in Pontegiacomo in 1934 and he was buried in the small cemetery of St. Siro Foce, located opposite to the church, from which it can be seen. We were rather amazed that the few people we met there knew very well about him, a man dead since 70 years and who did not leave direct heirs in the country; neither were the people particularly surprised of our questions. The house in Pontegiacomo where Gaetano lived in his last years displays the characteristic plant of XIX / XX century farmhouses, where rather well-off farmers used to live. It has a rectangular plant and exploits the slant with two independent entrances: a lower one, in the front, to the the stall and wine cellar and a upper one in the back, to the chestnut dryer (which later on became the kitchen), and to the upper floors. This house, hardly hiding its ceaseless deterioration, seems doomed to follow the same destiny of this countryside, first deserted by emigrants who seldom returned, and finally abandoned by the others to follow the call of the urban sprawl.

All Sturla valley, with its branches, is rich of pretty and interesting corners, such as the ancient abbey of Borzone and the artificial basins of Giacopiane. Ample and green, the nearby Cicana Valley culminates with the wide amphitheater formed by the Ramaceto Mountain.