History, tales & lores of Val Steria

 

Origin of the toponyms Cervo, Steria and Faraldi

The existence of the toponym “Cervo” was recorded for the first time in 1123, in a document discovered 150 years ago in the diocesan catalogue of Albenga. In the document there was a mention to the Valley of Cervo.

The toponym was then quite frequently recorded in later maps with the form of “Cervus” (years 1172, 1190, 1200, 1241, 1251, etc.) and with the more popular variation “Servus” (years 1169, 1192, 1196, 1199, 1204, 1251, etc.) closer to the common way of speaking.

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Olive oil industry in the 17th Century

“…Estimations from 1643 finally provide precise information also about the consistency of olive oil mills in the valley. A few decades earlier however, it is already possible to find indications about the Faraldi’s olive oil business. In their area, 38 mills result active during the winter season of 1577-78: 13 located in Villa, 8 in Riva, 14 in Tovo, 3 in Tovetto and none in Deglio. The olive oil mills from the lower valley were decisively more numerous. In 1612 a census in Cervo registered 105 mills. By 1643 the number has risen only to 109…”

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The reconstructed rural landscape. Dry stone walls and “caselle”

“…the technique of the dry stone has been correctly employed also in local rural constructions of  more modest dimensions, such as stables and small storages. On the other hand, for more important buildings and houses, the best stones were employed to create the facades while the remaining ones were used for interiors. For such buildings, soil has been used as mortar and filling for interstices. Mortar was instead employed to secure the external joints. Such technique was able to concile the necessity of low-cost construction with a warranty of solidity and duration…”

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The natural environment

“… A peculiarity of our land, unanimously recognised and appreciated, is the healthy and temperate climate. Our weather is characterised by an exceptionally contained annual temperature range; such characteristics translate in mild winters, enjoyable springs and autumns, as well as dry summers, often refreshened by the soft breeze of the sea…”

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Ancient nature and landscape

“… in ancient times the Cervo valley was covered by a thick forest whose extension was way larger than its orographic borders. It is possible to find unmistakable testimonies, even if sporadic and indirect, of the existence of such forest from the Pre-Romanic Era to the early Middle Ages…”

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To slump at noon thought-sick and pale

under the scorching garden wall,
to hear a snake scrape past, the blackbirds creak
in the dry thorn thicket, the brushwood brake.

Between tufts of vetch, in the cracks of the ground
to spy out the ants’ long lines of march;
now they reach the top of a crumb-sized mound,
the lines break, they stumble into a ditch.

To observe between the leaves the pulse
beneath the sea’s scaly skin,
while from the dry cliffs the cicada calls
like a knife on the grinder’s stone.

And going into the sun’s blaze
once more, to feel, with sad surprise
how all life and its battles
is in this walk alongside a wall
topped with sharp bits of glass from broken bottles.

Eugenio Montale

Meriggiare pallido e assorto. Ossi di seppia

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