Zerba was also inhabited by Ligurian tribes who long opposed the conquest of Rome. A legend links its foundation to a group of Carthaginian deserters, who abandoned Hannibal’s army during the descent to these valleys, after the Battle of Trebbia.
As already mentioned in the section dedicated to Brass, this would be the reason for the similarity between some Tunisian toponyms and the Val Boreca (Chartago / Tartago; Zerba / Djerba or Zarzis; Suzzi / Sussie; Bogli / Bougie).
It is also said that the leader had to climb Mount Lesima to orient himself, so much so that an ancient mule track is still called “Hannibal’s Road”.
The history of this municipality, the smallest and highest in the province, does not differ from that of the neighboring countries. Zerba was also granted to the Malaspina family by Federico Barbarossa in 1164. In the 13th century the fiefdom became part of the Marquisate of Pregola, governed by a branch of the same family that settled in Val Staffora.
The ruins of the castle, in particular the keep, remain to witness this period.
During the 14th century Zerba passed to the Ducal Chamber which established the Pinotti family and, in 1386, the Pozzi family. The territory re-entered the Malaspina boundaries in 1404, and they exercised their power until the Napoleonic suppression of feudalism.
A dramatic episode devastated these lands during the Second World War, when, on an August evening, during a festival in the farmyard, a bomb killed 32 people.
In those days in Val Boreca several tons of wheat were threshed and a lot of cattle was raised. In the post-war period, depopulation began, so much so that today, in winter, five of the eleven villages in the Val Boreca are closed and the houses are mostly second homes, which the holiday makers and the villagers who emigrated for work reopen every summer.
Fortunately, some accommodation facilities have arisen that allow tourists to enjoy the pristine beauty of this valley, whose inhabitants await the establishment of the Val Boreca Park to guarantee a future for their land.
To be seen
It is undoubtedly the Val Boreca has all the numbers to be declared a “Park”, because the mountain landscape here is extraordinarily beautiful, covered by vegetation that generously gives colors in every season; the mountains, rich in clear waters, are covered with meadows high above the woods, while, below, there are cliffs and steep banks. Even the trail network is well preserved, a particular not negligible since tourism here feeds on trekkers.
It is a valley nestled between Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Liguria and Piedmont, with a rather mild climate despite the height at which it is located, as it is surrounded by high mountains that shelter it from cold winds.
Zerba and Vezimo lie on the southern flank of Mount Lesima (1724 m); on the opposite side there is the northern slope of Monte Alfeo (1650 m), Monte Carmo (1640 m) and Monte Cavalmurone (1670 m) to the west and Monte Chiappo (1700 m) to the north-west: among the highest mountains of the Piacenza Apennines, and give life to this valley which, although it is only about fifteen kilometers long, is exceptionally deep and spectacular.
Entering from the SS 45 you are between Monte Alfeo on the left and Monte Lesima on the right. The second is rounded and recognizable also by the state road 45 for the balloon that protects the radar placed on the top; the former has a more pointed peak and is only apparently more hostile: its summit – reachable from Tartago with a longer route or from the opposite side, starting from Bertone, with a shorter but decidedly more tiring walk – is in fact covered by a large lawn.
The excursion between the hamlets of the Valley has already been proposed in the section dedicated to Brass.
We can start with a stop in Pey to visit the peasant museum (open all August). We also find the mill, which together with that of Zerba, was renovated in 2003 with the contribution of the mountain community.
We then suggest a route that starts from Capannette di Pej, where there are tourist settlements.
In ten minutes, on the road, you will reach Capanne di Cosola (1445 m) and take the crossroads for Bogli / Artana.
After about two hundred meters, on the right, an uphill path starts that leads to the pastures and, therefore, to Monte Cavalmurone. You then walk along the ridge, enjoying a wonderful view of the Val Boreca and passing on the peaks of Monte Legnà, Poggio Riondino and Monte Carmo. From the latter you descend fairly quickly to Capanne di Carega (1,367 m) and, at this point, you are about 3 and a half hours away from the start. You leave the asphalt road that leads to Case del Romano: taking the path between beech woods and grasslands, you arrive at Monte Antola (1,598 m) on whose summit there is a private refuge not far from the cross.
This excursion, recommended by the Co