This was written with the intention that it will be used by current and future generations of Nevy descendents.
Nonno’s house is located about half way along route A15 between La Spezia and Parma in the northwest part of Italy. Take the A15 to the Berceto exit; go to the center of town. Look for SS523 towards Borgotaro. It’s a left turn in the center of town.
Continue on the SS523, which will go back under the Autostrada A15. It’s a winding road. Look for a sign on the left that indicates Bergotto/Corchia, turn left. The sign indicating this turn is about 7or 8 kilometers from Berceto. Proceed along this very narrow road for 2 kilometers. The road is lined in places with cement water ditches, so stay in the middle. Watch out for oncoming traffic.
After the sign for Bergotto, you will see a sign on the right indicating, “Case Baratta/ Case Martinelli”. Turn onto this road and go one half kilometer to a small wooden sign that says “I ronchi La Castagne”. If the sign is missing, you can identify the path by a spring located a few feet up hill. Park the car near the sign, out of the way of traffic.
The walk uphill is two kilometers. It’s not too difficult. Wear good shoes and old long pants. Climb over any washouts. Along the way you will pass the Viola Mulino (the Viola family’s mill). It’s abandoned and barely visible through the trees. It’s a large stone building. Continue uphill following the stone path.
You will come to a small brook. (This brook actually flows right past Nonno’s house, so if you can’t find the house following these directions, you can back track to this brook and try to find it by following the brook.) There’s a small barbed wire fence erected to keep the cows in, it’s not electrified. Cross the fence and the little stream. Continue uphill, you will come to a low stonewall leading to a chapel that overlooks Bergotto. It’s on the right.
After you’ve seen the view, follow the path along the low wall to a small open field on the right. Cross the field and you will come to a group of stone building that are attached together. These were shared by three families and have been abandoned since l950. Arnerio’s wife’s family, the Beltrami’s were one of the families who lived here. Cows live in them now. They roam freely and take shelter in the buildings. Their owner checks on them once a week. They seemed happy, but watch out for the cow pies!
To find the Nevi house, you must pass around behind these buildings, where you will find a small field. Continue uphill. Look for the remnants of a path at the upper end of the field. This will be the difficult part since everything is really overgrown. Nonno’s house is hard to see through the growth. It’s not far from the other buildings. It’s next to a brook. There are two buildings, the house and a barn. The barn was used to dry chestnuts as well as a place to shelter animals. The chestnuts were spread out on the rafters and dried by a slow burning fire built on the ground below.
If you decide to go into the house, you will have to remove a bar from the window next to the door. It comes out easily. Be very careful. The house is in bad condition and is ready to collapse in places. We went upstairs. I would take great caution in doing this, especially if you are heavy. The door to the house is locked now to keep the cows out, since the house is considered dangerous.
It’s possible to see a lot of the interior through the windows. The kitchen is on the right side of the door. Behind this room is another that served as a type of pantry. Its roof is missing in places. On the left side of the door is a room that served as a living room. There are remnants of a wooden trough that was used to sort chestnuts. There are two bedrooms upstairs. One has a ladder leading to the attic where Nonno slept. We didn’t venture into the room very far since the floorboards looked weak. We returned to our car by the same route, downhill.
To get to the restaurant, return to the main road and just continue straight ahead. Arnerio has four rooms over the restaurant. I would suggest that you stay in Berceto if you don’t speak Italian. I also suggest visiting the restaurant mid-week rather than the weekend, as we did. Make a reservation in advance. We paid for our meal on Saturday, but Arnerio wouldn’t allow us to pay for lunch on Sunday. He ate with us. His wife and Didier were busy setting up for dinner.
They don’t speak English so you may have to come prepared with a card that says: “Non parlo Italiano. Prego, scelga I piatti per noi”, or say “per me” if you’re alone. Since you are asking them to choose your meal, you should be prepared to eat and pay for whatever arrives. It was around $25 – $30 per person in 1998. They are fluent in French.
There is a wonderful small medieval village about 3 kilometers farther up the road, called Corchia. Don’t pass it up. It’s worth the visit and take film along. It’s very photogenic.
Restaurante Manubiola (Closed on Tuesdays)
Hotel in Berceto:
Albergo Ristorante “da Rino”
Via G. Marconi, 5
Berceto , (PR)
Tel: 011 39 0525 64306.
If you are calling from within Italy start with 0525.