Archaeological park of Orco Feglino
Comune di Orco Feglino: piazza Municipio, 3 - Orco Feglino (SV)
Telefono: 019 69 90 10
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Visit the Orco Feglino castle; it’s an experience immersed in nature that is still wild, a walk in an archaeological park in which step after step, thanks to the Liguria Heritage audio-guide, you will hear the story of a fortified military base. Only the ruins of the tower exist today, but they have a wonderful story to tell!

A castle in uncontaminated nature

Entering the archaeological park that begins at the foot of the cliff in which Orco Feglino castle is nestled, you climb up a landscape that presents characteristic natural species that here take root and thrive. Looking around you can see only woods and mountains, almost no element of the passage of humans, a vision that we are now used to.

Along our route the first remains we meet are those of the San Lorenzino Oratory, a building of cult with only one remaining room with a rectangular floor and a cross apse at its extremity.
This 16th century structure is correlated with the church on the hilltop, the Church of San Lorenzino. Its origins are connected to its role as church of Castrana, positioned close by the remains of the tower. The church is the result of numerous makeovers, indeed the structure as we see it now with its rectangular room and the particular polyform apse is from the 15th century, just like the frescoes inside it. There are also elements from previous periods, such as the bell tower with two mullioned windows on different levels, probably from the 13th century.

Take a few minutes more before continuing your visit and go to the rear of the church on the bell tower side: from here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Cornei Valley in all its uncontaminated splendour.
The layout of buildings of cult obliges us to go on a journey that runs in reverse to the history of the castrum, which can be reached from a slightly rising track that begins at the side of the church.

By visiting the San Lorenzino archaeological park you can see for yourself, maybe helped by a little imagination, the ruins of an antique fortified castrum, the origins of which correspond with the historical phase of encastellation. In Orco therefore you will discover a piece of Ligurian history that is fundamental for understanding the development of numerous towns in the Savona hinterland. Listen to the audioguide 1!

The Castle in the Middle Ages

We begin by presenting a personality: Enrico I Del Carretto, a person who is nominated in practically all the guides on the towns and villages in Savona. Unfortunately they do not stop on his importance in reorganising the Finale area from the 12th century onwards, thanks also to his heirs.
His nickname, “il Guercio” (Cross-eyed), is a term that usually does not inspire anything positive, but in reality the word “guercius” represents the Latinisation of the German term “Werth” which means “Worthy”. This shows how precious he was as an ally to Frederick I Barbarossa in the fight against town growth, and for which he was an important mediator of the Peace of Constance.
Proof of this close relationship between the Emperor and the first Finale marquis is an imperial document dated 10th June 1162 that was drawn up in Pavia. In it, Frederick I, considering him a loyal ally, grants Enrico il Guercio power over the territory of father Bonifacio del Vasto in the Savona march, and in particular Guiliani, Segni, Noli and Pertice and Pie and Orche castles in its far western area. In addition, he also grants Enrico the “legality” to build castles and towers to his own advantage and that of his heirs, and also to destroy castles and towers that were built against his will
. The consequences of this document are critical for reorganizing the Finale area starting from the 12th century.

The castrum of Orco, the only one in the area inside the encastellation that occurred between the 10th and 12th centuries, was a fortified complex without surrounding wall, an element that can be justified by its position on a rocky cliff, and culminating in a large square-floored tower built with a very thick wall and with the door higher up than usual. It seems that there was a building near it and the castrum cistern was under the earthwork that was its /> Differently from the majority of castra, created for defence and control of the roads involved in business, its position on the connecting road between the hinterland and the coastland, and also in a territory managed by a single lineage, makes us think that this castrum was not for defensive purposes. We believe that it was the reference point in an area which, from the 12th century, had developed following the principles of Court economy, strong from the exploitation of specialised agriculture and above all the use of a hydraulic driving force, an element favoured by the River Sciusa in its geographic position and the Conca di Feglino, the basin of the Aquila river.

The Orco military base was operative from the end of the 12th century to the 15th century, a period in which documents mention it first as a castrum, then as a curia, locus et fundus, and finally as a castrum et campagna. All this occurred in precisely one century, from 1162 to 1268, as if to indicate that the military base was tied to and organised even the activities in the territories around it. In the 13th century the castle again takes on a very important role inside the Marquisate of Finale which, together with Castel Gavone Final Borgu, acted as its second cornerstone. Unfortunately, as the life of Orco was tightly connected to the events of Finale, its importance decreased until the castrum was abandoned in the 15th century, when even the slow decline of its founding lineage began.

Now an isolated town in the Finale hinterland, but before one of the first cornerstone military bases of the Marquisate of Finale. Listen to the audioguide 2 to discover the role intended by the Marquises Del Carretto for this settlement that is lost in nature.

The intervention

As part of the project designed to set up the Environmental System of Rock Climbing Cliff Faces in Orco Feglino, a well-equipped hiking trail has recently been created. It follows the ancient road that connects the area of Monte Cucco to that of Boragni, crossing the high ground of San Lorenzino, where the same project envisaged the creation of an Archaeological Park.

However, once the improvements necessary to ensure access to this attraction were finished, they proved to be incomplete and placards and directions were also lacking.
The main factors that have led to the deterioration of the Archaeological Park are tied to its lack of visitors, currently limited to the occasional hiker, as access is still difficult. This also makes maintenance work harder as this involves, for a start, cutting back weeds and protecting the site from the erosion that damages sections of the footpath leading to the site.

The renovation work planned as part of the Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of Por Fesr 2007-2013) envisages the creation of an open space used as a parking area along the footpath, an area easily be reached by car which will therefore be accessible to users, even those with mobility problems.

The project intends to create a meeting point and trailhead for hikes to the nearby Archaeological Park, equipped with placards illustrating the trails and the features of the surrounding countryside and equipped with suitable lighting.

There are also plans to repair and improve the section of the trail that leads from the parking area to the Castrum and to produce an information booklet promoting the Archaeological Park and a guide illustrating the history and highlights of the park and the Environmental System of Rock Climbing Cliff Faces in Orco Feglino to which it belongs.

Nota: Liguria Heritage freely offers services and technological tools but accepts no responsibility for entrance fees to the sites nor their direct management. Please refer to the individuals owners and managers regarding the implementation or changes to entry times, conditions of use and accessibility of the various sites.