Strategically positioned at the head of the Mardenzo valley with the confluence of, where the river runs into the river Nerva , with long hinterlands stretching up both valleys. A settlement here since the first breath of time.
Close to the sea, Isolabona has been an important fortified position, from ancient times to the times of the early struggles between Genoa and Amalfi.
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In the 12th Century, to keep control of these fiercely independent people the confederacy of Genoa and Pisa embraced a system of communale or commune. These communes having a history of a large amount of autonomy. This independence of spirit and living is still reflected in the atmosphere of each of these villages/communes.
No 8 via Orsini. The Orsini family is an Italian noble family; it was one of the most influential princely families in medieval Italy and renaissance Rome. Members of the Orsini family include popes Celestine III (1191–1198), Nicholas III (1277–1280), Many cardinals including service with the infamous Borgias, this leading to an untimely end.
The early castle over Isolabona, probably 12th or 13th century, has changed hands many times. The area was attacked in 1744 in the war of Austrian succession.. In 1744 the Italian war became serious. Prior to the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) Spain and Austria had been ruled by the same (Habsburg) royal house. Consequently, the foreign policies of Austria and Spain in regards to Italy had a symmetry of interests and these interests were usually opposed to the interests of Bourbon controlled France.
The campaign in Italy in 1745 was also no mere war of posts. The Convention of Turin of February 1742, which established a provisional relationship between Austria and Piedmont-Sardinia had caused some consternation in the Republic of Genoa. However, when this provisional relationship was given a more durable and reliable character in the signing of the Treaty of Worms (1743)signed on 13 September 1743, the government of Genoa became fearful. This fear of diplomatic isolation had caused the Genoese Republic to abandon its neutrality in the war and join the Bourbon cause. Consequently, the Genoese Republic signed a secret treaty with the Bourbon allies of France, Spain and Naples. On 26 June 1745, Genoa declared war on Piedmont-Sardinia. The complication of Italian history and the wash of power up and down the valleys over the centuries, has created a strongly independent people who are referred to by those on the coastal strip as "the valee".
In more recent times the hills around were occupied by the partisans and the strategically critical Isolabona was occupied by the German army. Still now the remains of a bombed bridge being just visible in the river. The mountainous hinterland of this region, rising up to the buttresses of the Ligurian Alps, provided a natural theatre for armed resistance, which for twenty long months was made possible by the support of the rural population who, alongside the partisans, paid a high price in terms of deprivation and Nazi-Fascist reprisals; the latter resulted in the loss of numerous lives, including 650 civilians, as well as deportations and the destruction of entire villages. . The Free Republic of Pigna in Val Nervia was proclaimed, under its own democratic rules and with the participation of the entire population, it remained in existence from 29 August to 8 October 1944 when, defended by the units led by Commanding officer “Vitò”, it was defeated after bitter fighting during the major round-up that came to a tragic conclusion at Upega on 17 October.
The occupation of Isolabona by the regular German army is reported to have been well disciplined. Households were divided in their reaction. A field kitchen was setup in the arch by the bridge, food was given to the local population, some of which subsequently found its way to the partisans in the nearby hills. There was an atrocity by the Nazi's in reprisal to the death of a German soldier. A group of young Isolabona men were locked in the room over the butchers shop and subsequently shot on the road to Pigna.
On 4 October a huge German force attacked the Republic of Pigna because it was a dangerous example that could not be tolerated. The partisans of the 5th Brigade of Vitò repulsed the attack after a few hours of bitter fighting. The next day Pigna was heavily bombarded until late afternoon by the batteries at Isolabona. The major battle that followed was drawn out until 8 October when, after a strenuous resistance and having inflicted heavy losses on the enemy, the partisans were forced to retreat from the village along a line from Carmo Langan to Cima Marta. This marked the start of the strategic retreat to Piedmont.
The same day the “garibaldini” from the 1 st Brigade of Silvio Bonfante “Cion” launched the “battle of the bridges” in Valle Arroscia in order to cut the lines of communications used by the dangerous German forces: the bridge at Ranzo was destroyed and a bitter struggle took place at the bridge in Vassalico which the Germans tried to reopen. The action was successful but the Commanding officer “Cion” suffered a serious leg injury during the clash and had to be carried to safety by his companions who retreated towards Piaggia.
A visit to Isolabona is a step back in time, a time when there was a close connection to the soil. The labyrinthine medieval passages delight the sense of exploration, and the courtyards splashed in sunlight, the joyful feeling of discovery. Eggs from the local free range chickens. Liguria is known for its excellent quality olives, local food stores & grocery stores in the village. Isolabona known as the town of Oil. It is usual to find the connection between bars and restaurants and their very own Olive trees serving their own Olive Oil. In the shops buy the best award winning local Oil. Several varieties of pastries and cakes, both sweet and savoury, or vegetables directly from local gardens of the village. Post office, chemist, butcher, seamstress & hairdresser. The two grocery stores are superb, to call them delicatessen makes them seem contrived and sound French. This is the best of Italy. The gourmet's treasure trove. In mushroom season watch the local cognoscenti disappear into the woods with their large wicker baskets. Be sure to book a table in the village that night.
The historical and close tie to the ground is still very evident in and around Isolabona. The previous owner of No 8 via Orsini would leave the village every Monday to spend the week at the farm in the family hills, to return on Friday for a weekend in the village. There is a culture for many families to make their own Olive Oil from their own trees.
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Isolabona not only sharing a geographical location with Dolce Aqua and Apricale, but also sharing a dialect, most noticeable in the use of a long S. The municipal comunicale of the area, pro-active in the aesthetic and encouragement of the locale.