A paradise of waters in the lands of San Colombano


In the territory of the Municipality of Bettola, the Perino Waterfalls are a system composed of a series of water jumps formed by the course of the homonymous stream, which flows embedded in a narrow gorge, forming a dozen natural waterfalls along a path of only two kilometers.


Val Perino is delimited to the south by the top of Monte Liscaro, to the west by the ridge of the Capra, Poggio Alto and Concrena mountains, to the east by Monte Osero.


The waterfalls


The stream that gives rise to the waterfalls flows in the valleys of the Piacenza Apennines for a length of about 15 kilometers, before throwing itself into the Trebbia river . The territory it crosses is characterized by a landscape in which gentler, usually cultivated, and decidedly impervious traits alternate, giving life to a landscape that is always varied and interesting.


Encountering the deep limestone gorge present in the area, its waters fall forming several waterfalls, with jumps reaching 17 meters in height, placed at a height between 575 and 680 meters above sea level.


Waterfall number 1 is only a five minute walk from the farmhouse, and is indicated by a large wooden sign. Continuing towards the second waterfall, you will find the Riè Mill .


At the center of an imposing rock wall, which digs at the base at the point of fall of the jet, Waterfall number 2 is decidedly impressive, and ensures a spectacle of incomparable beauty, also guaranteed by the possibility of descending to its base thanks to a staircase wooden. It is a favorite destination for photographers throughout the year, but in the winter, when it freezes it turns into an unimaginable natural monument.


Waterfall number 3 is also very beautiful, but you can observe it from afar, standing on the belvedere equipped with a bench, which is also the best location to enjoy this show. The jump is divided into three distinct parts.


Continuing the route, along the path that climbs through the trees, you will skirt the stream, which opens into a series of delightful lakes. This area is very suggestive, and stands out for the white stones lapped by the water. Following the indications you reach the wonderful waterfall number 4 .


From this point the path continues towards Cascade number 5 , which with its 17 meters is the highest in the group. For this reason it is also called Upper Cascade. A trail path through the lawn leads to the pond where the water falls after having touched a huge block of rock, stretched out into the void like a huge trampoline.


Waterfall number 6, on the other hand, comes out of a gray rock pierced by the incessant work of the water, and offers another incredible spectacle.


Finally, waterfall number 7 suddenly appears on the path, and is easily accessible by going down to the base through the rocks. After passing the last waterfall, it is possible to continue the route, returning to the starting point.


The Rié Mill


Over the centuries, the waterfalls were used to feed a series of mills intended for grinding cereals. Their wheels were activated by the movement of the water, which was channeled into special deviations. We have received little information about these constructions.


The best known is today the Riè Mill , of which the remains are still visible. This mill stood on the eastern bank of the stream, and was made up of two distinct blocks. The upstream construction was that of the oldest building, dating back to before the 19th century, while the one further downstream was the one erected during the 19th century.


The environments developed on two different levels. The lower part housed the machinery for grinding grain and cereals, the upper part was used as a miller's accommodation. The oldest part was built with dry stone blocks, while bricks were used in the new one, and in a further structure, simply woven wood was used. The roof was made of wooden beams covered with stone slabs.


Today only the machinery of the most recent mill remains, which includes the two stone grinding wheels, the pin, the external wheel and the water outflow channel. Of the oldest mill, on the other hand, only the wheel pin and the seat of the wheel's water supply tank are visible.


In recent times, the Riè Mill, with the surrounding area, has been indicated as a site of community interest and cultural interest due to its historical, architectural and production relevance. A recognition that earned him a conservative restoration, with an intervention on the stone slab roof and on the external wheel.


Other places nearby: Perino and Bettola


The small center of Perino , a point of reference for those who want to reach the falls, was originally home to a mill and a tavern. Its building expansion dates back only to 1890, when the first state road was built. The Church of San Luigi Gonzaga dates back to 1895, with its black and white stone facade and terracotta decorations, which today houses a cultural center. It is a fraction of the Municipality of Coli.


Let's move now to Bettola , another noteworthy location. In the territory there were, in the Lombard period, the monks of the Abbey of San Colombano in Bobbio, with the possession of the Court of Calenzano , and the Pieve di Revigozzo , the church dating back to the VII - VIII century. The Nure stream crosses the town, dividing it into two districts: San Giovanni and San Bernardino. The historic core of the village developed from the mid-15th century as a resting place along the commercial road between Piacenza and Genoa, and its name derives directly from the presence of a rest stop.


An apparition of the Madonna to a shepherd boy near an oak tree in its surroundings gave birth to a heartfelt popular cult, with the construction of a Sanctuary, which went into ruins and was replaced by a chapel. Currently the oak and the statue of the Madonna are kept in the new Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine della Quercia , in the main square of the village.


According to some sources, then, Christopher Columbus was originally from Bettola, and a statue dedicated to him is also present in the center of the town square, while in the hamlet of Pradello there is a medieval tower called "Torre Colombo", which would have been the home of the parents of the famous navigator, now hosting a museum dedicated to him. Later, with the Nicelli family, Bettola and its territory saw the rise of numerous fortifications, in most cases represented by tower houses.



How to get


From Piacenza you reach Perino, and from here you follow the signs. You can reach the waterfalls on foot, following the 7 km long path that follows the Perino gorge, starting from Perino and reaching Calenzano , a hamlet of Bettola , thanks to an itinerary with CAI signs and easy to follow.


Here, on the opposite side, the so-called Sphinx of Val Trebbia stands out, the mountain whose profile vaguely resembles a sphinx, and at its feet the houses of the village of Aglio. Along the way there are benches and parapets. The waterfalls are also equipped to be climbed as via ferrata.


In the vicinity of Calenzano, isolated on a promontory, the beautiful Church of San Lorenzo martire is visible, with an imposing bell tower, the year of which is not known. The church, whose first information dates back to the 16th century, was initially characterized by a Greek cross plan, but today its structure is a Latin cross.


The exposed stone facade is hut-shaped, with pillars at full height corners. At the center opens the portal with semi-sandstone columns, with a crown consisting of a lunette with painted majolica, and a bas-relief with the depiction of the martyrdom of San Lorenzo. At the center, however, in the upper part of the facade, there is a circular rose window. Rectangular windows open on the lateral fronts, and on the back, in the Presbytery.


From here you take the small path that reaches a farm, and then a dirt road that leads to the falls. Continuing we come to the signaling of the first waterfall. However, given the proximity to the Passo del Cerro, the pass that connects Val Trebbia with Val Nure, it is possible to reach the waterfalls also from the other side.


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