The Beigua district - the largest nature protected area in Liguria - preserves the geological history of the region, jealously portrayed through rocky outcrops, mineralizations, fossil deposits, spectacular forms modelled ceaselessly due to the effects of exogenous agents. Due to the exceptional geological heritage present in the Beigua district, in March 2005 a special international commission of experts positively assessed the dossier presented by the Beigua Park Authorities, thus awarding the territory the status of European and Global Geopark under the aegis of UNESCO. In November 2015, the same area has been recognized as UNESCO site and included in the prestigious list of the UNESCO Global Geoparks.
The Beigua regional nature Park – UNESCO Global Geopark represents a district made up of ten municipalities (Arenzano, Campo Ligure, Cogoleto, Genoa, Masone, Rossiglione, Sassello, Stella, Tiglieto, and Varazze) involving two different provinces (Genoa and Savona).
In a territory full of contrasts such as Liguria, locked between the mountains and the sea, the Beigua regional nature Park – UNESCO Global Geopark is a true example of a region where, even over short stretches, you can find environments and landscapes so different from one another to amaze any unsuspecting visitors. It is a spectacular gallery formed of mountains facing out onto the sea where nature, history, culture, and ancient traditions become elements of extraordinary value and interest.
In order to take full advantage of the territory, a dense hiking network has been created which covers approximately 500 kilometres and enables us to admire and appreciate the region's environmental and historical/cultural beauty.
Twenty-six kilometres of mountainous ridges just a stone's throw from the Ligure Riviera, which encompass high-lying plains and precious humid zones, dense forests of beech-trees, oak, and chestnuts, steep cliffs and rocky outcrops, forests of Maritime Pine, and strips of Mediterranean vegetation: a mosaic of environments leading to the mountainous area of the Beigua district considered one of Liguria's richest areas in biodiversity.
The Beigua regional nature Park – UNESCO Global Geopark is characterized by a priceless patrimony of historical and cultural evidence, found throughout the territory or conserved in museums, narrating the evolution of the human settlements in the park area and the important trade routes that crossed through it between the coast and the Po valley. The district of the Beigua regional nature Park – UNESCO Global Geopark has always demonstrated a significant, influential, and reinsuring presence of man to protect the environmental resources present in this portion of Liguria, starting from the palaeoethnological finds which testify how the forests of the Beigua Park – UNESCO Global Geopark were already the haunts of hunters and shepherds back in prehistoric times. The area also plays a significant role as the crossroads of important trade routes between the coast and the Po valley, with the notable stimulus provided in the Valle dell'Orba by the settlement of Cistercian monks at the Tiglieto Abbey (established in 1120), as well as the traditional farming and forest management activities which defined the use of the territory in the last few centuries.
There are also particularly interesting varied production activities which have set the park's territory apart and which in some cases are the main attraction for tourists even today. The former include the paper industry, mainly concentrated in Arenzano's valleys (Cantarena and Lerone) and Cerusa Valley (Acquasanta); the ironworks, which saw its maximum development in Sassellese and the Stura and Orba valleys; the widespread glassworks, first of all in Valle Stura and then also Valle dell'Orba; the flourishing and characteristic filigree activity which turned Campo Ligure into an internationally-renowned artisan centre; not to mention production linked to forestation and wood processing (including the traditional crafts of lumberjack, sawyer, basket maker, and cooper).
With regard to typical agricultural and food production, on the other hand, we must mention the role of chestnut trees, with all of the dishes that derive from their abundant fruit. There is also great interest in the ancient tradition of Sassellese's confectionary industry, with the typical amaretti, now exported all over the world, and Sambuco's canestrelli. This framework is completed by a wide range of dairy products, the processing of bovine and ovine meat, and the coveted gathering and conservation of mushrooms, in addition to delicious honeys, precious environmental indicators of the park's valleys.