The Resort La Francesca of Italy is situated on a 15 hectars slope rich in trees and flowers typical of the Mediterranean regions, and faces the sea of the Cinque Terre (that you can reach in a few minutes by train) with its three beautiful little gulfs. The 55 houses and apartments – all overlooking the sea – are surrounded by a marvelous park and are the ideal place for a holiday immersed in nature and far from constraint.
An enchanting and wild nature and a magical landscape: La Francesca is located here, in this side of Liguria, a steep area made fertile and green by men and women millenarian work. Its name was mentioned in 1584 newspapers reports and in Matteo Vinzoni’s maps of 1722.
A garden among rocks, a wood of sweet-smelling pine trees, a piece of land which goes down to sea, exposed to sun and Southern winds.
La Francesca is a small oasis which has miraculously escaped avidity, building speculation and pollution: a loved site, unique in the world, where in the clear winter days the sight ranges from Corsica to Monviso.
Sea breath and birds’ warbling give peace and serenity to those who come and spend a holiday here.
A different site, firmly longed for by Gloria Bortolotti De Poli, a dreamer, a journalist and writer, in order to preserve a strip of coast and create a tourist site respectful to the environment.
It took her 8 years to realize it, among general skepticism, from 1953 to 1961. It was very difficult to put together the different parts of the area, since during the years they had been divided in many properties that war and negligence had turned into waste lands.
Gloria believed in dreams’ realization and she began to work hard with his sons: the Resort opened in 1961, maybe one of the first examples of ecological tourism, and it is still managed by the son Marco.
La Francesca of “gold”: mines and rocks
The area of La Francesca hides a subsoil rich in minerals – maybe a sort of treasure – and millenary rocks.
From Bonassola archives:
In 1285 a few people from Levanto rent the copper and gold pyrite mines De Flerno (Scernio).
They produced also a very small quantity of gold, about 7 grams per ton!
Copper is a ductile metal, does not corrode and is one of the most precious natural resources. It is an oligo-element of vital importance. It stimulates nervous and cardiovascular system’s metabolism, iron absorption and protects cells from oxidation. No man or animal or plant could grow robust and live without copper. That is another reason for staying at La Francesca!
The Village coast, from Monte Gone to Bonassola bay, is a marvellous tract with bluish green rocks (serpentinites) e gabbroes (slow cooling magmatic rocks) which appeared on the sea surface in ancient times.
The flora: a treasure of bio-diversity
La Francesca’s vegetation is strictly dependent on soil quality.
In the upper side of the Village, on the headland to Levanto, we can find small shrubs typical of coastal areas, such as thyme, juniper, whose green berries usually take two years to ripen and become red, lavender and evergreens which can resist wind and limit transpiration so to save the water absorbed during the Winter months.
The Mediterranean marquis by the upper cottages is characterized by evergreen shrubs such as erica arborea, whose delicate rose flowers bloom from March to May, buckthorn, broom, strawberry tree, lentiscus, myrtle, rosemary and others.
La Francesca: an open air museum
Disseminated in the park, just to emphasize the beauty of the surrounding landscape, you can find sculptures, panels, bas-reliefs, statues and art traces of different authors.
The most imposing sculpture is La Deposizione (The Deposition), by Timo Bortolotti, father of Gloria. Made in 1947 from a block of white Carrara marble, it is located in the small chapel, where you can also find a bronze portrait of Gloria as a young woman.
Of the same artist, who was particularly renowned in the Thirties’:
– Vedetta alpina (Alpine vedette), 1938, a porphyry bas-relief
– Nike (1938), a woman head in red porphyry
– Nuotatore al via (Swimmer), a plaster work of 1940
and in the Restaurant hall Canzone marinara (Sailor song), a bronze woman torso of 1936.
Outside the reception “Mani che lavorano” (Working hands), panels by Dodi Bortolotti Rezzoli – daughter of Timo and sister of Gloria – a sculptor and a portraitist of excellent skills. Of the same artist the polychrome ceramics on the restaurant terrace: Il bevitore (The drinker) and Fiaschi (Flasks), shown at the 10th Triennial of Milano in 1954.
The human and zoomorphic figures in Serena stone in the play area are by Maddaleni – a naïf sculptor launched by Gloria: a farmer who made sculptures to adorn his vegetable-garden!
While the huge steel sculptures are the work of Maurizio Benassi, an affectionate guest of La Francesca.
The sea area between Punta Mesco and Riomaggiore, on the eastern side of the Village, is a protected one, and has been created to preserve the sea bed and the environment.
Along the coast the Posidonia beds – “the green lung of the Mediterranean sea – thanks to their capacity to oxygenate water, have created luxuriant meadows, where fish and mollusks lay eggs in total security.
The rocky sea bed of Punta Mesco and Capo Montenero still boast one of the richest population of our sea: the coralligenous.