Santo Stefano d'Aveto is a town in the province of Genoa, located in Val d'Aveto, on the shores of the river that has the same name, at about a 1000 meters above sea level, known since the fifties as a ski resort, fully equipped with modern facilities and artificial snow systems.
The town tributes the presence of pre-Roman institutional law "the Comuneglia", similar to other realities found in Trentino Alto Adige, but only example in Liguria. The law consists in the right of all citizens on the ownership of a particular stretch of land and the proceeds thereof.
The first settlement dates back to prehistoric times, however, the area was soon appreciated for its favourable geographical position: the height, which meant more protection from enemy attacks and the proximity to the surrounding regions. Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Piedmont of which Santo Stefano is their common core area, which has enabled the creation of a recognized cultural tradition that unites the provinces of Genoa, Piacenza, Pavia and Alessandria. Santo Stefano was for a long period under the rule of Abbey of San Colombano and in the XII century it was ceded by Frederick Barbarossa to the Malaspina family, who built castles and fortresses in the surrounding area. The Fieschi bought the lands in the late XV century and preserved their rights here until the first half of the XVI century, when as a result of a conspiracy it was acquired by the Doria. Years of conflict and discontent caused by the bad government of the Doria, led, in the late XVIII century, into a popular uprising.
The town followed, in the years after, the fate of neighbouring municipalities: incorporated in the Kingdom of Sardinia after the Congress of Vienna and in the New Kingdom of Italy.
Not to miss:
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose cult was widespread in Italy thanks to the work of the Jesuit Fathers. The building, of the early XX century in Tuscan Gothic style, features one major nave, two aisles and an elegant polychrome façade. It is located just outside the town and preserves inside a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe, donated by the Cardinal and Secretary of State Giuseppe Maria Doria Pamphili. According to the local history, the painting was donated by Admiral Giovanni Andrea Doria, nephew of the famous Andrea Doria Oneglia, after the battle of Lepanto in 1571.
The Castle is located in the middle of a valley at the foot of Mount Maggiorasca, at short distance from Santo Stefano. The property, according to some sources, was built before the XII century. It is mentioned in a historical document of 1164, when the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa ceded the feud and the castle of St. Stephen to the Malaspina Family. At the end of the V century, the building was sold to Fieschi and in mid XVI century, it was sold to Admiral Andrea Doria and remained in the family's possession until 1797, when Imperial feudal rights were abolished by Napoleon. Today it belongs to the town hall. Born as a noble, it was modified in the XVI century. It has an irregular pentagonal shape with wedge-shaped bastions at each corner.