The Beretta Route or "Empress' way

Porta della Mezzaluna
Porta della Mezzaluna

The Beretta route or Empress' way, was designed and built in 1666 by engineer Gaspare Beretta, one of the main military engineers who worked for Spain in Lombardy, Piedmont and Liguria.

The great artery that connected the Marquisate of Finale to the Duchy of Milan was built on the occasion of the passage of Margherita Teresa of Spain who was travelling to Vienna to join her husband, Emperor Leopold I of Austria, to whom it had been married by proxy. The infanta arrived from the sea with a grandiose fleet and touched land thanks to a long pier that had been built especially for her landing place. There were days of sumptuous festivities in Finale, and an arch was also erected in honor of the future empress that today stands in the Piazza di Spagna. But that's not all, because, for her, the engineer Gaspare Beretta, in only twenty days of work, rearranged the road to Milan, which from the Borgo, passing through the Porta della Mezzaluna, climbed to Castel Govone, crossed the long meadow of Pian Marino, then continued to Rialto and reached Melogno, from where it descended into Val Bormida.

This road, wonderful for the times, defined as beautiful, comfortable, and firm, was able to allow two carriages to cross without any problems.

 

The Beretta routes reaches the castle.
The Beretta routes reaches the castle.

The road was a comfortable transit between the steep Ligurian Alps towards the Po Valley and worried the Genoese for the commercial potential it could express, and the Spaniards themselves for the security and the defensibility of the Marquisate. In case of aggression, in fact, this superhighway could have favoured and speeded up the arrival of enemy heavy artillery carried on wagons.

During the numerous wars of the following decades the road was interrupted in several strategic military points and lost its characteristics as a major communication artery. When the Genoese half a century later bought the Marquisate (1713) it lost its strategic importance and became one of the many roads of the Genoese domain that connected the coast with the Alpine passes and the Po Valley.

 

Today it can be walked in some stretches even if partially damaged and ruined while it is perfectly preserved in the stretch that connects Finalborgo to the town of Perti.

The road that climbs up from Finalborgo
The road that climbs up from Finalborgo