Enchanting inland places, from Dolceacqua to Pigna
There’s more to Liguria than seaside. In fact, part of the region’s extraordinary charm lies in the close proximity of the coast and the mountains, which are dotted with delicious villages just waiting to be explored.
Dolceacqua and Seborga
Immortalised in four paintings by Claude Monet, Dolceacqua is one of the best-known villages in Liguria. The gentle hill is dominated by the Doria Castle, surrounded by a scattering of small houses and an ancient Roman bridge. The area is home to the first Ligurian DOP certification – Rossese di Dolceacqua – and wonderful olive oils. Not far away is the Principality of Seborga, complete with reigning princes and its own laws, number plates and currency. The village is based around the main square, with the seventeenth-century Church of San Martino and the Palazzo dei Monaci, formerly home to the mint. Both villages are within easy reach of Bordighera, so take the opportunity to stay at the Grand Hotel del Mare and eat at Romolo Mare.
Perinaldo and Apricale
From Sanremo – where seekers of luxury should not miss Hotel Royal – you can visit the “village of the stars”, so called because it’s the birthplace of Giovanni Domenico Cassini, astronomer to French king Louis XIV and commemorated with a museum and an astronomical observatory. This place has more than a thousand years of history, and is the custodian of minor treasures in the form of churches, oratories and sanctuaries. Fifteen minutes by car takes you to Apricale, nicknamed (to continue a theme) “the village of the sun”. Bell towers and houses rise from narrow alleyways, all overlooked by the Castle of the Lizard, with fabulous views of the valley from the square outside. Back in Sanremo, don’t miss out on dinner at Ristorante La Pignese.
Triora and Pigna
Still in Sanremo, you can visit Triora, dubbed the “village of witches” for a gruesome episode of persecution in the sixteenth century. The story is told in a small museum and remembered on the third Sunday in August with the Strigora festival. Don’t miss the lovely Collegiata di Nostra Signora Assunta and Triora’s celebrated bread. Then on to Pigna, at the foot of the Regional Natural Park of the Ligurian Alps. The loggia of Piazza Vecchia, the panoramic balcony over the upper Val Nervia and the church of San Michele with its Renaissance polyptych by Giovanni Canavesio are the main attractions. Back in Sanremo, treat yourselves to an award-winning dinner at Paolo e Barbara and the hospitality of Miramare The Palace.