Perinaldo, a village among the stars.
Following the Aurelia road from Bordighera to Vallecrosia and climbing towards the hinterland on the SP 59 road you will get to the ancient villages of Vallecrosia Alta, San Biagio della Cima and Soldano, among mimosas and the Rossese vineyards.
The winding uphill road leads, after 30 minutes and 16 km, to Perinaldo, a star in the sky of the Ligurian villages. Overlooking a ridge that offers stunning views of the sea to the south and the Maritime Alps to the north, a magnificent village “close to the stars” awaits you, home of some great astronomers: among them is famous Gian Domenico Cassini, mathematician and astronomer of the Sun King.
This is a village which also shines for the value of its land and its culinary traditions, where the cultivated fields grow some tasty thorn free artichokes, brought here by Napoleon and today Slow Food Presidium. Here, the ancient olive groves offer an excellent extra virgin oil, a precious ingredient for succulent dishes such as meesane – stuffed zucchini flowers – and vegetable fugassun savoury pie. These delicacies are perfectly accompanied by a glass of Rossese Dolceacqua DOC wine. Leaving the village, after just 20 minutes and 7 km of bends you will get to the maze of alleys and small squares of Apricale, along the SP 62 and 63 roads.
Orange Flag, one of the most beautiful villages of Italy
Apricale, the village hanging from the sun.
Twenty minutes and 7 km of winding road along the SP 62 and 63 roads, among woods and beautiful lookouts over the Liguria Alps, will take you from Perinaldo to a very unique and surprising village perched on the hills of western Liguria: Apricale, “the stone village”. A stone waterfall appears up high on the steep slope, welcoming visitors among the oak and olive trees clinging to the nearly vertical rocks. An “aprico” village, meaning well exposed to the sun, as the Latin word “apricus” perfectly expresses. It is no coincidence that in medieval times it was also called “the village of the Lizard”, from the nice small reptile which gives its name to the medieval castle and watches over the maze of caruggi (alleys), archways and houses with colourful murals.
Discover its most remote corners, get lost in a charming maze of narrow streets that lead you to the “two-level” square, enclosed by famous buildings, the church, the oratory, the city hall and the castle. Here you can live the town’s most authentic and genuine soul, breathing the mood of a place which is ages away from modernity, between pallapugno (a traditional ballgame) matches and theatre performances. On the outskirts of the village you will find the “mills road”, with seven ancient facilities representing the past and present economy: Apricale is the “City of oil” and its “liquid gold” is used – among other things – to prepare pansarole, sweet fritters offered in the village square during the September festival, and to season stockfish, which can be accompanied by the Apricale homemade beer. Leaving the village, the SP 63 road descends towards Val Nervia and passes through the village and the castle of Isolabona; climbing the valley along the SP 64 road, in twenty minutes and ten km you will reach the village of Pigna, surrounded by woods and mountains.
Pigna, sulphurous waters, sacred art and beans.
From Apricale, the SP 63 roa d descends towards the village of Isolabona in val Nervia; climbing back up to the valley on the SP 64 road, in twenty minutes and 10 km you will reach the village perched on its hill, surrounded by woods and mountains: Pigna is a wonderful and tiny village that immediately stands out for its peculiar urban profile. Here is a compact complex of houses, gathered like a “pinecone” (pigna in Italian), crossed by a thick maze of narrow streets (called chibi, meaning “dark”) with arches, covered loggias, small squares with traces of six bread ovens. Delve into the village to discover some amazing religious buildings such as the fifteenth century St. Michael parish church, enriched by a beautiful marble rosette and a sumptuous 16th century altarpiece by famous artist Giovanni Canavesio. You can then relax by going down to the valley and admire what the Romans called the lacum putidum, “the smelly lake”, where the sulphurous waters have prompted the realization of a famous spa. Above the village you can reach Buggio, another small “beehive” of stone houses at the border between the Mediterranean landscape of olive trees and the alpine landscapes of the Toraggio and Pietravecchia mountains, with fir woods and pastures. Here, the local cuisine reaches new heights of quality thanks to genuine ingredients and special recipes, such as the “Rundin dell’Angelo” – white beans to enjoy with goat (Crava co-i faxeui) and in vegetable soups – and mountain cheese, potatoes, beans, turnips, leeks and garlic, all of them staples of the “white cuisine” of the Ligurian Alps shepherds. These flavours combine well with a good glass of Rossesse of Dolceacqua or Ormeasco of Pornassio, two noble DOC wines of the Ligurian Alps. Leaving from Pigna, go across the entire Val Nervia on the SP 64 road up to the coast; in half an hour and 19 km you will reach the SS 1 Aurelia road, between Ventimiglia and Camporosso.