Itineraries 2


The Poliscenyc Crib (map)

The main events of Jesus' life relive in a sequence of plastic, shining and colourful paintings, according to the Catalan school of plaster. This diorama, conceived by Don Alberti Alfonso and Sir Angelo Stefanucci (President of the Italian Company "Friends of the Crib"), was planned and built by the Catalan artist Jòan Marì Oliva, who finished it after having worked day and night for two months. The dioramas are totally new to Liguria both for the characters and for the realization. The themes chosen and developed depict the period between birth and Calvary. This work was completed at different times: the first 14 episodes in 1969; two in 1972, three in 1973 and four in 1975, but we hope to do more. Every painting is in coloured plaster; statuettes (from 2 to 30 cm) and objects are in terra-cotta and they were made by artisans from Barcelona. In fact, the tradition of the dioramas is very popular in Spain, especially in Catalonia. As a homage to our land, the Censis was set into the picturesque cloister of the Dominican in Taggia; the "research for the accommodation" into the Old Town of Sanremo and finally the painting "Homage of Bordighera to the Holy Child" represents the Riviera of Flowers with the small Church of St. Ampelio and the young shepherdesses and sailors with the ancient costumes of the city. The figures are by Antonio Mazzeo from Lecce. (from the "depliant" "The Poliscenic Crib")

Cribs in the District of Imperia

The Polyscenic Crib is permanent: Madonna of the Flowers Church - Via Pasteur. Opening daily from 3pm to 5pm. To visit, please call: 0184 - 25.40.55 Bus every hour from the Railway Station

The Clarence Bicknell Library-Museum (map)

The Neomedieval building (picture on the side) wanted by the English Clarence Bicknell, was planned in 1886 and it was the first museum of Western Liguria. Inside there is a unique big hall, used by the Library as a reading hall with the depots of the Institute. It keeps over 85,000 books and 1,300 magazines of archeology, local history and art. In addition there are: mouldings, drawings, pictures, which represent over 14,000 prehistoric graffitos discovered by Bicknell on Mount Bego; archeological recoveries of the 2nd - 3rd century A. D.; a collection of pictures and an important one of butterflies of the 19th century. In the garden of the Museum there are some paving-stones of a Roman road from Albintimilium and an amazing Ficus Magnolioides grows here. Recently, the Institute received an important collection (oil paintings, water-colours and sketches) by the painter Pompeo Mariani (Monza 1857 - Bordighera 1927), set in the nearby Nino Lamboglia Centre. (from "Museums of Western Liguria" I.I.S.L.) (Click on the picture)

International Institute of Ligurian Studies . Office: Mon - Fri: 8.30am - 1.00pm/2.00pm - 5.30pm. Library: Mon - Fri: 9.30am - 1.00pm/1.30pm - 4.45pm. The institute is closed during the week of the Virgin Mary's Assumption

Sasso (map), Borghetto Saint Nicolò (map)

A few kilometres inland from the coast, there are the hamlets of Borghetto Saint Nicolò and Sasso, both reachable by bus (to Sasso, to Borghetto S.N.). Charming like two cribs, these places are situated among mimosas and brooms and you should visit them. The influence of the sea is strong and the palms all around Sasso are testimony to this. Historically, the first inhabitants of Bordighera came from Borghetto S.N.. These "rock villages", so called by the English, are composed of little conurbations, which maintain an unbroken Medieval shape with houses and towers made of rock. In fact, the name Sasso recalls the rock on which the small village, once protected by semicircular towers which completed the fortress, is situated. We have information about this village since the 15th century which confirms that in the Middle Ages there were lots of installations in this zone; one of these was the Sepelegium, whose name recalls one of the towers of Bordighera, the Sapergo Tower. Of Borghetto, we should remember the parish church and the 18th-century oratory of Our Lady of the Annunciation, where the Piedmont historian Carlo Botta stayed in 794. The characteristics of Sasso are much more varied, for example the central square and the Saints Peter and Paul's parish, which has interesting stucco-works in the presbytery and frescos of the two Saints in the vault. It was made by Maurizio Carrega at the end of the 18th century. The main altar-piece, still by Carrega, and a painting from the 18th century of the Madonna with the Saints are very interesting too. In front of the church there is the typical Ligurian square with white and black cobble-stones. (from BORDIGHERA AND VALLECROSIA of the Gallery) (pictures: Sasso and Borghetto S.N.)

The places of Garnier

The famous French architect Charles Garnier lived in Bordighera for a long time and left many examples of his stay. It is worth the trouble walking along this route, which takes you to some of his most important architectonical works. At least three of them should be visited. The Terrasanta Church could be the starting point, even though it was seriously restructured; then, through Via Regina Margherita, and Via Romana, we reach the Villa Bischoffsheim, which is interesting also because it is directly connected with Queen Margareth. Towards the Port of Bordighera, we can admire the fantastic Villa Garnier, which stand in an enviable location. It is also advisable to visit the Municipal Schools (today the Town Hall) and Villa Studio. (Luca Moreno)

The Roja Valley

From Bordighera you reach Ventimiglia, then along the highway 20 of the Tenda Col to Airole (13 km from Ventimiglia) and 5 km from AIROLE there is OLIVETTA SAN MICHELE. The winding road goes along the wild and picturesque valley of the River Roja till the old border with France (pass of Olivetta and Fanghetto). The typical medieval villages have a great landscape and surroundings.

AIROLE Population 540, 149 metres above sea level. It is a medieval village, situated on the banks of the River Roja. At first the Ghibelline Folco Curlo from Ventimiglia owned it (12th century); then the monks from Pesio and finally since 1435 the Lascaris from Tenda and Ventimiglia; in 1797 the Ligurian Republic proclaimed it an autonomous town. The village harbours a few ruins of the castle, but it is famous for its very ancient structure, developed in concentric circles. Thanks to its charm, it was chosen as secondary residence by a colony of foreigners (especially Dutch), who restored the old houses, maintaining their traditional architectural style. (picture: The Medieval village of Airole I.G.D.A.)

OLIVETTA - SAN MICHELE Population 300, 292 metres above sea level. Olivetta stands on the left bank of the Torrent Bevera, while San Michele has been created along the Tenda highway. Feud of the Earls of Ventimiglia and of the Bishop of Grasse, nowadays it is the chief town of a group of villages, which also included Piene and Libri, on French territory since 1947.


The Nervia Valley

Before reaching Ventimiglia (4 km from Bordighera) there is the crossroad to CAMPOROSSO, DOLCEACQUA, ROCCHETTA NERVINA, ISOLABONA, PIGNA, and CASTELVITTORIO. The route climbs up the valley of the River Nervia (except a short lateral diversion to Rocchetta Nervina), till the bottom of the Mounts Toraggio and Pietravecchia. The diversity of the landscape only a few kilometres from the coast to the mountains, the exceptionality of the Medieval villages, rich in atmosphere, monuments, art and enlivened by many events and feasts, the possibility of participating in various excursions into breathtaking natural surroundings, make the Nervia Valley an obligatory destination for those who want to discover the hinterland of Western Liguria.

CAMPOROSSO Population 4500, 25 metres above sea level. The village always depended on Ventimiglia, from which it tore itself away only in 1686 when it was absorbed by the Eight Places Republic. The most important monument is St. Peter's Church (11th century), which still has its original version of part of the right side, the square bell-tower and the apse. The inside frescos are from the 15th and 17th centuries. The 20th January (St. Sebastian) is the patronal feast, with the procession of a laurel tree adorned with many-coloured hosts, such as in Dolceacqua. On the third Sunday of September there is the festival of the "barbagiuai", a sort of fried "ravioli" stuffed with pumpkin and accompanied by other gastronomic specialities and by Rossese wine. (picture: The procession of Saint Sebastian in Camporosso (I.G.D.A.)

DOLCEACQUA Population 1900, 51 metres above sea level. It is situated in the low valley of the River Nervia. It was feud of the Earls of Ventimiglia, but in the 12th century it passed to Oberto Doria, the future winner of the naval battle of the Meloria against Pisa. Troubled by the struggles between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines and by the rivalry between the Doria and the Grimaldi family of Monaco, in 1524 it was taken under the protection of the Savoia family, which constituted it as marquisate (1652). In 1815 it was absorbed by the Reign of Sardinia. The village, divided in the middle by the River Nervia, is connected through the 33 metres long elegant and light medieval hog-backed bridge. The bridge, the castle and the district built all around the rock and called "Land", are a symbol of the medieval Liguria and of the life which still nowadays continues inside the ancient walls, where many local handicraft shops have been opened. The castle was begun in the 12th century and extended in the 15th century, but the destruction of 1745 ruined the original building, with the exception of the two angular square towers and a circular one. The Doria family died out in 1902 and the castle is now owned by the City of Dolceacqua and used as centre for theatrical performances and summer concerts. Once restored, it will become a polyvalent cultural centre of Western Liguria.

ROCCHETTA NERVINA Population 280, 225 metres above sea level. Ancient fortified village in 1186 called "Castrum Barbairae" by the Earls of Ventimiglia (because of the Brook Barbaira), it was destroyed in 1365 by Imperiale Doria, master of Dolceacqua and then it passed on to the Savoia (1388). In 1559, together with the castle of Mount Abellio, which controlled the connections with the Roja Valley, it returned to the Doria of Dolceacqua, of which it later decided the destiny. Rocchetta Nervina has an interesting defensive system and is joined to the main streets through two medieval hog-backed bridges. The 16th century parish church of St. Stephen was restored in Baroque style. (picture: Selection of the olives and the village of Rocchetta Nervina (I.G.D.A.) click on the picture)

ISOLABONA Population 630, 106 metres above sea level. This fortified village stands on the confluence of the River Nervia with the Brook Merdanzo. It was protected by the Doria of Dolceacqua, which at the end of the 13th century built the castle, whose ruins and square tower still remain. The entrance to the village is through the South Door; the main street divides the village into two parts and it crosses two squares, on which there are also the parish church of St. Mary Magdalen and the Baroque Oratory. In the middle of the village, there is an octagonal stone-made fountain of 1486. In the nearby cemetery, there is the small and primitive Romanesque church of St. Mary. Products: Rossese wine and olive-oil. (picture: Isolabona and the Medieval loggia of the Piazza Vecchia in Pigna (I.G.D.A.) click on the picture)

PIGNA Population 1150, 281 metres above sea level. This medieval village of the high Nervia Valley is composed of an ancient part, on the slope, and a recent one down in the valley. In 1262 it passed from the Earls of Ventimiglia to those of Angiò and Provence. Included in the countryside of Nice, it passed to Amedeo VII of Savoia in 1388 and in the 17th century it was aggregated to Genoa, coming back to the Savoia in 1633. The Free Republic of Pigna was born on 18th September 1944. Here it is possible to admire some of Canavesio works. In the originary and well-preserved medieval nucleus, there are the characteristic alleys, which join a series of concentric roads with the houses tangled as defense. Pigna owns the waters of the Nervia Valley, with the sulphureous hypothermal waters of the Lake Pigo. The thermal baths have been exploited and potentiated recently. The archeologist Carlo Fea (1753 - 1836) was born in Pigna.

CASTELVITTORIO Population 520, 420 metres above sea level. Medieval village of the Nervia Valley, it has the typical aspect of the high ground Ligurian places and dominates the access to the high valley from an exceptional position. Its ancient name "Castel Dho" (1227) changed to "Castelfranco" in the 18th century and then again in 1862. Feud of the Earls of Ventimiglia, in 1261 it passed to Genoa and depended on the podestrate of Triora. The village is surrounded by olive-trees and chestnut woods, which hide a great number of small, rural churches.


The Crosia Valley

From Bordighera through the so called "Romana Vecchia" towards Ventimiglia, we reach the crossroad to SAN BIAGIO DELLA CIMA, SOLDANO, PERINALDO and APRICALE. This circular route at first runs along the Crosia Valley among vineyards, olive-trees and roses, then it climbs up to the hill of Perinaldo and it penetrates through the mountains reaching the village of Apricale. Continuing on, we can reach Baiardo and Ceriana. (picture: The Crosia (or Verbone) Valley and the village of Apricale (I.G.D.A.) click on the picture)

SAN BIAGIO DELLA CIMA Population 900, 100 metres above sea level. This rural village's name derives from the dominant and precipitous wall of the Mount St. Cross. It depended on Ventimiglia until 1686, and then agreed to the Eight Places Free Community. The most prominent monument is the parish church (1777) of St. Sebastian and Fabian, which has a wooden statue of St. Sebastian by Maragliano. Products: Rossese and Vermentino wine.

SOLDANO Population 660, 77 metres above sea level. It is a rural village protected by a castle and dependant on Ventimiglia until its liberation in 1686. Inside the parish church of St. John the Baptist, there is a polyptych by Andrea della Cella dedicated to the saint; the Oratory, situated in the same place, is from the end of the 16th century. Soldano also agreed to the Eight Places Free Community. Products: Rossese and Vermentino wine.

PERINALDO Population 900, 572 metres above sea level. The village is in a wonderful location, on the crest which closes the valley and so dominates both the slopes. Formerly feud of Rinaldo, Earl of Ventimiglia (after whom it’s named) in the 11th century, it was founded by the inhabitants of two places which no longer exist, Vincidelo and Inconedelo. It passed to Genoa in 1230, then to Oberto Doria, master of Dolceacqua in 1288, and finally to the Savoia. It was destroyed by the Genoese in 1672. The astronomer Gian Domenico Cassini (1625 - 1712) and the cartographer and instructor of the Savoia family Tommaso Borgogno (1620 - 1695) were born in Perinaldo. Gian Domenico Cassini, professor of astronomy at the early age of 25, drew out the sun-dial of St. Petronius in Bologna, where he taught for about 20 years and made fundamental discoveries about the planets of the solar system. In 1669 he was called to Paris by King Louis XIV to direct the astronomic laboratory. The countryside around is cultivated with olive-trees, vineyards and flowers (such as roses, mimosa etc.). Products: Rossese wine and olive oil. A little below Perinaldo, across a lateral valley, there is the crossroad to Apricale (6,3 km far).

APRICALE Population 500, 273 metres above sea level. A picturesque, medieval Ligurian village in the valley of the River Merdanzo (Nervia basin), it is in a delightful zone. Cited since 1016, furnished with ancient Statutes of Liguria dating from 1267, included in the marquisate of Dolceacqua, it belonged to the Earls of Ventimiglia, who sold it to the Dorias. In 1523 it was destroyed by the Grimaldi of Monaco, who later dominated it. The village still boasts part of the medieval walls. It is probably, one of the most intriguing places of Western Liguria.


The Valleys of Bordighera

(hinterland of Bordighera)

From Bordighera crossing the Via Romana we reach Borghetto San Nicolò and Vallebona. If we run along the Via Coggiola and go towards the exit of the motorway, we reach Sasso and Seborga, two interesting and rich in history, picturesque villages of the nearby hinterland of Bordighera, deep inside the typical Ligurian hilly landscape with flower, vineyards and olive-groves. Past Borghetto San Nicolò, the ancient village from which the 32 families who founded Bordighera came, we reach Vallebona.

VALLEBONA Population 800, 149 metres above sea level. The village, which freed itself from Ventimiglia in 1686 and agreed to the Eight Places Free Republic, preserved almost intact its medieval structure: alleys, covered passages, small squares with stone houses. We enter the town through a gate with two trap-doors. The parish church of St. Laurence is the adaptation in 1478 of a previous church, of which only a beautiful bell-tower from the 13th century and the portal engraved in slate from 1478 remained. On the occasion of Good Friday, there is a holy performance of 17th century texts, "A tragedia", which should be revived and repeated every five years. Products: flowers, Rossese wine, olive oil and orange-blossoms for the distillation of essences (once an important activity of the valley). (picture: The village of Vallebona)

SEBORGA Population 320, 517 metres above sea level. The fortified village was at first the property of the Earls of Ventimiglia, in 959 given up to the Benedictine monks of Lerino, who in 1660 set up a mint, before selling it to the Savoia in 1729. As the abbot called himself Prince, the small village enjoyed the title of "Principality". In 1729 it was bought by Vittorio Amedeo of Savoia, after Louis XIV had revoked the right to mint coins. Seborga, which boasts an exceptional panoramic position, has the ruins of the place of the monks, called castle, the road and the doorway of the Mint, in the place where the smithy was. In the church of St. Martin there is a wooden Spanish statue from the 17th century and a silver engraved chalice from 1575.


(translation by Manuela Borella)