Western Liguria

An itinerary to discover a lesser known part of Liguria, passing through two of the most beautiful villages in Italy, in the province of Imperia

These are borderlands, marked by woods and mountains a few kilometers from the sea. But the great charm of this part of the province of Imperia lies in its ancient stone villages. Two of them, Diano Castello and Perinaldo, were included in 2019 in the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy. To discover these lands you must let yourself slide along the provincial roads of the hinterland, three hours from Milan and two and a half from Turin, to spend a weekend of relaxation, nature and good food.

The tour starts from Diano Castello, perched on a hill to escape the incursions of Saracen pirates. Its medieval castrum is a succession of carrugi (small alleys), small squares and Romanesque churches, where you can stop in one of the many taverns to taste the friscioi (like pancakes) accompanied by a good glass of Vermentino or one of the many rose local, from the Oremeasco of Ponassio to the Rossese Dolceacqua.

The tour continues on the typical roads of the Ligurian mountain. Climb up to Pontedassio, then go to Colle San Bartolomeo. A little higher up in Valle Arroscia there is Vessalico, whose sweet and intense garlic is protected by Slow Food. As well as the cheese made by local sheep, the Brigasca sheep.

Proceed to San Bernardo di Conio, cross Carpasio and reach Baldalucco. Now you are located in Val Argentina. Here the famous village of Triora, known as the town of witches, offers a typical wholemeal bread that goes perfectly with Bruzzu cheese, a fermented cheese with a strong and pungent flavor.

Baldalucco instead welcomes you with water mills where the incredible Taggiasca olive oil is produced. Oil perfectly used in the local cuisine to season the typical Rundin beans, another Slow Food presidium, which are the ideal dide dish to the famous local sheep stew. But this is also a land of stockfish both creamed (Brandacujun) and stewed (Baucogna), a sure tip to try this dish is L’Osteria Cian de Bià. The dialogue between sea and mountains is continuous also in the kitchen, as you can see

Now start again and remain at altitude towards Bajardo, with its 910 meters above sea level it’s the highest municipality in the province of Imperia, here they’ve just restarted to cultivate lavender, which had been introduced by the Phoenicians. The historic center of the town is enchanting, dominated by the Maritime Alps, with the church of San Nicolò in the center.

After a detour to the spectacular village of Apricale you’ve reached the end of the tour in Perinaldo, called the “Borgo delle Stelle” (tvillage of the stars), but also known for its the purple artichoke, another of the incredible flavors of this magnificent piece of Italy, less known but with a lot to tell.

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