Discover the 8 officially prettiest inland villages in western Liguria

Written by on February 10, 2021 in Cities, Towns & Villages, Liguria


Let’s discover the 8 officially prettiest inland villages in western Liguria!

Inland, away from the luscious sea side, western Liguria, i.e. the part between Genova and the border with France is a varied and relatively wild land of vineyards, olive groves, lemon trees and forests. It is a mountain landscape dotted with medieval towns and tranquil hamlets, ancient churches, chapels and glorious castles.

Liguria is home to 24 of the 281 ‘most beautiful villages in Italy’ according to “I borghi più belli d’Italia”, an association created to protect and promote Italy’s small towns that have significant artistic, historical and cultural heritage. Here we discover together the 8 prettiest ‘borghi belli’ located in western Liguria


medieval town on the hill - Discover the 8 officially prettiest villages in west Liguria's inland

Apricale –  A little stone village, always kissed by the sun!

Apricale is a charming hamlet 30 km inland from Imperia and the Riviera dei Fiori.

The word Apricus in Latin means “sunny” which is where the name of the village comes from. This little medieval borgo is perched on a hill surrounded by gorgeous olive groves and has a breath taking view over the Maritime Alps. The little stone alleyways are perfect examples of ancient Ligurian architecture.

If you happen to be in Apricale around the 8th September do not miss out on the village Festival, where you can taste the delicious ‘pansaroles’, a fried sweet similar to ‘chiacchiere’ and usually eaten with a zabaione.

The area surrounding Apricale is rich in “Fasce” (terraces), built over the centuries for planting olive trees. The local oil produced from the ‘taggiasca’ olive is considered by many experts to be the best in the world.

Perinaldo medieval village

Perinaldo – Il Poggio delle Stelle

Perinaldo is also located just 30 km inland from Imperia. From Perinaldo you can take a nice one hour’s walk to the above mentioned Apricale along an old mule track.

The astronomer and mathematician Giovanni Dominico Cassini was born in Perinaldo in 1625, at the time when the area was part of the County of Nice, part of the Savoia State. He discovered the rings of Saturn. The Museum that was named after him is worth visiting, as is the Municipal Astronomical Observatory. On via G.D. Cassini you will find a mural depicting a perfectly reproduced “Solar System”  in 1:10 billion scale.

During the summer Perinaldo hosts several open air musical, theatrical, gastronomical events.

medieval stone house

Colletta di Castelbianco – “telematic” village

Colletta di Castelbianco is an ancient village in the Maritime Alps not far from Albegna. The original village was probably established as a defence against the Saracens in the 13th century. It was almost completely destroyed in the terrible earthquake in 1887. It has since been completely restored and now operates as an unusual hotel, or ‘albergo diffuso’, with the guest accommodation spread out amongst the village and in nearby hamlets, but all run from a central reception area. The complex also includes a swimming pool and all the houses have fiber optic broadband making it an ideal place for a working ‘vacation’.

Time your visit for the beginning of December and help celebrate the first harvest of the olives at the Festa dell’Olio.

Colourful houses in the Liguria

Campo Ligure –  centre for artisan filigrana – filigree

The village is located about 30 km inland from Genoa in the Beigua natural park. During a stroll around the delightful pedestrian only village centre discover the bright and colourful Ligurian houses and enjoy the artisan shops selling the gold and silver filigrana – filigree for which the village is world famous. Then go to the fascinating filigree museum.  Visit also the two beautiful churches of the village, la chiesa San Sebastiano and la chiesa delle Nativita di Maria Vergine.

If you get hungry, try a freshly baked ‘revzora’, a cornflour focaccia.

stone medieval village in Liguria

Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena – a fairy tale

Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, perched on the mountain, at 1100 meters above sea level, is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, with its labyrinth of narrow alleys that run up to the castle. Walking through the historic centre is an unforgettable experience, under a succession of vaults and arches that connect the houses and their lovely “gobbe” – external bread ovens.

If you feel like venturing out on a longer walk, take the “Ilaria del Carretto” path that starts south of Castelvecchio and reaches the village of Zuccarello. The 3km route is well marked, rises gently and takes about 1h15 minutes.

stone and colourful houses - Discover the 8 officially prettiest villages in west Liguria's inland

Zuccarello – home of Ilaria del Carretto

Zuccarello runs along a single road, flanked on both sides by porticoes with different shaped arches and pillars. Parallel to its main street are the typical Ligurian alleys called ‘carruggi’. Two ancient towers rise on both sides of the entrance gates. Other sights to see are the Romanesque bridge, Porta di Ponte Neva and Porta del Molino and the elegant Marquis Palace. Check out also the ‘beudi’, long canals that were used to power the mills and olive presses and to carry fresh water to the village.

Stone medival village on the hill, with beautiful churches

Seborga – the principality

The quirky and delightful village of Seborga is to be found near the French border, between Ospedaletti and Bordighera, less than 50km from Imperia.

Whilst it is part of Italy, Seborga claims to be a principality similar to Monaco. In reality, only the residents of the village recognise this fact.  The Principality of Seborga is  ruled by a “prince” who was known locally as Sua Tremendità (‘His Tremendousness’) until his death in 2009. He was replaced by Prince Marcello, who was elected in 2010. Seborga has its own flag, anthem, postage stamps, and currency – the “luigino”, a souvenir coin that is accepted for payment in the village. The postage stamps cannot be used to send mail as they are not recognized by the town’s post office, which is operated by Poste Italiane.

Ancient gates defend the village – Porta San Martino, Porta di San Sebastiano and Porta del Sole. When you reach the central Piazza San Martino go and see the magnificent frescoes and mosaics in the Chiesa San Martino. In the musical instruments museum you will find more than 135 instruments from a private collection, dating from the 18th to the 21st centuries.

Beautiful views over the valley - Discover the 8 officially prettiest villages in west Liguria's inland

Triora – Salem of Italy

Triora is a village perched 800m above sea level nestled in the green Argentina Valley, surrounded by mountains. The village hides a terrible mystery that took place at the end of the 1500s. Some local women were accused of witchcraft and underwent one of the most famous and bloody trials held in Italy. This sad story gave this medieval village the nicknames of “paese delle streghe” – village of witches and the “Salem of Italy”. In memory of these tragic events, a festival called “Strigora” takes place every year on the first Sunday after 15th August. There is also a small ethnographic and witchcraft museum at the entrance of the town.

There are three marked sight-seeing itineraries that you can follow in Triora. One is “artistico” – artistic, characterized by the red colour and starts from the witch-craft museum. The other one is the “curioso” – curious, marked with blue and starting from the castle. The last one is dedicated to children and is marked yellow. Following the right path is very simple, just look out for the coloured stickers on the cobbled alleys. Do go also to Poggio della croce, from where you can enjoy a magnificent view over the valley.

Among the typical local food products, you should try the delicious Triora brown bread spread with ‘bruss’ or ‘bruzzo’, a ricotta cheese with herbs and spices which gives a slightly spicy flavour.


Discover also the stunning Cinque Terre.

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