Dolceacqua is a lovely village nestled in the hills of Val Nervia, and is one of the gems of the Italian Riviera, just minutes from the sea and the nearby French Riviera.

Claude Monet, who in 1884 stayed in nearby Bordighera, went inland and in addition to the natural wonders of the coast, was enchanted by the village of Dolceacqua.

The Impressionist Painter drew the view of the village, the Castle of the Roman bridge of Dolceacqua and in his letters he wrote fascinated:

“… the place is superb, there is a bridge that is a jewel of lightness …”

Today the medieval village of Dolceacqua is still identical to how Claude Monet painted it in the late 1800s.

Because of its timeless beauty Dolceacqua is now a destination for tourists of all nationalities, who go here from the coastal cities of Liguria and neighboring France or who spend a few days of vacation in the numerous B&B spread among the carts.

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Dolceacqua is the oldest Orange Flag in Italy since 2000 (more than 100 countries in Italy have been awarded this coveted award) and is the national headquarters of the Association of Orange Flag Countries having the Presidency.

It is a brand of tourist-environmental quality for the hinterland of the Italian Touring Club, defined by the World Tourism Authority as the only successful fair tourism project in Italy.

In this guide, you will walk the history and fascinating legends of this medieval village with its traditions and beauties. You will discover what to visit in Dolceacqua and you will find many ideas and ideas to make the most of your visit to this extraordinary village of the Italian Riviera.

The Story of Dolceacqua

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The first official document that quotes Dolceacqua dates back to 1151, when the accounts of Ventimiglia had the first heart of the castle built at the top of the rocky speron overlooking the creek where the valley tightens and forks: the Roja valley on one side, the Val Nervia on the other.

In 1270 Dolceacqua was purchased by the Doria of Genoa and over the centuries the “Earth” was developed in the town that stands at the foot of the castle.

Wandering around this part of Dolceacqua you will be fascinated by the complicated concentric structure of the carts that develop around the castle.

In the middle of the fifteenth century, Dolceacqua began to grow and develop on the other side of the river: the new district of the “Borgo” was born.

The two parts were connected by the charateristic donkey-back bridge that so amazed the Impressionist painter Claude Monet.

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For many centuries, Dolceacqua was the capital of Doria’s rule, which over the centuries spread along the valley of Nervia, encompassing the villages of Perinaldo, Apricale, Isolabona.

During the conflict between guelphs and guillotines, Dolceacqua always keeps himself in the guinea filth, opposing the Guelphs of Ventimiglia and Monaco.

For centuries Dolceacqua was contested between the Grimaldi of Monaco, the Savoy and the Doria themselves.

Finally in 1746 the castle was besieged by the armies French and Spanish and almost destroyed.

After the castle was destroyed, the Doria moved to the village, in the same palace that, in 1794, hosted Napoleon Bonaparte.

What to see in Dolceacqua

Dolceacqua consists of two parts: the “Terra”, the oldest part of the village, the one built all uphill, clinging to the castle, and the “Borgo”, later arose on the flat right bank of Nervia. Here are some tips for you on what to see at Dolceacqua:

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The most striking way to enter the “Terra” is to walk the Ponte Vecchio, the symbol of Dolceacqua. It was built in the 15th century on the ruins of an earlier bridge: the only donkey-backed archway, 33 meters long, gives it elegance and vigor at the same time.

Once you cross the bridge you immediately find yourself in the web of narrow streets, stairs, arches, covered passages that constituted the best defense of the medieval village. The village was in fact built with a semi-circle system around the stronghold: this created a series of sectors that could easily be isolated and defended.

To the right is one of the most curious alleys, the Scasasse: a link between the bridge and the parish square, excavated at the level of the stream and probably used for defensive purposes.

Along the main street, which rises first gently, then more and steeper, up to the castle, the ancient medieval workshops have been reinterpreted as art galleries, artisan workshops, and wineries where you can buy the fine food and wine products Local.

As you go up the perspective on the fabric, you can’t help but be bewitched by the chaotic and perfect geometry drawn by the many exhaust arches, the Suspended terraces and the thousand unexpected passages that appear at every step between the houses.

Dolceaqua Castle

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Continuing the ascent along the Terra district, we finally arrive at Castello Doria. Over the centuries, the building has undergone several transformations.

The transformations and the different uses are still evident: today, visiting it, you can admire the military structures, the service spaces, the prisons on the side facing the village, while on the other side – with a large courtyard to separate – residential and representative environments.

The Church of Sant'Antonio Abate and Palazzo Doria

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Ridiscendendo fino all’altezza del fiume ci si ritrova nella piazza della parrocchiale di Sant’Antonio: nel ricco interno barocco è custodito il bel polittico di Santa Devota, commissionato nel 1515 da Francesca Doria a Ludovico Brea.

A lato della chiesa, sulla base della torre angolare delle mura medievali, si innalza il campanile barocco Sulla piazza prospetta il palazzo cinquecentesco che i Doria elessero, intorno al 1744, a loro dimora dopo la distruzione del castello; il passaggio che collega ancora l’edificio alla parrocchiale era un tempo utilizzato dai membri della nobile famiglia per accedere alla chiesa.

The Visionarium

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The street also has its headquarters 4D Visionarium : conceived by Ennio Andrighetto, it is a 4D and Omnimax (total image) projection room specialized in high quality naturalistic documentaries, in which photography, music and poetry merge in a crescendo of wonder.
During the show beyond the images in three dimensions, you hear the sound of real water flowing, the wind in the hair and the scents of nature.

An experience not to be missed!

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In the Borgo district there is the oratory of San Sebastiano, where you can admire a valuable wooden sculpture attributed to Maragliano.

Here is the seat of the brotherhood that on the Sunday closest to January 20 organizes the procession dedicated to the saint: following a rite of clear pagan origins, a large laurel tree is transported, adorned with colorful hosts, a symbol of abundance and agricultural crops

The typical products of Dolceacqua

Dolceacqua has a centuries-old history and even some of its most characteristic products have an ancient origin. History and legends are intertwined with delicious specialties.

The Michetta

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It tells a legend that the cruel Imperial Doria, lord of Dolceacqua, had been so ruthless as to claim the “jus primae noctis” and the beautiful Lucretia, rather than indulge, had preferred to die.

The inhabitants of the village then rose up and forced the tyrant to renounce his privilege forever.

The victory of the people against the tyrant was celebrated on August 16 with the preparation of a sweet, the michetta, a kind of double brioche covered with sugar. The women, preparing it, realized that the dough had a shape reminiscent of the female sex, and then they took it to the village shouting “Omi, au, a michetta a damu a chi vuremu nui” (“Men, now we give it to whoever we want”)

Since then, on the morning of August 16, the young people of the village, followed by an orchestra, go around the village, visiting the cellars and stopping under the windows of the girls, to whom the michetta is asked loudly.

After seven hundred years, the michetta continues to be the sweet of the village. and on special occasions and parties, it is accompanied by The Rossese, the DOC wine that is the other must of Dolceacqua.

The Rossese di Dolceacqua

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Dolceacqua’s red gold is his wine, the Rossese, appreciated by Pope Paul IIl Farnese, who had his Roman cellars supplied, and of which Napoleon fell in love, who would have renamed him by his name if the pride of the producers had not prevented him.

First DOC of Liguria, it is known as Rossese of Dolceacqua, although the recognized producing villages are fourteen, to emphasize the historical origins of the crop that seems to have been introduced by the Doria.

Once poured into the chalices, when the ruby color lights up with this excellent wine it gives off the characteristic warm scent that makes it perfect to accompany the simple, but tasty, specialties of local gastronomy.

Where to sleep in Dolceacqua

Dolceacqua is a small village but with many B&Bs, guest houses and apartments where to stay.

This locality, like all those of the extreme western Liguria, is very popular, especially during the summer.

To find the best accommodation it is best to plan ahead and book early.

How to get to Dolceacqua

Dolceacqua is the second village you meet by driving up the Nervia Valley, just minutes from the coastal towns of West Italian Riviera, Bordighera and Ventimiglia.

I suggest you to reach it by car even if it is served by a public bus service operated by Riviera Transport Line 7 (www.rivieratrasporti.it).

The nearest airport is Nice, which is 50km away(http://www.nice.aeroport.fr)

Another airport to lean on is Genoa(http://www.aeroportodigenova.it/)

Pictures of Dolceacqua

DOLCEACQUA ACCOMMODATIONS
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