WELCOME TO THE VIA DELLE ALPI LIGURI

Without any doubt Pigna is one of the Val Nervia village to visit during your traveling in the Liguria western part. According to Italian Touring Club, Pigna is also considered one of the Italy most beautiful villages.

As you enter Nervia valley, the silvery green of the many olive groves that extend over the hilly terraces becomes more sparse and gives space to the woods of chestnut and coniferous trees that become more and more thick.

The calcium docks of Toraggio and Pietravecchia mountains scenically close the valley.

Turned a curve appears, isolated on the top a hill, Pigna village with its stone houses gathered around the bell tower of San Michele.

 

Here, too, time seems to have stopped, the village encloses a labyrinth of narrow streets all to be discovered.

In addition to the village also the naturalistic wonders and the views all around are pristine, silent and rising.

And if there is place where a Liguria inhabitant would go to eat, that for sure will be Pigna.

In this guide you will be guided through history and through the most secret corners of this extraordinary medieval village, with its traditions and its secrets. You will discover how to visit Pigna at its best and you will find many ideas to enjoy your visit in this extraordinary country of Liguria.

Are you ready? Lets start!

Pigna history

Pigna urban configuration, is similar to that of the famous district of Sanremo, is perched and concentric: a maze of narrow streets and passages under the vaults, which represents an extraordinary monument of medieval architecture, unchanged over time.

This Liguria village takes its name from its pecliar arrangement. According to popular tradition, however, it comes from the many pines that grow in the area.

At first Pigna had to be a simple guard post, without strategic importance. Then towards the end of the XII century the village became a refuge for the Counts of Ventimiglia and became a strong castrum (castel), without powerful defensive works.

The constructions inner the walls were developed from the bottom to upwards, therefor each house was built on the roof of the house below, Pigna took the peculiar shape  of terraced landscape.

The village, founded in the Middle Age, remained ruled by Ventimiglia until it became, in 1258, a possession of the Provence counts of Anjou who then ceded it, in 1388, to Amedeo VII of Savoy.

Having become a border area between the Savoy and Genoa teritory, the town was fortified and defended by walls.

With the battle of 1625 Pigna fell under the dominion of the Republic of Genoa, but shortly in 1633, it was again conquered by the Savoys until the arrival of Napoleon.

what to see in pigna

Pigna is a village with a fascinating history and a mysterious architecture, with stone houses overlooking narrow alleys, ramps, stairways and passages under the vaults.

During your journey in discovering Liguria, a stop in Pigna is recommended to get lost among its ancient alleys, before indulging in the specialties of local gastronomy.

EXPLORE THE ANCIENT VILLAGE

From piazza XX Settembre you may see the medieval loggia (known as the Piazza Vecchia and mentioned in the statutes of the sixteenth century as Piazza del Consiglio), destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt in 1947: under the vaults, supported by low pillars, with interesting capitals, local parliament meetings were held and salespeople and buyers gathered on market days.

“LA TERRA E LA MEMORIA” museum

Pigna museum is devoted to the 1800s traditional rural life in Val Nervia. By visiting it you go on a journey through the traditional activities of this land, including shepherds, farmers intent on harvesting wheat, grape vine and olives trees in the countryside around the medieval village and in the distillation of lavender. You can also admire reproductions of ancient craftsmen at work such as shoemakers, carpenters and blacksmiths.

The museum is organized in five rooms:

  • Room 1: sheep fatming and lavender distillation
  • Room 2: faith and daily life
  • Room 3: handicraftsmen
  • Room 4: the wheat harvest
  • Room 5: olive oil and wine

San Michele church

This church was built in 1272,   in 1450 was  enlarged according to the project design  of architect Giorgio de Lancia.

The rehabilitation on 1965 restored its medieval appearance inside the church: the three aisles are divided by columns with capitals and bases in black stone carved by local craftsmen.

On the high altar stands the polyptych of San Michele by Giovanni Canavesio dated 1500: countless and colorful figures of saints emerge from the gilding giving life to one of the most impressive works of this painter.

the “chibi”

From a first nucleus built in the safest and most protected place on the hill, around the fortification, the village grew  according to a radial layout, with concentric rings connected by cross passages called chibi, which means dark.

These streets, which run between the houses and creep beneath them with steep steps, create a fascinating labyrinth that is certainly worth exploring in search of the signs of a past that is still so well preserved.

the “pigna ring”

The ring of Pigna is an extraordinary excursion of about 6 hours to discover the geological phenomena that shaped the territory of Liguria.

Crossing olive groves and thick woods you reach the hydrothermal springs. The itinerary continues, through bridges and uncontaminated territories, to the Gola di Gouta refuge, where it is possible to make a restful break from good food.

From the refuge, head back towards Pigna with a beautiful view of the villages of Pigna and Castelvittorio.

Buggio

Buggio is a small quarter/district of Pigna, an extraordinary example of a small medieval town nestled in between the mountains. This silent village is frozen in time and still retains its original concentric ring structure.

In recent years it has become a destination for northern European travelers who have bought and renovated the old houses and made this gem their holiday destination.

Grotte dei rugli

In Pigna you can also immerse yourself in the charm of the underground caves, always under strictly supervision of experienced guides.

A 15 minute walk from the village, the caves of the wrinkles expand because several kilometers below Mount Toraggio.

To find an expert guide, contact the CAI group of Bordighera.

Sito del CAI di Bordighera

PIGNA TYPICAL PRODUCTS

Pigna is the right place to stock up on unique and unmissable specialties.

If you are by there you cannot not miss to discover them.

pigna white beans

Pigna beans are small and white (12-13 cm long), reniform and covered with a very thin shirt that, once cooked, becomes an impalpable veil.

This local specialty is a Slowfood Presidium.

Pigna beans are good thanks to the extraordinary conditions of the soil, climate and spring water rich in mineral salts.

They are very similar to the beans grown in the neighboring area of Conio and Badalucco: the differences in appearance are imperceptible, they have the same characteristics of fleshiness, flavor and delicacy.

You can buy them in and around Pigna by asking them directly to the locals. The annual production is on average around 40-45 quintals.

 

mushrooms

The territory of Pigna is extraordinary for mushroom picking.
The local pickers called “fungaioli” jealously guard the secret on the best corners where to find these little goodies.
In the various restaurants and trattorias of the town, however, in the right season, they are offered in large quantities and prepared in every way: they are the protagonists of appetizers, first courses, second courses and delicious sauces.
In autumn Pigna is the setting for the traditional festival dedicated to the mushroom.

eating in pigna

Pigna is probably one of the countries where the Liguria inhabitants go often and more willingly to eat typical dishes. Local restaurants have a great gastronomic tradition as well as exceptional raw materials.

Gran Pistau

A typical wheat-based soup. 

Pisciarada

Pisciarada

A wonderful potato-based savory pie.

tripuretu

tripuretu

A tripe of kid or lamb.

Pansarotti

Pansaroti

Fried ravioli stuffed with vegetables and cheese.

Events in Pigna

A common characteristic of the Val Nervia countries is to be quiet and silent during the low season and to turn on the events and demonstrations during the summer. In this context Pigna is really a gem thanks to its gastronomic and cultural initiatives.

BLACK BREAD FEAST

The black bread is so named because of the peculiar color that the wholemeal flour used gives it. During this event the ancient oven of the town is put into operation to show the preparation of this specialty. Black bread is usually accompanied by some typical dishes of the Borgo and of course local extra virgin olive oil.

POETRY AND INTEDELIA COMEDY FESTIVAL

At the end of July, Pigna is the evocative setting for the Intemelia Poetry and Comedy Festival,  the most important festival of theater, music and dialect poetry in the western Liguria, which has now passed its thirtieth edition.

lavender festival

In August, the Pigna inhabitants celebrate lavender to comemorate the very active distillery of Aristide Martini, famous throughout the area. The pignaschi left at night to pick up the fragrant flowers on the mountains, in the main square the copper alembic is placed, normally visible in the rooms of the nearby museum, and throughout the country the scents of local products are sold on the stalls here agreed for the party.

raviolata di san tiberio

On the Sunday closest to 8 October, San Tiberio celebrations, Pigna remembers the terrible siege in which it was held by the barbareschi in the 16th century: the inhabitants of the village defended themselves by spilling hot oil on the enemies and, in memory of the narrow escape, every year on this occasion we prepare a lunch of ravioli seasoned without oil.

mushroom festival

In September, the mushroom festival takes place: Pigna area is in fact rich in numerous mycological specialties that lend themselves to being cooked in the most diverse recipes.

CALDARROSTA (CHESTNUT) FESTIVAL IN BUGGIO

For many years an autumn tradition has been the roasted chestnut festival which takes place in Buggio square of the historic center.
Visitors can taste the freshly prepared roasted chestnuts inside the huge pans in the square. Naturally there is also Rossese di Dolceacqua and craft beer.

HOW TO GET TO PIGNA

Pigna is one of the towns that meet climbing up the Val Nervia, a few minutes from the coastal cities of Ponente Ligure, Bordighera and Ventimiglia.

It is advisable to reach it by car even if it is served by a public bus service managed by Riviera Trasporti (www.rivieratrasporti.it).

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

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

CITIES AND VILLAGES IN THE SURROUNDINGS

On this page I have given you only a taste of the things you can live and visit during your stay in Pigna.

I am preparing for you pages dedicated to other towns and cities in the surrounding area, to offer you even more ideas and suggestions that only those who live in this area have always known.

❮❮ Scorri e scegli la guida ❯❯

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Conclusion

Thanks to this definitive guide on the Pigna you have all the information you need to organize your next trip to discover the Ligurian Riviera.

Already reading this guide you will have realized that Dolceacqua has a lot to offer for any type of traveler and at any time of the year.

I have given you all this information because in the tourist guides there is very little about the wonders you can discover in this area. The few suggestions offered by the other guides do not give you the possibility to organize your stay in the best possible way.

Furthermore, in the guides, it is difficult to find practical tips and suggestions on things that are really worth visiting, trying and experiencing when you intend to leave for a holiday on the Riviera di Ponente.

A last piece of advice I would like to give you is to also use this information that I have given you as a basis for your personal itinerary by inserting what you really care about, what you like and what most seems to align with your holiday idea . You will find that whatever the type of travel you prefer, the Riviera di Ponente will always be satisfied and surprised.

I really hope I have given you everything you need to be able to start organizing your own unique and rich travel itinerary.

Did you like the guide? Did I miss something? Let me know by writing it in the comments and share with us how and when you decided to visit the beautiful Pigna!

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