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Itineraries for Lovers

St. Valentine's Day in the province of Imperia: celebrate in the villages, countryside and by the sea.
 
Itineraries for Lovers
The feast of St. Valentine calls for intimate atmospheres, tucked away corners, peaceful villages and moonlit walks to make your heart beat to an unashamedly romantic rhythm.
The villages in the province of Imperia have settings that seem purposely designed to be a backdrop for love stories. Let's start with Apricale, where the joys of the heart reach new heights, given that here they celebrate Valentine's Day for three whole weekends.

A visit to the village is spellbinding: the town is like a scene straight out of a history book chapter on the Middle Ages. The three medieval gates lead to the carrugi, typical, narrow stone streets that bring you to the village parlour; in other words, the main square lined with ancient buildings, a splendid Gothic fountain and characteristic stone seats. The square is surrounded by a maze of narrow streets, houses, stairways and vegetable gardens.
Apricale is dominated by the majestic Castello della Lucertola (Lizard Castle), the village's undisputed symbol. Completely renovated, it has a beautiful rooftop garden and is protected by an imposing surrounding wall. Nowadays it hosts a variety of interesting artistic events.

But the surprises in Apricale don't end here: if you look up at the parish church bell tower and glimpse a bicycle, don't worry, it's a contemporary artwork entitled "The Power of Non-Gravity", created in 2000 by Sergio Bianco. It represents an original, symbolic way of interpreting reality by obeying inverted laws of gravity. Don't forget, though, that Apricale is the absolute romantic village, so be prepared for the gastronomic and musical itinerary planned specially for the week of St. Valentine's. And if the joys of the heart don't overwhelm those of the palate, here's a reminder that Apricale is also the "Olive Oil Town", producing high quality extra virgin oil.

From Apricale, let's venture on to Pigna, another splendid jewel case, famous for its relaxing thermal baths and the unusual concentric arrangement of its narrow streets known as chibi.
If you want a charming place to visit that also has a charming name, then Dolcedo is the village for you. Situated between the sea and countryside, its close-packed houses gather around the 8th-century bell tower, which seen from a distance offers visitors a foretaste of Dolcedo's attractions, framed by a green expanse of olive trees.

The province of Imperia is full of unexpected pleasures for the eyes and the soul, intensified by a stroll beside Nagaezzo Lake, which lends its name to the nearby waterfalls at the village of Diano Aretino. Or you can explore the characteristic covered passageways that connect the houses in the village of Vallecrosia, whose urban growth led to this inventive form of construction that was once a necessity but is now a source of general admiration.
Other gems include a rare example of a fortified church from 1300 near the village of Cipressa; the Church of San Pietro at Diano San Pietro; and, finally, the spectacular panorama over the Riviera dei Fiori, which you can enjoy on a walk (hand in hand of course!) along the streets of San Bartolomeo al Mare.

Did you know that…?
Itineraries for Lovers
In the large rooms of Castello della Lucertola (Lizard Castle) at Apricale, many people swear to have sensed a "strange presence". For the older citizens of the town there can be no doubt: it's the ghost of the beautiful Countess Cristina Anna Bettomo. Abandoned by her husband, she took refuge in Russia, where Sergei Romanoff, the brother of the tsar, fell in love with her. Upon her return to Apricale to seek a divorce so that she could live peacefully with her new love, her jealous husband murdered her. According to tradition, since that time her restless soul haunts her native town of Apricale, where an area of the local museum has been dedicated to her.


Michela Bilotta

 

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