Just before arriving in France, on the last western strip of Liguria there is the riviera border town of Ventimiglia. This stretch of coast is wild and rich in mediteranean vegetation : The Hanbury Gardens, botanical gardens for climatized exotic plants extending on a surface of 18 hectares to the "Spiaggia delle Uova" beach, a sweep of sea cliffs and crystal clear sea around the Grottos of Balzi Rossi, where traces of the prehistoric man of about 20,000 years ago were discovered.
You cannot miss a visit to Bordighera, an elegant town whose colours were sources of pictorial inspiration for the the impressionist groups , with the Roman way and its hotels immersed in greenery and the palm groves, one of the most preserved historic centres along the coast.
But the appeal of this part of Liguria is above all its charming hinterland with historic medieval villages sheltered by the mountains and its maze of sheer cobbled alleys leading down to the sea.
Val Nervia, Val Rioja and Valle Argentina: exploring in the valleys you can encounter unspoilt landscapes and medieval centres of noteworthy interest like Dolcedo, overlooked by the Doria Castle ; Pigna with its thermal baths, Isolabona and Apricale.
La val Nervia, already inhabited during the Bronze Age and protected by impenetrable castle walls, in the middle ages was important for communication. The mouth of the river in proximity to the sea is a WWF sanctary where you can walk and go bird-watching.
On the high ground of Bordighera, the village of Doleacqua is the homeland of the Rossese wine of Dolceacqua DOC, which goes so well with pissa cun e erbe, a stuffed foccacia of rice, kale, olive oil, onion and grana cheese. The gastronomic glory of Dolceacqua however is the micheta , little oval croissants linked to a legend of love and power.
Going ahead along the state provincial road 64 amidst the hills and the valleys one encounters the village of Apricale:, cobbled alleys, voltoni ,steps, stone walled houses and the Castle of Lucertola, which every summer hosts The Theatre of the Tosse and its travelling shows.
Deeper into the valley you can find unspoiled landscapes and historic towns of considerable interest as Dolceacqua, dominated by the castle of Doria; Pigna with its spa, or Isolabona Apricale.
Upper Val Nervia is situated inside the Natural Regional Alpine Park of Liguria, together with the valles of Argentina and Arroscia. . Even though it is so near the sea it offers one of the most beautiful landscapes of all the Alps. In the area closer to the sea you can find mediteranean vegetation with olive groves, vineyards and flower-growing. Then, suddenly you come to the alpine area with pine woods, oaks, firs and beeches. It is one of the most varied environments in the world. The mountains of Torraggio(m.1973) and Pietravecchia (m. 2038), where ground hogs live and rhododendrons grow, are also called "the little dolomites".
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