Liguria is well known for its fabulous pictures of towns facing the sea and sunny beaches.

However, not so far from the coast,  there are many hidden gems surrounded by nature that can make your holiday unique and special.

In this guide you’ll discover 11 towns in Liguria that aren’t in every touristic guide and that have amazing traditions and exceptional gastronomy.

We’ve personally explored each one of these villages:

are you ready to discover them too? Here we go!

This beautiful town is the perfect destination for travellers that love history and nature breathtaking panoramas.

Airole’s origins are strictly related with Ventimiglia’s ones, which has conquered and colonized the area where today you can find the town. it was damaged during the local battle between Genova and the italian royal family.

If you want to go to visit Airole, you must absolutely visit the typical bridge on the Roja river: symbol of the war between the local populations. The “Torre d’Olivé”, a tower built for military purposes, is the perfect aim for history lovers: its military shape is a perfect example of how people used to live at the time. 

Typical Airole’s recipes are part of the local people culture: some examples are the “galletti”, the “mariette” and the “micui”, which are all typical Christmas dishes. Wine is also a very important part in the Airole’s gastronomy which goes with most of the typical courses. 

A very important event in Airole is the “tourist’s party”, where tourists can eat all of the typical foods and dance with traditional music. Moreover, every year in July you can assist to the Lavanda festival, and you can make lavanda-flavoured drinks

Apricale is a small village, and it’s one of the most beautiful ones. It’s part of the “Bandiere arancioni”. It’s also known as the “sunny town” and it’s surrounded by nature.

The whole place looks like a forgotten medieval village, and this is the reason why many artists want to visit it.

The entire town is famous in the Riviera for its old monuments because of its you can’t miss the “Castello della Lucertola”, a castle that today is used as a museum.

It is also known for its typical food: the “pansarole” are delicious fried biscuits that you can eat warm and cold, but they’re better when eaten with “zabaione cream”.

Apricale is really a magic and calm place, but sometimes during the year you can assist to really interesting events. Here there are some of them:

  • The “Teatro della Tosse”, a dynamic theater where the spectator becomes part of the show.
  • The “Pansarole Festival”, in september.

Castelvittorio it’s a very little village on top of a high hill, surrounded by nature. People often say that the view is too perfect to be true 

The village was used by Genova between 1200 and 1700 to protect itself from various italian royal families. It is similar to many other villages in Liguria, but its location and his structure is what makes it unique.

In Castelvittorio you can explore the forests while listening to the sounds of the nature. Come and relax while admiring the breathtaking view and breathe some fresh air.

One of the typical dishes of Castelvittorio is the “turtun”, a savoury cake made with cheese and green vegetables. Another product is the “castagnaccio”, usually eaten in autumn.

Famous for its long history and for the magnificent architecture, Dolceacqua is surrounded by nature. 

Dolceacqua’s symbol is its very-well known castle that was built long ago by the Doria in order to protect themselves from other populations. Many artists were attracted from its beauty, in particular Claude Monet that decided to paint it in one of his masterpieces.

Another gem that makes Dolceacqua shine is the unique net of alleys that goes through most of the city: the “Scasasse”. Also, you can visit the Sant Antonio Abbate’s church and the “Old Bridge”, which connects the new part of Dolceacqua to the old one.

The village’s  cuisine is kinda unique: the “michetta”, is a sweet delicious baked soft biscuit made out of simple doe, but the process that makes it so special is actually a secret.

If you really want to visit Dolceacqua, you can’t miss the annual festival, during the summer, where there are some amazing fireworks and buffets.

Isolabona is surrounded by wild nature, right in the middle of the “Val Nervia”, the valley where the Nervia river flows. It’s a perfect place for whoever wants to live “en plein air”

The local population always had a strict relationship with nature, and this made Isolabona a little paradise. The Doria Castle is one of the things you must visit, unfortunately it was severely damaged during the Second World War. Also, the Santa Maria Maddalena church is a great thing to see, especially for his singular architcture.

Isolabona truly shines for his “büeti”, a sweet loaf of bread that is only baked by a few people that know the secret recipe.

Olivetta is a hidden village where people learnt to live with the nature without harming it.

It has been an inspiration for many poets for a long time, for example Ugo Foscolo.

The reason why many poets took inspiration from Olivetta it’s because of the medieval architecture of the “Castello della Piena”, a castle that used to be the only defense of the town. You can also visit some churches, like the “Sant Antonio”’s and the “Angeli Custodi”’s one. 

Olivetta’s typical dish is the “capra coi fagioli”, a fantastic second course that is usually served every first sunday of September. It’s better with a glass of classic, typical red wine.

If you want to go to Olivetta, you shouldn’t miss the “capra and fagioli” festival every year in September. You don’t like that? Well, there’s more! Every year in July you can assist to the Lavanda’s festival, where you can make lavanda’s flavoured drinks by yourself!

The medieval village of Perinaldo was built between the sea and the mountains, so its climate is perfect for dream holidays. Also, its great and unique panorama makes it a really good destination.

The town is really famous because Domenico Cassini, a very well known astronomer because of his researches on Saturn’s satellites, was born there.

The best places in Perinaldo are:

  • Sant Antonio’s church
  • The astronomic observatory
  • The “Museo Cassiniano”, built in honor of Domenico Cassini
  • Napoleon’s museum

One of the most exclusive ingredients is Perinaldo’s artichoke, that is used in various typical recipes like:

  • “Gnocchetti ai carciofi”, pasta made out of potatoes and artichokes
  • Artichoke’s salad
  • “Salsiccia con carciofi e fave”, sausage’s with artichokes and fava beans
  • Artichoke-based cake

Perinaldo’s best events are:

  • The artichoke and chestnut festival
  • The “festival-terre di confine”
  • “Agati in concerto”, an orchestra that goes all around Perinaldo

Pigna is a mountain village that is hidden in the Val Nervia. It is divided into two parts:

  • Pigna, the main area
  • Buggio, a small fraction

People think that the name of the town comes from the pinecones that you usually find all around the area, but the tradition states that it comes from the disposition of the houses.

Long time ago Pigna worked as a shelter for Ventimiglia’s nobility in case of attack. This made the village the center of many battles, and it was even submissed from Napoleone Bonaparte.

Pigna is the starting point for most of the excursions in the Val Nervia, for example you can visit:

  • “Rugli”’s cave
  • The “terra e memoria” museum

You can also find :

  • Various parts of history of Pigna
  • San Tommaso’s church’s ruins 
  • San Bernardo’s church paintings

A very unique and delicious legume is the “white bean”, that has a really nice and particular taste. Also, you can use this to make a very good “capra coi fagioli”.

Another typical dish that you can try during Winter is the “Gran Pistau”, a grain soup with leek

Rocchetta is also known as the “Fable’s village” because every summer there’s a marvelous festival dedicated to classic stories. This medieval town is sheltered from the north by the Alps and is also not so far from the sea, giving it a nice climate.

It’s surrounded by many little lakes, that give Rocchetta a magic and enchanted look.

The village was founded by Ventimiglia’s nobility in 1186, but after 2 centuries it was conquered by Piemonte’s royal family.

Rocchetta’s lakes are so much famous that tourists often come from every part of Liguria: diving and swimming in them is a must if you go to Rocchetta. Also, for the more adventurous, you can’t miss the canyoning tour.

Even in this litttle town you can find many restaurants that serve typical dishes. If you really want to live a unique experience, you must search for: 

  • The famous “croseti”, a kind of pasta
  • “Capra e fagioli”
  • “Ravioli alla rocchettina”, pasta with various herbes and the “pesigù”
  • Wild boar

If you want to see the Fables Festival, you need to come in August: Rocchetta becomes an enchanted world and it’s one of the events that people like most.

Seborga is the only village in Italia that is lead by a prince: it has its own rules and its own coin. Seborga’s panorama is unrivaled: you can clearly see Liguria’s sea, the Alps and even Montecarlo. It has a fantastic position and is always sunny, surrounded by mountains that protect it from the north’s cold wind.

The royal italian family once reigned over the town, but when all the other towns “evolved” and followed democracy, Seborga has been independent until today.

The town is full of things to do and to see. Some examples are the “Palazzo dei Monaci”, the “Zecca Seborghina”, the ancient prisons, the “Nostra Signora”’s cave and the very well known museum of the old musical instruments.

If you prefer a more traditional place to visit, then you can go to the San Martino’s church and San Bernardo’s one.

Some of the most renowned dishes in Seborga are the “coniglio alla seborghina”, olives and pine nuts, the “lumache alla seborghina”, “capra e fagioli” and the typical lamb with mushrooms. 

Every 20th of August you can participate to the incoronation of the new prince.

Vallebona it’s a medieval town where its seems that time has stopped: people have the same habits of the past, and the medieval look of the town remained untouched for all this time. 

Vallebona kept most of the original fortifications made in 1500 to protect the city from barbarians.

In Vallebona you can visit the historic distillery well known for the production of “acqua di fiori di arancio amaro”, orange-flavoured liquid that can be used as a cosmetic or as a liquor. 

Another interesting place in the town is San Lorenzo’s church thanks to its particular architecture. It even has a painting from the famous painter Giulio de Rossi.

The “acqua di fiori d’arancio” is commonly used to make sweets, for example: the “sospiri all’arancio”, the “anici”, the “bugie” which are a true delicacy, the amaretti biscuits and the “pandolce ligure”.

Other typical dishes are: the “ravioli di erbette conditi con ragù di coniglio”, pasta with herbes, tomato sauce and meat, typical fishes like “Trota” or “Luccio”.

Every summer it’s possible to participate in the festival of the “Ape in fiore”, where you can find motorcycles with flowers wherever you go.

CONCLUSION

Here we are at the end of this guide about 11 towns of Liguria that are not very famous but are absolutely unforgettable.

Thanks to these informations, you now know which towns to visit and what to see. These gems offer infinite possibilities for travellers which are searching for comfort and amazing panoramas.

What are you waiting for? Visit them all now!

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