01 January 2010

A Gem Just Over the Border

IN EVERY CORNER of the world there are little gems that seem to go unnoticed by the general public. Yesterday, on the final day of 2009, we found one of them in the small Italian village of Dolceacqua.

Now maybe we've simply missed it and we're just late in discovering this village; and considering it's only a few an hour from our house, a few kilometers over the border, between the mountains just north of Ventimiglia, that is always a possibility. But we're not going to shoulder much blame because we've never heard anyone talk about this village and -- as if to confirm our 'hidden gem' theory -- there is scarcely any information about it on the internet. But we decided to stop by the village on our way to San Remo (another favorite spot of ours) for some lunch. When we arrived we were stunned at the quaint charm and beauty of the town.

It's hard to explain the village, but let me try by saying this: eat your heart out St. Paul de Vence! And that's saying something. (OK, it's not that it's better than St. Paul, it's just more incredible in some ways).

To get to the old village you walk across a single-arch medieval bridge that is breathtaking. Then the fun begins: the vieux village is an incredible maze of narrow stone streets, some covered in a tunnel-like fashion, some slightly open to the sky above. All streets seem to head up! -- toward the ruins of the castle on the top of the hill. Each street is lined with art galleries, bed & breakfasts, private homes, and a few restaurants for good measure. We ate ate one in the village square and it was absolutely delightful.

Kerri's parents were with us yesterday and none of us have ever seen a village like this one. Ever! These photos won't do Dolceacqua justice, but they give you a feel for what the village is like. If you really pay attention you can almost imagine Patrick, Julia and I running through the streets ahead of the rest of the group pretending we're tracking down a dangerous criminal -- finger- guns drawn and everything. (OK, full disclosure: Patrick and Julia had their finger-guns out, I was using Henry's stroller as a makeshift M-16. And yes, I'm in my late 30s).

I can't say it enough: stunning! If you're close by give it a visit.


Charlotte K said...

When I see pictures of such lovely places the first thing I'm struck by is the absence of automobiles. Much of the world (including US where I live) would look much better if the cars all went somewhere else!

Happy New Year. I enjoy mainly lurking at your blog.

Anonymous said...

Dolceaqua is a very pretty village indeed!
on the other side of the border, you also have wonderful villages like Sainte Agnes, Roquebrune or Gorbio (among many others).

Bonne et heureuse année 2010 à tous!