What to see in Dolceacqua: discovering the village




View of the village of Dolceacqua, with Ponte Vecchio and castle

Villages of Liguria

What to see in Dolceacqua: discovering the village




June 10, 2023

Nestled in the hills of Liguria, Dolceacqua presents itself as an authentic hidden treasure, ready to captivate visitors with its timeless charm.

Located in the province of Imperia, this picturesque village allows visitors to immerse themselves in an authentic atmosphere, to discover a destination that combines history, culture and stunning landscapes. With a strategic location along the Nervia valley, Dolceacqua is renowned not only for its famous castle and characteristic bridges, but also for its renowned Rossese di Dolceacqua wine production.

What to see in Dolceacqua? Let's explore the must-see attractions that make this village a truly unique place to visit.

How to get there

The village is only 60 km away from our Agriturismo Le Girandole (discover our vacation apartments in Diano Marina).

To reach Dolceacqua, you can take the A10 highway in the direction of Genoa. Take the exit at Bordighera and follow the signs for Ventimiglia. After Vallecrosia, take provincial road 64 and proceed for about 5 km until you reach Dolceacqua. A convenient parking option could be Piazza Giardino, located near the soccer fields.

The Castle of Dolceacqua

The Castle of Dolceacqua is a sure-fire destination for lovers of history and art. Once inside the castle, one can appreciate a magnificent view of Dolceacqua. Climbing the staircase to the top, one can admire the entire village and capture the beauty of the place both from outside the castle entrance and from inside its walls.

At the entrance to the castle of Dolceacqua

A visit to Dolceacqua Castle offers the opportunity to discover the history of the village and the connections between the castle and important figures such as the Doria family and Monet. Despite the vicissitudes and destruction suffered over the centuries, the castle continues to be a symbol of this charming Ligurian town.

The exterior of the castle of Dolceacqua

History

The history of the castle is fascinating and intertwined with that of the region. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the area remained isolated for several centuries until the Saracens settled at Frassineto in the Gulf of Saint Tropez. In the 10th century, they pillaged, destroyed and kidnapped along the Nervia Valley, controlling the Alpine passes. In 980, the counts of Provence, the counts of Ventimiglia, the Grimaldis, and other Ligurian and Provencal lords allied and defeated the Saracens.

The Benedictines contributed to the repopulation and reconstruction of the area, introducing olive cultivation and the terrace system. In 996, with the investiture of Conrad I, the seigniory of the counts of Ventimiglia was born, who became leading players in local border politics and rivals of Genoa until the 13th century.

To control the Nervia and Barbaira valleys, the counts of Ventimiglia had a castle built on high ground overlooking the Nervia stream. Around it rose the first houses of the village of Dolceacqua. The first document in which Dolceacqua is mentioned dates back to 1151, confirming that the monks of the abbey of Novalesa owned land in the area.

The castle suffered numerous sieges over the centuries, during the struggles between the counts of Ventimiglia and Genoa, which eventually prevailed. In 1267, Dolceacqua was purchased by Oberto Doria, a member of the Doria family, who maintained control of the castle until 1900.

The earthquake

The castle of Dolceacqua was severely damaged by the earthquake of 1887, which also affected other villages in the area, including Bussana Vecchia, Bajardo, and the Gulf of Diano territories. This led to the abandonment and partial destruction of the castle. However, thanks to restoration efforts, it has been possible to preserve its essence and features, allowing visitors to admire its skeleton and towers as well as explore its interior rooms.

The visit to the museum

Inside the castle, several rooms have been set up to house a museum.

The first room is dedicated to the history of the castle itself, providing an overview of the historical events that have marked its evolution over the centuries.

The second room is dedicated to the Doria family, which played a major role in the history of Dolceacqua and in the management of the castle.

Finally, one room is dedicated to Monet, the famous Impressionist painter who painted the famous picture "Le chateau de Dolceacqua." This work is now kept at the Marmottan Monet Museum, but the room in the castle offers the opportunity to admire a reproduction of it and to learn more about the relationship between Monet and Dolceacqua.

Inside the castle, there is also a modern open space glass room that is used for events, fairs or conferences, helping to make the castle not only a historical and cultural place, but also a meeting point for various events.

The interior of the castle of Dolceacqua

Hours and tickets

Opening hours are as follows: Monday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm. It is important to note that days and times may change, so it is advisable to check online for updated information.

The entrance fee is 6 euros.

For reservations for individual or group visits, you can contact Omnia Cooperative at 0184.229507.

The Visionarium Cinema

The Visionarium Cinema offers a unique cinematic experience. Located in the charming caruggi of the village, the small 3D cinema hall is decked out with posters promoting the documentaries screened, while umbrellas hanging along the way create a very special atmosphere.

The cost of a ticket to enter the Visionarium is only 3.50 euros. At the entrance, you will be given glasses for 3D viewing.

The projection room is surprisingly small, with only seven rows of seats and a maximum of five people per row. Despite the small size, the hall is simply wonderful.

What makes the experience extraordinary is not only the viewing of the film, but more importantly the special effects that engage all the senses, except for touch. One can experience water play on the stage, bursts of air that amplify certain visual effects, and even scents diffused according to the documentary scenes. It is a total sensory experience capable of engaging on an emotional level. Part of the scenes are also projected onto the vault of the hall, creating the feeling of being an integral part of the documentary itself.

In the adjacent room, you can admire beautiful wooden miniatures of Dolceacqua Castle and the village itself. Also on display are photographs of Dolceacqua from the late 19th century, as well as amphorae and other historical utensils, offering an interesting foray into local history.

The entrance to the 3d Visionarium cinema

Discovering the village

The village of Dolceacqua, located in the picturesque Val Nervia, is famous for its charming atmosphere and rich history. It is definitely worth spending some time exploring the village's characteristic caruggi, similar to those in Triora and Apricale . Here are some suggestions on what to see in the historic center of Dolceacqua.

Doria Palace

Proceeding to the main square of the village, you pass by Palazzo Doria, or della Camminata. It is an ancient palace of the Doria dynasty, dating back to the 17th century. Its recent renovation has uncovered its distinctive Gothic-style portico.

The facade of Palazzo Doria

Parish Church of St. Anthony Abbot

Next to the Palazzo Doria is the Parish Church of St. Anthony Abbot, seat of the parish of the same name of the vicariate of Bordighera and Nervia Valley of the Diocese of Ventimiglia-San Remo.

Facade of the Church of Sant'Antonio-Abate

Father G. Mauro Square

There are interesting details in and around the main square named after Father Giovanni Mauro. First, the millstone of an olive press, a symbol of the agricultural and olive-growing tradition of the Nervia Valley. Along with the oil, another treasure of Dolceacqua is definitely the wine. In the region, Rossese wine represents an excellence in local production: a small fountain has been dedicated to celebrate it, visible in the open air, though not drinkable.

The Rossese fountain in Padre G. Mauro square

The Old Bridge

A famous symbol of Dolceacqua is the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), which is exciting to observe both from below, from the two banks of the stream, with the castle in the background, and to walk across.

Walking along the beautiful Ponte Vecchio in Dolceacqua

About 33 meters long, it offers a striking image especially from the most recent part of the village, where the provincial highway passes. An iron frame along the walkway, facing the castle, recalls visitors to Monet's famous painting. Learn about the history of the bridge.

Ponte Vecchio, symbol of Dolceacqua

The Church of San Filippo

Next to the bridge is the tiny Church of San Filippo, dedicated to the saint Philip Neri. The church, which is private, was built in 1714 by Andrea Conrieri to house his family's burials. Despite its small size, the church is distinguished by its charming pink color typical of the Ligurian region.

Façade of the Church of San Filippo

 

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