Bajardo: the ancient village between history and legend

Bajardo seen from far away

Discovering the Ligurian Riviera

Bajardo: the ancient village between history and legend

October 25, 2021

With this article we resume our column dedicated to the territory, hoping to intrigue the guests of the farmholidays and the readers of the blog.

Today we are going to Bajardo, a small village inland from Sanremo. This village every year fascinates thousands of tourists not only for the breathtaking landscape it offers, thanks to the view of the Maritime Alps, but especially for the myth that surrounds it. Here, in fact, Celtic populations lived in ancient times. Think that their priests, the famous druids, chose these places to celebrate their own mysterious cults.

The remains of the ancient parish church of Bajardo

Historical notes on Bajardo

The territory of Bajardo was well frequented in ancient times, so much so that different civilizations crossed and coexisted peacefully: Ligurians, Celts, Greeks and Iberians. Thanks to these contacts the cultivation of olive trees and vines was introduced, while a few centuries later we owe the Roman settlement, which changed the Celtic structure into the current fortress.

After the crisis of the Roman Empire, other populations, such as the Lombards and the Byzantines, fought over Bajardo, which also suffered many Saracen incursions. Later, the Counts of Ventimiglia subdued the village, soon handing it over to Genoa. Shortly afterwards, however, the Superba returned Bajardo to the counts of Ventimiglia who in their turn, in 1170, allied themselves with the Republic of Pisa.

Following an advantageous marriage, the territories of Bajardo passed under the Marquisate of Ceva. However, the interests of Genoa continued, to the point that in 1259 the village was definitively incorporated in the Republic and the community of Bajardo was involved in the war interests of Genoa, with the supply of wood for the construction of naval fleets.

With the collapse of Genoa, now in the eighteenth century, Bajardo was included in the canton of Castelfranco, within the Ligurian Republic, while during the First French Empire, was part of the canton of Perinaldo, within the Department of Maritime Alps.

With the Congress of Vienna in 1814, Bajardo became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, but it was in 1861 that it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. In this occasion Bajardo became part of the II Mandamento di Ceriana of the district of Sanremo, then province of Nice. Following the cession of the Nice territory to France, the ancient village passed to the province of Porto Maurizio.

The earthquake of Bajardo

On February 27, 1887 Bajardo experienced the tragedy that we still remember today. Many were the faithful gathered in the parish church of San Nicolò to attend the celebration of Ash Wednesday. At the first tremors of the earthquake the roof of the church collapsed, together with most of the houses of the town, causing 220 victims out of 1700 inhabitants. It was the municipality most affected by the earthquake that devastated western Liguria in 1887.

Sign that remembers the earthquake in Bajardo

How to get to Bajardo from the farmholidays

To get to Bajardo from our farmholidays, simply take the A10 motorway to Arma di Taggia, and then continue on the Aurelia Bis to the Valle Armea exit. Follow this road passing under the highway until you find a very steep path that, after passing some greenhouses, leads to the provincial road 55. After a few kilometers and some hairpin bends you arrive in Ceriana, another village that we will talk about later. This is perhaps the most beautiful stretch, where you enter a forest with so many trees that you can't avoid to take some pictures!

Landscape view on the road to Bajardo

After the wooded stretch you finally find the Ghimbegna pass, from which you can reach Badalucco on the right, in the Argentina Valley, and San Romolo, if you go left. From here on you can see Bajardo, in all its beauty.


Read also  -  Discovering Valle Argentina: from Glori to Molini di Triora


What to see in Bajardo

Once in Bajardo, leave the car or the motorcycle and continue on foot to discover this lovely village. Next to the small church of San Rocco there is a children's playground and a plaque dedicated to the fallen of the First and Second World War. Continuing uphill, on the right we see the town hall, while further on stands the new parish church of San Nicolò, the one built after the collapse caused by the earthquake of 1887. Further on we have the oratory of San Salvatore and at two meters the small square De Sonnaz, where we find the indications for the historical center of Bajardo.

The new parish church of Bajardo

Here there is no lack of information about the most fascinating part of the history of the village, with in-depth information about the famous druids of the Celtic civilization. The caruggi become narrower and uphill and, just before arriving to the old church of San Nicolò, we see a beautiful little garden dedicated to Bach flowers.

The entrance to the Bach flowers garden

After a short walk you reach the top of the village, where the remains of the old parish church are preserved. The appearance is similar to that of the church of Bussana Vecchia, but unlike the latter, here in Bajardo you can enter the interior and see up close what remains of the ancient building. In place of the floor today grows a lawn and, at the bottom, confined to the ground, stands a cross. Only a small side altar remains intact, while outside, on the vault of the portal, you can admire a wall painting depicting the Holy Spirit and several engravings on the stone capitals.

In this short video we see closely the remains of the ancient parish church of Bajardo, dedicated to San Nicolò and destroyed in the tragic earthquake of 1887. Entering from the entrance portal we observe what remains of the walls and altars.

From the top of Bajardo you can feel the charm of a village with an ancient history. Perhaps we will never know the details of the Celtic rites in these places but it seems easy to guess the reasons that led the Druids to elect this valley as a sacred place.

From the terrace you can enjoy a spectacular 360 degrees view of the Ligurian sea and the Maritime Alps: a magical place, not to be missed!

View from the terrace on the Ligurian Alps


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