Discovering Val Prino: from Dolcedo to Lecchiore

View of the panorama of Dolcedo

Discovering the Ligurian Riviera

Discovering Val Prino: from Dolcedo to Lecchiore

December 01, 2020

Now that Liguria is back in the yellow zone, we can finally resume our inland trips. This time we want to offer you Val Prino, an area just a few kilometres from our flats in Diano Marina, where you can find some of the most charming villages in West Liguria. We will take you through olive groves, ancient oil mills and mills, crossing Dolcedo and its hamlets, to Lecchiore.

From the farmholidays to Dolcedo

Let's start from the farmholidays and walk along Via Aurelia to Imperia, reaching Piazza Dante in Oneglia. We continue as far as Porto Maurizio and at the Gastaldi gallery - which cuts through the Aurelia road internally, ending in Via Cascione - we proceed in the direction of the hamlet of Caramagna Ligure. At this point we take the provincial road near the Salita Bastera and after about 400 metres we find a crossroads. On the right we have the road to Vasia, while on the left the exit to Dolcedo. We take this last road, continuing along a false floor, and the first place we meet is the hamlet of Isolalunga.


Read also  -  A tour of Imperia and surroundings



It is a small town, a few meters from Dolcedo. We decide to make a short stop to go around the village's caruggi, where we are surprised by the ancient stone houses, with their tidy courtyards embellished with hedges and flowering plants. We don't miss the opportunity to admire also the two churches, really nice: the church of San Michele and the church of San Sebastiano, the latter with its red washed facade, where the sinopites of the ancient frescoes resist.

Detail of the church of San Sebastiano in the hamlet of Isolalunga


We leave Isolalunga and continue our journey towards the most famous village of Val Prino: Dolcedo. We take the provincial road on the upper part that leads us to Piazza San Carlo, the fulcrum where the main activities of the village gravitate. Every Sunday, for example, there is a well-known antique market. But here you will find above all the Loggia Comunale, that is the seat of the Town Hall. From the plaque on the elegant structure we can see that construction began in 1650, after Dolcedo obtained permission from the Republic of Genoa to emancipate itself from the control of Porto Maurizio (1613). This is where the market was held in ancient times, as evidenced by the two marble tanks with the coat of arms of Genoa, which were used to measure oil and wine.

The ancient tanks for measuring oil and wine

Through an arched door you enter the oldest part of Dolcedo. After having walked through some narrow alleys, we arrive in a pretty little square, where the church of San Tommaso stands out imposingly. Although of medieval origins, the building took on its Baroque appearance, with its rich polychrome stucco decorations and black stone columns, following the project of the architect Marvaldi, known above all for having built the Corallini church in Cervo.

The façade of the church of San Tommaso in Dolcedo

Continuing our walk through the historic village we cannot help but be amazed by the medieval architecture, with the houses overlooking the Prino stream and the bridges over it, like the one built by the Knights of Malta. From here we can also see the hamlet of Ripalta, above Dolcedo, which is also rich in suggestive views.

The view of the bridge of Dolcedo.

Over the bridge of the Knights of Malta

From San Paolo to Lecchiore

Leaving Dolcedo we head towards the highest area. The first place we meet is San Paolo, a small nucleus of stone houses with characteristic caruggi and covered vaults. At this point we take our moped and go up along the road that leads from Dolcedo to Lecchiore. At this point we cross the hamlet of Costa Carnara to finally reach the village of Castellazzo, where there is the oldest church in the valley, dedicated to Santa Maria (or dell'Annunziata). Although the façade preceded by a portico bears witness to a reconstruction in Baroque style, its Romanesque layout is evident in the apse and, above all, in the frieze set above the main entrance.

The frieze on the façade of the church of the Annunziata in Castellazzo

Bellissimi e Trincheri

Once past the hamlet of Castellazzo we continue in the direction of Bellissimi. The village is discovered at every corner of its historical alleys, where we admire not only the church of San Mauro and the civil buildings, but also its attempt to immerse ourselves in a complete artistic reality. On the walls we are greeted by the bright colours of contemporary murals, which blend wonderfully with the medieval context.

A mural at Bellissimi

At this point we find a bifurcation. On one side you reach Trincheri and the chapel of Santa Brigida, on the ridge between the Prino Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley; on the other side you go to the hamlet of Lecchiore, where the road stops to turn into a wood. We decide to continue immediately towards the chapel of Santa Brigida, an ancient religious building of medieval times, with an austere appearance and precisely for this reason fascinating, located at the foot of Mount Faudo.

The chapel of Saint Bridget in Trincheri


We then return to Bellissimi and proceed towards Lecchiore, the last village on our route. Here we visit the church of Sant'Agostino and its square, also going through the historical caruggi. Finally, following the indications of the sanctuary of Acquasanta, we venture into the woods for about 400 metres, through a path that leads to the famous lakes of Lecchiore. The water here is quite cold, but it is not rare, in the warmer season, to find bathers enjoying the fairytale atmosphere.

The little lakes in the wood of Lecchiore

We arrived at the end of the first part of our journey along Val Prino. In the next article we will continue the route, proceeding from Prelà and Villatalla.


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