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Apricale, always exposed to the sun

1. The town

The name 

Comes from apricus, i.e. sunny, exposed to the sun. Protected by the Maritime Alps, the village rises in a fortunate position between the woods at the far edge of Liguria on the French border, and has an excellent climate. 


•14th-13th cent. BC: in the Late Bronze Age there is already a settlement of Celts-Ligurians.

2. Sightseen 

The sinuous winding of the carugi and a castle filled with art.  

Apricale is unique. Picturesquely arranged around the small square, it has a stepped appearance, with the old stone buildings rising on several levels: thus it happens that the entrance is at the top floor, and you need to go down the stairs to get to the rest of the house.

3. Pleasure & Flavours

Local Products 

The Town of Olive Oil, Apricale is the land of the taggiasca, an olive that gives an extra virgin olive oil of exceptional quality.

Also available from local producers are olive pâté, pickled olives, pesto, acacia and chestnut honey.  

Local dishes

The typical menu from Apricale begins with an appetizer of stuffed vegetables (zucchini flowers, “greens pie,” sardenaira), followed by a first course of ravioli (filled with meat, borage or chard) or of tagliarini with pesto.For the main course, the choice is between roast leg of lamb, rabbit with olives cooked in Rossese wine, or wild boar with polenta.Typical desserts include pansarole and zabaione.  

 4. Events  

Village events  

Please see the village's web site: www.apricale.org

Apricale means poetry made in the streets, artist’s studios, a refuge for travellers who have found a delightful place for listening to the elves or owls in the woods. Claudio Nobbio, the “poet of Avrigue,” narrates the myths of Apricale in verse: the mysterious lizard who gives its name to the castle, found in the form of old rusty metal in the circle of stones of the Plain of the King where the king of the Celts had stayed; the “trumpeter of Apricale” John Martin, one of General Custer’s soldiers and the sole survivor of the massacre at Little Big Horn; the arrival of a number of Templars who had fled from Provence and hid in the tower.

“At night there could be stars / above the square in Avrigue / to help you find the way / of your thoughts”: the splendid piazza, with its Gothic fountain and stone seats, is the heart of the village, surrounded by an astonishing agglomeration of houses, tiny streets, stairs, buttresses, underpasses and gardens. Most beautiful of all is the network of the old carugi (Via Mazzini, Via Castello, Via Cavour), the narrow, winding, flagstone-paved streets connected by steep stairs.

Rising behind the square is the Oratory of San Bartolomeo, which has a beautiful Renaissance polyptych of the Madonna of the Snow (1544). Opposite the oratory is the Parochial Church, of medieval origin but almost entirely redone in the 19th century. Above stands the Castle of the Lizard, entirely restored and now used as a cultural center: it has a hanging garden and is surrounded – like the upper part of the village – by an impressive circuit of walls with three magnificent arched gates. One of the castle’s square towers was later transformed into the bell tower of the parochial church.

At the foot of the village is the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, with excellent Renaissance and Baroque frescoes and, just outside, the 13th-century Church of Sant’Antonio Abate, with a Baroque façade, and the ruins of San Pietro in Ento, a Romanesque church of Benedictine origin, the oldest church building in the area.

Apricale, however, does not scorn a touch of contemporary art: the bicycle on the bell tower, the murals on the walls of the carugi, the steel pages of the monument to books by Enzo Pazzagli and Claudio Nobbio.

Nobbio writes: “You pagan God who live here / you who control the pealing of the bells / you who rule the grass that grows / in the strips of terraces / of the hiddenmost Liguria / you who read in the eyes of the night foxes / What knight am I / that I have wasted so much time / before entering deep in the heart / of the valley of the Nervia".  

• 180 BC: first Roman camps in the Ventimiglia area.

• 10-9th cent. AD: the castle on the rock called Apricus is established in about 1000 by the counts of Ventimiglia, and one century later the town takes on its present form, with a first nucleus of houses and huts along the slopes of the rock.

• 1092: the first mention of the village of Apricale appears in a notarial deed, and it becomes a Commune in about 1200.

• 1267: the rural Statutes on parchment, recently restored, are the mark of distinction in the millenary history of Apricale. The laws they contain – a mixture of Roman and Germanic law – furnish a portrait of 13th-century life in the village. Every villager had to go to mass on Sundays and religious holidays, murderers are buried alive with their victims, and adulteresses decapitated.

• ca 1270: Apricale enters in the fief of the Doria of Dolceacqua and remains there for five centuries, with the brief interlude of the Grimaldi of Monaco in the 15th cent.

• 1491: a document refers to the “new square” which becomes the true center of the town.

• 17th cent.: the Commune is beset by serious economic difficulties, suffering the costs of war, frosts (1709), drought (1718), plague (1720) and famine (1735).

• 1795: during the Napoleonic period an administrator confiscates bells in the entire valley and prohibits processions, funeral processions, and the viaticum for the sick.

• 1815: Annexation to the Kingdom of Sardinia.