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Dolceacqua, the picturesque home of Rossese wine

From the Riviera of Flowers to the discovery of the Nervia Valley


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Where is


18035 Dolceacqua IM, Italia (77m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

From the coastal road between Bordighera and Ventimiglia, one ascends the valley of the Nervia stream first among cultivations of broom and mimosa, then olive groves and vineyards. Thus we come in sight of the village of Dolceacqua, overlooked by the Doria Castle. A closer look reveals its urban development: the medieval part, called Terra, is laid out in concentric circles and steep stairways at the foot of the manor; across the stream is the 15th-century expansion, the Borgo. Linking the two cores is a picturesque humpback bridge, 33 meters in a single span, which the Impressionist Monet had called "a jewel of lightness."

Why it is special

Wandering through the narrow streets of the village accompanied by stone houses is anout-of-time experience in a continuous presentation of exceptionally photogenic views. Then, crossing ancient thresholds, one is confronted with real treasures: as in the case of the baroque church of St. Anthony Abbot. Inside, in fact, one can admire a splendid 16th-century polyptych dedicated to St. Devote, a Corsican martyr who lived at the turn of the 3rd and 4th centuries. The large painting was donated to the church on the occasion of the marriage between Luca Doria of Dolceacqua and Francesca Grimaldi of Monaco, sanctioning the strong bond that still exists between the Ligurian village and the principality of Monte Carlo.

Not to be missed

The last Sunday of the month offers a nice excuse to get to Dolceacqua: the Antiques and Organic Market, which is divided between the two historic districts. In the Borgo, the stalls occupy the wide Piazza Garibaldi, on the riverfront; beyond the Ponte Vecchio, however, dealers enjoy a special setting, the colorful church of San'Antonio Abate, in Piazza Padre Giovanni Mauro. On the occasion, the municipality organizes guided tours of the Doria Castle and tastings of typical local products at the local headquarters of the Enoteca Regionale della Liguria.

A bit of history

Dolceacqua (m 51) gained importance in the Middle Ages as the first transit center on the route up the Nervia valley to the Colla di Langan pass (m 1127), beyond which the Valle Argentina descends to Triora (m 766). The village has been linked to the Doria family since 1257, and it is to them that it owes the construction of the castle, which has defended it several times against the aims of antagonistic lineages. More than the epic, however, is worth the oenology because the town is mentioned in ancient chronicles for its wine, Rossese, made from grapes imported in ancient times from Greece and planted on the dry stone terraces that accompany the valley.


By a bizarre form of counterpoise, a town named Dolceacqua derives notoriety from a wine, Rossese, a drink of ancient renown, praised by popes and emperors, ruby in color tending to garnet with aging, soft and characteristic for its scent of withered rose and subtle bitter streak. Production, which reached DOC status in 1972, spreads from Dolceacqua to the territory of the middle Nervia valley. In fact, it is the only red wine with a strong personality in Liguria, and it is characteristically used locally in cooking, to marinate meats, as the recipe for Ligurian-style rabbit with Taggiasca olives, for example, requires.

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Francesco Soletti

One of the small wonders of inland Liguria...across the stone bridge is a whole other dimension.