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Ceriana - A Medieval Village and Day Trip from San Remo and the Italian Riviera

Ceriana, Liguria, Italy a Medieval Hilltop Village
Ceriana, Imperia, Italy

Ceriana Italy and Dolceacqua in
Liguria are perfect places to visit for a day trip from San Remo, or along the Italian Riviera, especially from the Riviera dei Fiori, or Flower Riviera in Italy.
 

How to get to Ceriana,Italy:

From the town of San Remo follow the lower coastal road heading towards Genoa. As you are almost out of town you will see the signs for Ceriana and Bajardo. The road splits here.

Take the road that is signposted for Ceriana on your left and start climbing up the hill, wending your way through coldframes and flower farms, olive groves, vinyards and finally chestnuts as you climb higher and higher.

Ceriana is 13 km from San Remo and that is why I say that it is a perfect side trip to take if you are staying on the Riviera dei Fiori. This gem of a medieval village is well-signposted and with just a small population of about 1300 inhabitants it is heartening to see so many young families living in the town.

This is one of the most ancient villages in the area and although it has a Medieval appearance, its beginnings were Roman when it was called Castrum Coelianae.

Evidence of the Romans in Ceriana, Liguria, Italy

To see the Roman influence go along Via Raffaele Doria where you will find Via Celio. Here you will go through the narrow Castrum Coelianae Gate between the Medieval houses that breaches the Roman wall.

Further up you will reach the peaceful square of Sant'Andrea. It is surrounded by flowering plants, sleeping cats and benches where you will also see the Church of Sant'Andrea. This is a Romanesque church built over the ruins of the Roman acropolis. As you enter the church look very carefully at the sandstone columns that mark the boundaries of the naves. These are the very same columns that were part of the Roman temple of Apollo.

Santo Spirito in Ceriana, Liguria, Italy

San Spirito, Ceriana, Liguria, Italy

From the Palazzo Roverizio, Via Maro Laura descends into the olive mill district, and one can then travel across the Ospedale bridge. Here is a rather interesting collection of buildings that is known collectively as Santo Spirito.

Santo Spirito is formed by 2 buildings and a ruin, which at the time of my visit was being restored. The Anitca Collegiala de San Pietro, the Oratorio di Santa Caterina and the Palazzo that looks out onto Piazza San Spirito. San Pietro is an elegant church of Romanesque origin that recent restoration has left white on the inside, with a beautiful Baroque altar and some ancient frescoes. The lintel of the side door was sculptured in 1513. The light stone and ivy-clad Nocetta bridge leads you back up the hill that brings you back to the town square through the Gate of Sorrow.

When you go through the Gate of Sorrow look for the gap near the door above, which would have been used in times past for pouring either boiling water or oil onto marauders who were trying to get into the walled village, during the times of the Barbary pirates.

Festivals of Ceriana, Liguria, Italy

Ceriana is famous for many culinary delights. It is especially famous for their own sausage that is made with a guarded secret. The sausage itself is only produced by three butchers of Ceriana according to ancient recipes that have been passed through the generations. The recipe's ingredients, however, are well known and consist of pork shoulder and belly, pepper and spices, encased in a natural caseing.  

A special festival is held on the 1st Sunday after Ferragosto (15th August) , where the sausage can be freely tasted.

Here you will find the Ceriana sausage cooked in red wine known locally as salsiccia al vino rosso, with Taggia olives and cloves of unpeeled garlic. You can also find another sausage dish which is cooked in a sauce called salsiccia al sugo. Another traditional dish is the paela serianansca, which consists of boiled and chopped chard, poached eggs and pecorino cheese with a ring of sausage around it.

The Holy Week of Easter is very important to those that live in Ceriana, Italy, with a number of festivals taking place during this time. On Thursday morning horns constructed by the local boys made out of chestnut bark are blown until Saturday.

A monumental 'tomb' is set up in the parish and during this week, with ancient states, thousands of flowers and wheat are displayed depicting a scene from the Passion of the Christ.

It is also at this time that the 4 distinct quarters of this village compete with their choirs from the 4 neighbourhoods.  They sing penitential chants before the 'tomb'.

On Friday, the long procession of the 4 neighbourhoods parade along the alleys and streets, accompanied by hooded penitents cracking long whips and little girls and boys of the village are dressed in white to represent angels and carry symbols of the Passion.

During the Easter Holy Weeks a local delicacy that is served is called frisciei, which basically are fritters. These are served on the Holy Thursday and Friday. You will find 3 different types of fritters to eat;  one made from beans and chard, the other made from salted dried cod and the last from apples.

Besides the Festival of the Holy Week in Ceriana, another important festival is the "Lunch with the Count" festival held on the 3rd Sunday in July. It is a gastronomic-cultural festival which includes songs, theatrical performances and music.  This festival follows the same route as the Good Friday procession and stops at the 4 squares or piazzas of the 4 neighbourhoods where the choirs called the Brotherhoods are based' Sant'Andrea, the Baroque Oratory of Santa Marta, the Oratory of the Visitazione and the Oratory of Santa Caterina.

Local Dishes from Ceriana Liguria, Italy

Local dishes include a meat jelly called zeraria, and a vegetable pie called a fugasa . This is a Swiss chard quiche and a tasty black pudding. The zeraria is eaten mostly in winter and is a substantial dish based on pork rind and meat boiled for hours in broth and then made into a jelly.

The
a fugasa , is made from a pastry of flour, water and oil with a filling of seasonal vegetables such as courgettes, peas, chard, pumpkin, eggs and Parmesan cheese.

Wines from Ceriana, Liguria, Italy

Local wines of Ceriana are grown on the terraced slopes that surround the village. Most of the wine produced here is a light red that is drunk young. However, there are also some growers who have now grown a delicious white grape variety called Vermentino. Look out too for some more noble reds such as Ormeasco and Ciliegiolo which is usually grown in the southern areas of Liguria.
 

Buying Local Products in Ceriana, Liguria, Italy

Because it is an olive oil producing area there are a number of outlets in the village selling olive oil. In fact as you approach the village from San Remo you cannot help but notice a huge olive oil factory tucked into the left hand corner on the outside of the village called Crespi and Sons. They have an outlet at 81 Corso Italia wher you can buy their products.

Another place of interest is Vane Fabrizio that sells Wild Flower and Chestnut Honey.

Also in Corso Italia, are 2 Sulumerias that sell sausages and local products. You can fine "Da Benedetta" at 126 Corso Italia, and "Giovanna e Angelo" at 231.

"Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life." ~ Anna Akhmatova


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