Apricale, Liguria, Italy - A Medieval Village for Artists and Sun Lovers

Apricale in Liguria, Italy is known as the "Place in the Sun", and is now a well-known village for its artistic inhabitants. It is a little hilltop village not far from the Italian Riviera, where it  can  be found 3 kms from Isolabona. Inhabited by about 570 souls, it clings to a steep ridge, houses supporting one another with slender buttresses and wide arched vaults about the narrow, covered alleys. Apricale is a gem of a village with its medieval architecture.

The village of Apricale has many artistic features that were painted in the 1960s and 1970s. You will see the many murals and paintings like the one in the picture above, depicting rural scenes and country life.  Apricale is also the village of cats. Because cars are banned in the village due to it's inaccessible alleys and walkways, the cats in Apricale have taken over, basking lazily in the summer sun, totally unperturbed and undisturbed.

The Town Square of Apricale: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II

Fountain in the town square of Apricale, Liguria The heart of Apricale is its town square or piazza.

It opens up unexpectedly, no matter from which direction it is approached from.

There is so much to see and take in from all angles that it is advisable to stay a while.

You can see lovely vistas past the village rooftops from here, looking further into the interior.

You can enjoy a bite to eat at several restaurants here, as well as see the lovely town hall, the public fountain (seen left) and the castle walls that are quite dominating on the one side. Don't forget, when stading in the piazza to look up and see the bicycle on the side of the steeple. More about that later!

The Piazza is where many of the village's festivals takes place. You cannot miss the covered loggia with the Renaissance style water troughts and taps, the Baroque Oratory of San Bartolemeo. Opposite the exposed stone archways support the upper square, called Torracca, that acts as the Church Square in front of the parish church.

Under the arches, as seen in the second picture below, or on the stone seats, the medieval consuls used to administer justice from here. A ramp goes up to the Parish Church of the Nativita di Maria, dating back to the late Middle Ages, but rebuilt after the earthquake of 1887.

Beside the church we can see the impressive walls of what remains of Doria Castle. With your back to the town hall, look up and you will see a spire that looks like another church, but is in fact the turret for the Lizard Castle (Castello della Lucertola). This castle dates back to 1092 when it belonged to the counts of Ventimiglia. Look for the bicyle here which is a piece of modern art placed there by Sergio Bianco in 2000.
One side of the Piazza in Apricale. See the bicycle on the steeple roof?

Main Piazza in Apricale

The Piazza from the other side showing the Parish Church of the Nativita di Maria, the water fountain under the arches and the lovely surrounding architecture.

Festivals in Apricale

The town square is also where most of the festivals take place throughout the year. During Christmas the loggia, fountains and other arches are festooned with Christmas lights and a Christmas tree takes pride at center stage. It is also the place for the Falo di Natale, the Christmas bonfire in Apricale that burns until Ephinay. The Festa dell' Olio Nuova (The Festival of the New Oil) ushers in an olive tree, and during the spring festival (Festa della Primavera) when a greasy pole is erected here.

When autumn starts, on the 1st Sunday after the 8th September, Apricale holds another festival, this one is the Festival of the Nativity of the Madonna. Here sweet fritters are served with hot eggnog. During this festival more than 100 kgs of sweet fritters are fried in a huge frying pan in more than 100 litres of olive oil. If you want to make these sweet fritters we have the recipe for you below.

A recipe for Sweet Fritters (Pansarole)

Italian Sweet Fritters - Pansarole     Ingredients:
   500 g flour

    1 egg
    1 envelope of vanilla flovoured yeast
    2 T sugar
     pinch salt
    2 T olive oil
Method: Pour the flour onto the pastry board and add the egg, sugar, salt, oil and yeast. Knead the mixture until you get a soft dough. Roll out into a layer, 2-3 mm thick. Cut the pastry into diamonds, triangles, squares or rectangles. Heat the oil in  a large frying pan. When hot deep fry. Remove when golden brown, place on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.  Dust with castor sugar and serve either hot or cold.

Regional Food in Apricale

Eating rabbit is very popular in this region where it is often cooked in the Ligurian style with olives and red wine. In ancient Apricale, they used to eat "Bruscau Rabbit" which was rabbit roasted on a spit. These days rabbit cooked the Ligurian way is more usual.

Here is a traditional recipe for rabbit for you from Apricale:


1 x rabbit (1200 gm)
1 x  onion, chopped
2 x cloves garlic, chopped
5 T olive oil
40 g stoned black olives (local olives are from Taggia)
1/2 glass red wine (local red wine is Dolcecaqua Rossese)
Herbs & Spices: rosemary, thyme, pepper

Cut up rabbit, wash and dry well. Place in a pan, preferably terracotta (where you have first fried the garlic), brown it lightly with the herbs for about 40 minutes. Then add the onion, salt and pepper.  Pour over the red wine and increase the heat until the wine starts to evaporate. Lower the heat and continue cooking for another 50 minutes. If the  pot starts to boil dry add some water to the pot. Fifteen minutes before serving, add the black olives.

For many centuries Apricale has been famous for its olive groves that yield a wonderfully sweet, fruity tasting oil that allows Apricale the esteemed position of being a member of the Associazione della Citta dell' Olio (The association of Oil Towns), that has a small membership of just 200 places where oil is produced in Italy.

How to get to Apricale:

Apricale is a great village to visit if you are staying near or at San Remo.

By Car: Take the autostrada dei Fiori A10 (Motorway) Genoa-Ventimiglia, exit at Bordighera if you are coming from the east, or at Ventimiglia if you are coming from the west. Follow the provincial road (Val Nervia S64). Once you get passed the village of Dolceacqua, there is a right turn at Isolabona that leads to Apricale (3km from the junction). The approach is fairly narrow in places so take care when driving and keep to your side of the road.

By Train: Genoa-Savona-Marseilles railway line. Get off at Ventimiglia station. There is a direct bus service to the villages of the Val Nervia and Apricale. However, it is a rural service that doesn't have many connections, especially over a weekend, so it is best to check this out with your local travel agent before you venture out.

Weather Apricale

Here is a detailed 15 day weather forecast for Apricale.

More information:

To get more information about Apricale, write to the
Apriale Town Hall
[email protected]


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