Apricale is located in the Western Liguria, close to the French border. It is built on a steep slope of a mountain and it looks awesome from the distance. What is more, it is located very close to Dolceacqua. That’s why if you stay in this area you should see both these towns.
How to reach Apricale?
- by car – it is the most comfortable way
– A10 motorway – take a Ventimiglia motorway exit and then follow the road signs to Sanremo. When you leave Ventimiglia, follow the road signs to Dolceacqua by road SP 64. You pass Dolceacqua and follow the signs to Apricale. You reach the town in 10 minutes.
–provincial road – from Ventimiglia as I wrote above; from Sanremo: from town centre you follow the road signs to San Romolo, and then a provincial road SP 61 to Apricale – the whole trip takes about 1h.
- by bus – from Ventimiglia – line 7
Archeological sites in this area proved that a human hamlet existed here already in the Bronze age. However, the first written documents that mention Apricale come from the X century. In that period was built a local castle, Castello della Lucertola. Then, for about 4 ages Apricale, Dolceacqua and a nearby hamlet, Isolabona, were joined together in a sort of confederation. Then arrived a period of Savoys domination, and then the French domination and at the end the Unification of Italy.
In the XIII century in Apricale were issued the local statutes (they are the oldest, known statutes that were issued in Liguria). That rules organized the life in Apricale. They imposed taxes, laws and especially punishments. Those punishments were very strict and blistering. The grimmest were:
- decapitation, for an adultery
- hand or foot amputation, for a livestock theft
- entombment of (alive) killer with his victim in the same coffin, for a murder … (!!!)
What is more, the livestock was always guarded by the guards. In case of a theft, the guards were believed to be the thieves. That’s why they had to pay a compensation to the owners of the stolen animals. However, the guards had a possibility to defend themselves. It was called “the godly judgment” and it consisted of walking a short distance while holding a red-hot iron (!). If hands of the suspected guard hadn’t burned, he was considered innocent and he wasn’t obliged to pay the compensation …
Things to see & do
As a majority of the mountain hamlets in Liguria, Apricale has narrow caruggios and houses made from stones. It is not so popular with tourists and as Dolceacqua has no indications inside the old town. There is not many shops and even fewer places where to eat. Apricale seems to be stopped in the XIX century. This town is a labyrinth of narrow streets and oasis of calmness and beautiful views.
When you climb up, through the caruggios of Apricale, you will reach a main square of the town. It is called Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, and here you can find the biggest attraction of the town:
Castello della Lucertola (Lizard’s Castle)
Address: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele 3
May-June 3.00pm-7.00pm (closed on Mondays)
July-August 4.00pm- 7.00pm & 8.00pm-10.00pm (on Sundays opened also 10.30am-12.00pm)
Other months 2.00pm-6.00pm (closed on Mondays;on Sundays opened also 10.30am-12.00pm)
The castle was built in the X century. Inside you can see the statutes and 3 frescoes rooms. Before you enter you are given a sheet of paper where is explained the history of the castle (you can choose your language).
Festa dell’Olio Nuovo (The Feast of the New Olive Oil)
Apricale is surrounded by olive groves. In this part of Liguria, the most important kind of olives is olives taggiasche. They are used to produce very famous olive oil. And every year in November is organized the Feast of the New Olive Oil. In these days the sleepy and calm town becomes very lively and crowded. The local olive oil producers present their olives and their oil. Arrive also numerous artisans and artists and presents their handcrafts.
Torneo del pallone elastico (Championship of the elastic ball)
A game of elastic ball comes from the XIX century. In that period it was very popular in Liguria and in southern Piedmont. Nowadays, Apricale became the capital of this sport! Every year, on June, the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele becomes the field of this game. Here the teams from Liguria and Piedmont play their championship. It is really an amazing experience 🙂
E le stelle stanno a guardare… (And the stars are gazing at …)
Every August, (in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele) is organized an open-air theatre festival. The shows are organized every evening, for about 2 weeks. The festival is looked after by Teatro della Tosse, one of the most important theatres of Genoa. Entrance is free of charge.
Apricale is an authentic, tranquil, Ligurian hamlet. A perfect place for the responsible and sustainable tourism.