The Beautiful Unknown Mountain Villages of Northern Italy

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In the Northwest corner of Italy lies a vast expanse of mountainous land that has not been affected by the tourist trade as much as Venice, Tuscany, Rome, and Amalfi. The untouched Province of Imperia in the Liguria region offers some interesting towns w

The Liguria Region includes much the land of the Italian Riviera.  Although it is not as popular as the nearby French Riviera, it offers some spectacular sightseeing opportunities without the tourist crowds.  While mountain towns, also known as perched villages, are very common in France, Italy has some of its own unique medieval mountain villages which have remained untouched for hundreds of years.

The Imperia Province’s largest city is San Remo.  It is most famous for its Casinos and the fact that it is the birth place of five card stud poker.  But if the casinos of the Riviera aren’t your thing, then rent a car and explore the mountainous country-side which resides just north of the beach.  Driving through the olive fields and vineyards to the little communes of the area provides a great day-trip for more adventurous explorers.  Some of the most beautiful perched villages are outlined in this article.


Driving up the SP64 from the highway and turning right onto the Strada Provinciale brings you to perhaps the perfect example of a medieval perched village.  Apricale really gives a new meaning to the term “untouched”.  Unlike its French counterparts, Apricale appears to have been abandoned by all but a few locals. 

The village appears to be precariously clinging to the mountain side.  Some buildings have even appeared to have collapsed down the mountain, while the rooms inside remain furnished with paintings and clothing. 

Parking near the town is pretty difficult.  The locals seem pretty uninviting, so be respectful when walking the medieval streets. 


Continuing on the Strada Provinciale you come to Bajardo.  The bullet holes in the town's sign remind you that you are stepping back in time to a wild west-like frontier of sorts, and should exercise caution and respect.  Bajardo lies at a higher altitude, and appears to be more confidently affixed to the top of a uniform mountain.  It is bigger than Apricale, and appears to have a lot more occupants.  Upon driving away from the town, you can look back at excellent views such as these. 

Noticeable are the winding road taken to access the town, as well as the snow-covered alps in the foreground, despite this photo being taken in late-spring. 


Taking the A10 further up the coast you come to Cervo.  Its location near the highway and coast makes it more frequented than the other villages.  However, despite its proximity to the water, it still remains a perched village by any definition.  From afar, it is a colorful outcropping that overlooks the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. 

Upon closer inspection it retains an old-world Italian charm with a beautiful church and square, and a faint bustle of old Italian men and woman going about their business.  This village is a little more accessible and tourist-friendly, and should not be missed en route to or from Monaco or Genoa.  

All the photos appearing in this article were taken by me.


Robert West
Posted on Mar 30, 2012
Matthew DiMaggio
Posted on Mar 14, 2012
Judith Barton
Posted on Mar 14, 2012