More than a week ago, we were all geared up, van jam-packed, ready for the long haul to Hungary when, out of the blue, while driving for a practice run, the van’s gear box came crushing down to pieces! Luckily, the accident happened just few hundred meters to the nearest garage so we were able to drag it there, albeit with great struggle and mental shock for both H and I. Good thing that it happened in Menton on a bright sunny day so we had the chance to de-stress and de-shock on the sunny beach – amongst the lemon decorated streets as the Fete du Citron was ongoing – before catching the bus to home.
We have been on the waiting game since then, as the Italian mechanic would report that it is not easy to source the right parts and all that. So in the meantime, we have been making ourselves busy with house clearing and tidying up in-between visiting lovely villages and towns of the Italian Liguria.
“Le vie dei sapori e dei colori” (The routes of flavours and colours) is a booklet that I have been keeping as bible to all our Ligurian itineraries. It is about the 16 towns and villages of staggering beauty, colours and gastronomy located in the valleys of this beautiful region of Italy where the Mediterranean sea meets the mountains of the Alps. The beauty of all this is, they are just outside our doorstep with the farthest village not even one hour driving distance!
We have seen ten villages out of the sixteen – Dolceacqua, Apricale, Airole, Ventimiglia, etc. And on this post, I’d like to share with you the TENTH and the latest, which we visited last Sunday. It’s the village of Vallebona.
Vallebona is one of the oldest and most typical Ligurian village of 1,327 inhabitants in the province of Imperia. It takes its name from the fertile valley – Valley Good – where it was founded in the 12th century.
This is the entrance of the village, the arch is what is left of the access port built to defend the town. On closer look, one can still see the fissures which defenders used to pour boiling oil over the enemies.
This is the Oratorio della Natività di Maria dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, designed in the Baroque style by the architect Andrea Notari.
The village is characterized by long and steep narrow streets, arches and buttresses which were once used for defense.
I have to use the silhouette of H to show the height and width of these caruggi (alleys)
In recent years, the historic centre has been skilfully restored and brought back to its original charm. The cute narrow stairs on the right are obviously a last-minute but necessary addition!
The ancient fountain on the left seemingly serves as a strong support for a more modern stairs on the other side!
The natural rock forms part of the walls and ceilings of buildings and local stone is used as stairs and footpaths.
An ancient shop signage is still preserved, for the sale of (explosive) powder used in mining and hunting which was prevalent in the 19th century.
This meter wide alley has a name: Vico Monte Bello (Alley to the beautiful mountain)
My first impression of Vallebona was the abundance of Piaggio trucks of all shapes and forms! Where mules once tread through these ultra narrow and steep alleys, it’s now the glorious ape piaggio doing the work!
Vallebona is blessed with a good view of the sea and the hills teeming with flowers, olives, lemons and other Mediterranean vegetation, so it is only natural that everyone has to have his own terrace!
The viaduct in the far distance is the expressway that connects the south of France into the Italian motorway.
Before we left Vallebona, we had to try its equally glorious apperitivo!
With a glass of negroni above and some bites of dried sausage, chips, peanuts and Italian bread…this is truly the land of La Dolce Vita!