Italy - Apricale

Driving from Triora to the coast and back

We decided that today (Tuesday) we would drive from Triora and visit some villages and work our way down to the coast and buy from more groceries.

Pam had a list of villages she wanted to see:

  • Castel Vittorio
  • Pigna
  • Apricale
  • Dolceacqua

We left Triora sometime after 10am and started our journey to Castel Vittorio – 28 km away but the TOMTOM said it would take 55 minutes. The road is very windey and narrow. We drove up a long way to a maximum of 1150 meters above sea level – Triora is at 750 meters above sea level.

The TOMTOM unit lost the road quite a few times and told us to go back but we ignored it and it found the road again – I think it did this about 6 times.

The winding road was overall quite good quality except at the top where the road surface was starting to have lots of holes. Some of the corners you had to toot your horn as you could not see if anyone was coming at all and the road was certainly 1 lane only in parts.

The mountains were covered in trees and it looked very nice while we drove along.

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We found Castel Vittorio at about 11:45am, it was a spectacular village as we drove up to it. We found the car park and parked the car. We were not sure what the signs were saying  in the car park and I had to translate using the Blackberry Translate application I have. Basically it said that if you park there on a Friday they will remove your car – so no problems for Tuesday.

We stopped at a bar and had a coffee sitting on the edge of the street – cost 1 EURO each.

We then walked up around the village and left after about 20 minutes.

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Castel Vittorio from a distance Pam having a coffee in Castel Vittorio The clock tower in Castel Vittorio
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A religious figure in a wall Pam in the alley From Castel Vittorio looking over Pigna
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Castel Vittorio Castel Vittorio Chris at the bottom of the clock tower

Pigna was only 5 km away from Castel Vittorio – but about 12 minutes driving, so we drove there.

The village looked great from a distance but we decided to just drive through when we got there.

Apricale was next after Pigna, 20 minutes and 10 km away. The road was actually quite good in parts here and we got there by early afternoon.

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Apricale from a distance A close-up of Apricale Apricale from the car park
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Art on the walls of the buildings in Apricale Art on the walls of the buildings in Apricale Art on the walls of the buildings in Apricale
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A piazza in Apricale A piazza in Apricale The main road in Apricale
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The wee jug is what my wine came in A view from Apricale The main road to Apricale
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A typical building The clock tower – a bicycle on the top? Not sure what the figures mean
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A nice scene A pathway to hoses a typical path

The village looked amazing perched on the hill top and this was one place we had thought about staying at.

We drove up and along the village edge until we found a car park. We parked up there and looked for somewhere to have lunch.

The first place we found was on the road we have driven on and had Pizza and Pasta and looked ok, the next place which was similar, but it smelt like diesel outside so we flagged that one, we then headed up to the village.

Some of the streets in the village stunk of cat piss.

There were a couple of restaurants we found but looked expensive – 30 EURO + for a full menu which is actually a lot of courses – but 30 EURO is about $80 NZD far to much for lunch each.

We wondered down to the first restaurant and settled in there. Pam ordered Ravioli with Fungi, and I ordered a dish of gnocchi with a cheese sauce. We ordered a bottle of water, and a 1/4 litre of wine for me.

The gnocchi was quite boring – no real flavour, and were like little bits of glue. Pam did not really like her pasta but it was a lot nicer than what I had. I did not think there was anything wrong with hers, and she had a nice sauce with it and the mushrooms were nice. The wine was so-so – quite light in colour and body. It was a local wine to the area – one I would keep away from – I did not note its name – house wine so it is never good.

So overall 22 EURO - $50 NZD for a pretty bland experience.

Back to the car and now off to Dolceacqua. It was only about 6 KM down the road. The road now got very good and generally two full lanes all the time. There were a lot of Tour buses when we arrived in the town. We saw the bridge (the main attraction) as we drove along and I guess after seeing a lot of other bridges and medieval villages it was a bit of a let down for me. There was no where to park so I continued on. The TOMTOM said to turn right so we did and found ourselves in a rather tiny road up on the side of the hill. It told us to turn left where there was no roads so we ended up doing a U-Turn and go back the way we arrived. I found a park but I could not leave the car so Pam went and checked out the bridge.

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We then wanted to find a supermarket to buy some food – there was one in a large town called Ventimiglia. We found that OK, but could not find the supermarket in the shopping centre. Pam asked and it was down below us. It was quite a drab type of place and a lot of the vegetables looked pretty sad.

We bought Tomatoes, and Onions, Tomato Paste, more Toast, Water, Tonic Water, and Wine – about 22 EURO.

After this time was getting on for 4pm.

We decided to head back to Triora via the coast until a town called Taggia were we go back inland, and up into the mountains again.

We travelled from Ventimiglia through Bordighera and onto Ospedaletti and into San Remo. It was now about 4:40pm so the roads was getting busy.

The TOMTOM said we should be back at Triora at 6pm but the roads were real slow. And they got worse.

We ended up in a queue of traffic that just did not seem to move at all. Over 30 minutes we moved 500 meters and the TOMTOM was now saying wee would not get home to 6:30, but this traffic was not moving. We assume there was an accident up ahead as this could not be rush hour traffic.

About now I had enough of this and did a U-Turn and got the TOMTOM to find an alterative route back.

It told me to turn right, I did, but it was not a road, more like a driveway, so we backed out of there and continued and let the TOMTOM find another route. This time it said to take a sharp right (very sharp – 3 point turn) and head up hill. We zigzagged up a hill in San Remo about 20 times and we were now about 200 meters above the sea. Again we were not sure if this was the correct way but continued on anyway. At the top there was a sign for the Autostrada so we were happy the TOMTOM was doing its job again.

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We got a new toll ticket and went onto the motorway, 130 kph is far better than sitting in traffic. We only drove for about 5 minutes and were told to exit the motorway (we has passed through 8 tunnels in that 5 minutes). The toll was 2 EURO.

We exited and headed for Taggia which is the same town we had came through on Saturday so we were now on familiar roads.

We passed close to a town called Badalucco and took a couple of snaps

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We got back to Triora and took the groceries and walked back up the hill and got back to the apartment at about 7pm so overall a long day.

I got some stats form the car for our trip:

Total Distance Travelled : 136 KM

Total Driving Time : 5 hours 35 minutes

I then cooked Pasta for dinner, had a nice wine with dinner which was a Primitivo  - quite full bodied for Italian wines – note to self – buy some when back in NZ

A day trip

We are planning a day trip from Triora to Apricale which is only about 40km by road. The town is perched on the side of a hill about 300 meters above sea level.




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