& The Nervia Valley
The medieval village of Apricale is situated at 273 meters above sea level in the Nervia Valley in the Province of Liguria. The name Apricale derives from the Latin ‘Apricus’ which means exposed to the sun. But the main characteristic of Apricale, which has enchanted visitors for a long time, is the scenographic aspect of the village. A waterfall of antiquec stone houses on a hill, dominated at the top by its Castle. Apricale has about 650 inhabitants and in its glory days more than 2000. There are more people living in the village but a lot of them own second homes and stay here for a few weeks or months during the year.
The hills/mountains around us are about 1000/1200 meters high. The little river in the valley comes from Monte Bignone and is called Mandancio. From Apricus we have a view on Perinaldo at about 700 meters above sea level. Perinaldo is famous for its observatory. Giovanni Domenico Cassini lived here in the late 17th century and he was an astrologist who discovered the rings and satellites of the planet Saturn.
From Apricus it is just a 5 min. walk to the little church Santa Maria degli Angeli at the bottom of the village. This church has ‘freschi’ made between the 15th and the 18th century and restored between 1989.1990. In the vaulted ceiling, dievided in 4, you can see the saints Agostino, Ambrogio, Gerolamo,Gregorio Magno..
On the other side of the church we see the washbasins where the people went to do their laundry.
The village has conserved its structure and its medieval atmosphere and has been officially designated “One of the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy”. The network of little alleyways in the village called ‘carugi’ hasn’t been changed for the last 1000 years. The land around us is all terraced, supported by dry stonewalls. The terraces were used for agriculture. The first documents from Apricale as a village (statutes) are from 1267.You can see the original documents in the Castle, Castello della Lucertola.
In the statutes was a chapter about punishment. If someone was convicted of a homicide their house was destroyed and their goods given to the family of the victim. The killer was beheaded and the head was exposed as an example. You can see the house of the executioner (casa della boia) near the square.
There are still a few public ovens in town. The inhabitants prepared the dough for the bread at home baked it in one of the central ovens.
The entrances to the village were closed by wooden doors. There is one at the entrance of the square. There is also a hole on the left side of the door which was used to fire at uninvited guests.
The square is still the central meeting point for the inhabitants. In the summer it is a perfect place for outdoor dining in one of the two restaurants. Events taken place all year round. Christmas Eve around the bonfire, New Years eve, St. Valentine’s, Theatre in August and the Pansarole Festival in September. Dance evenings and concerts also take place during the summer season.
One of the rooms in the castle is dedicated to the most famous person in the history of Apricale. Cristina Anna Bellomo (1861-1904). She ended up at he court of the tsar in Russia just before the Russian Japanese conflict. She and her niece who she was travelling with both were feared as spies by both sides. . In the afternoon of 30 may 1904 Cristina was killed by her husband at the age of 43. The picture on the wall in the castle is of her niece Maria Pizzio, when she visited her aunt in St. Petersburg of the tsar.
Apricale has become an artistic centre in large part due to the vision and work of our good friend Daniele Noel who continues to bring exhibitions of famous artists to the village. There are regularly important art exhibitions in the castle, from Picasso to Folon from Miro to Louise Bourgeois etc.