10 Must See Ligurian Villages in Autumn
From West to East, 10 easily reachable autumnal villages starting from the coast to inland.
Beautiful in summer, charming in autumn: these are the villages of the Ligurian hinterland, immersed in forests of a thousand colours. We highly suggest these ten villages, from west to east, from Ventimiglia to Montemarcello. If you love photography, this is the best time to capture the nuances of autumn in Liguria.
From Ventimiglia, follow the course of the Nervia river towards Dolceacqua, the medieval village awarded with the ‘Bandiera Arancione’ (Orange Flag) that even enchanted famous artist, Monet. Follow its narrow alleys until you reach the top of the village up to the Doria Castle, amid craft shops and small souvenir stores: how enchanting! Taste the Rossese di Dolceacqua wine; you won’t forget it!
Continuing along the road, you will reach Apricale, another village awarded the ‘Bandiera Arancione’ and also classified as one of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.’ It suddenly appears around the curves, amidst leaves coloured by autumn, the sunny and towering village of Apricale, exposed to the sun among the mountains.
Park your car and take the brick path that ascends towards the main square of the village, passing by restaurants offering local gastronomic specialties and artisan shops where you’ll find finely crafted wooden, slate, and glass objects by local artists. The ancient stone walls here are adorned with numerous murals, truly fascinating. Did you bring your camera? Then unleash yourself in capturing the clicks!
Drive towards Pigna, ascending higher and higher towards the heart of the Ligurian Alps, always along the course of the Nervia. The nature in these parts is beautiful, but even more so in autumn; along the way, you will catch sight of Castelvittorio, a beautiful view.
Pigna is medieval, reserved, perched, with very suggestive stone alleys that disappear into arches and stairs. As you climb, you almost don’t notice the ascent because your eyes are captivated by the doors of the houses, by the details of the village. Here, you should buy the Pigna beans, a Slow Food management!
Colletta di Castelbianco
If you find yourself in the province of Savona, from Albenga along the provincial road, follow the course of the Neva river. After the village of Cisano sul Neva, at Martinetto, turn left and climb towards the Pennavaire valley up to the village of Colletta di Castelbianco. This is also one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy. Many know it as the telematic village.
The town was destroyed by an earthquake but was renovated at the end of the last century, becoming a scattered hotel. Here, all the houses are colourful, with azure windows framed in white. The houses and streets are made of ancient stone, while the interiors are modern, equipped with comfort and technology. It’s a must-see, very unique!
Heading back to Martinetto, take the SP 582 northwest towards another walled village with arcades and a castle, Zuccarello, which you can reach in fifteen minutes. This is the ancient Marquisate of Del Carretto, which has preserved its medieval appearance. The central street is lined with ancient arcades and pastel-coloured house walls adorned with beautiful ornamental plants and wooden barrels—a meticulously cared-for village.
It is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Don’t miss the Romanesque bridge over the Neva River, one of the most characteristic and well-known points of Zuccarello, made of ancient stone; sinuous and visually light. At the end of the main caruggio (narrow lane), you’ll find the other city gate, the Soprana gate: from here, moving your eyes towards the mountains, you can see Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, high up among the colourful leaves.
Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena
You ascend along the Provincial Road, curve after curve, and arrive at Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena. The sign at the entrance of the village reminds you that it is one of the ‘Bandiera Arancione’ villages and is also one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.
Here, peace and tranquility reign in the ancient stone alleys wrapped in colourful climbing ivy, which in autumn gives the village an incredible charm with its stairs, arches, and lanterns. It’s a perched village, surmounted by the grand Castle of Clavesana. Here too, the alleys are numerous, each one more beautiful than the other.
While still located in the province of Savona, enter the highway and exit at Albissola. Follow the signs to Sassello, this will stretch around 21km. Sassello was the first ‘Bandiera Arancione’ municipality in Liguria and Italy, the very first! It is very tranquil, a ‘human-sized’ village, with many small houses, noble palaces, and numerous churches and chapels that narrate and preserve the history of the village.
Here, you’ll notice the typical pastel-coloured houses of the Ligurian Riviera, a truly delightful discovery at an altitude of over 800 metres! It is part of the splendid Regional Natural Park of Beigua. If you love porcini mushrooms, you must come here in autumn, amid the splendid woods surrounding the village. But all year round, you’ll find the tasty amaretti di Sassello!
To the east, we recommend two villages with dual certification (Bandiera Arancione and Borgo più Bello d’Italia): Varese Ligure and Brugnato. Behind Sestri Levante, ascend the Val Petronio to Varese Ligure, the green heart of the Val di Vara, the Organic Valley in Liguria.
The visit is recommended in any season, but if you love colours, visit now! Here, you can purchase certified organic products from the valley at the Cooperative Casearia della Val di Vara. They are delicious; the meat and cheeses truly have a distinct flavour. Explore Varese Ligure, with its round village, very scenic.
From Varese Ligure, along the provincial road that runs along the Vara River, you descend to Brugnato, nestled in the natural setting of the Montemarcello-Magra Park. This small village is located on the banks of the Vara River, just behind the Cinque Terre. The village has a pincer shape, with typical Ligurian pastel-coloured houses. It is well-maintained and very beautiful to visit.
And finally, the last village we invite you to discover on this journey from West to East is Montemarcello di Ameglia, which is one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy. It is located in the Val di Magra, in the last stretch of Liguria before the border with Tuscany, in the homonymous natural park, about forty minutes from La Spezia.
From here, you can see the Gulf of La Spezia and the Apuan Alps; surrounded by lush nature, rich and diverse fauna, and often contrasting landscapes just a few kilometres away. With Roman origins that are still evident today in the orthogonal layout of its alleys, Montemarcello is a charming, tranquil village to explore on foot through its historic centre. It’s a picturesque village, perfect for photography!