Dolceacqua village is a few kilometres inland from the Mediterranean coast, in the Nervia valley at the western end of Liguria (north-west Italy) and a short distance north of coastal Ventimiglia - so very close to the border with France.
With ancient stone houses on narrow paved alleys, an attractive humpback bridge over a scenic river and a castle overlooking the village Dolceacqua makes an enjoyable excursion from the Riviera di Ponente and the busy Ligurian coast.
Dolceacqua is also known for the olives which are grown in abundance in the region, the locally grown flowers, and a decent red wine called Rossese produced from grapes grown in the surrounding hills.
This attractive village is divide in two by the Nervia river, crossed by a 33 metre long humpbacked medieval bridge built in the 15th century - the span of the bridge is quite large, hence the requirement for such a dramatic 'hump'. It is this older part of the village, called Terra, that is of most interest to visitors.
The Terra district of Dolceacqua is squeezed into a small area between the river and the steep hills behind, and contains tall ancient houses, small courtyards, steep alleys and vaulted passages giving it a great deal of character - although it is small and doesn't take long to explore..
We also enjoyed browsing some of the many art galleries in the centre, and there are several shops where you can buy the highly reputed local olive oil.
Towering over the older part of Dolceacqua at the foot of the Rebuffao mountain is a medieval castle, with its facade and towers either side still continuing to dominate the village. The castle has been renovated in recent years.
Doria castle, as it is known, has its origins in the 12th century, with substantial fortifications added in the 14th century and the castle being transformed into a more comfortable residence during the renaissance period.
Damaged during fighting in the 18th century Wars of Succession and again by an earthquake in 1887, the abandoned castle is approached by the narrow cobbled lanes that meander up between the medieval houses that cover the hillside.
The newer part of the village, mostly dating from the 19th century and called Il Borgo, is on the other side of the bridge.
Near the bridge below Terra you can also see a 15th century church, renovated in baroque style and which has an attractively decorated interior. Be sure to cross the bridge and walk a short distance along the river for the view back across the town, with the bridge and river, and castle behind.
Interesting footnote: Monet came to Dolceacqua several times to paint pictures of the town's bridge, castle and houses.
The most visited places in western Liguria are along the coast and include, for example, Ventimiglia and the gardens of Villa Hanbury. Another interesting highlight a few kilometres east of here is the 'ghost village' at Bussana Vecchia.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Liguria guide.