Out and about in the area
Camporosso or Ventimiglia are the closest beaches (about 5 miles away). Recently refurbished with a long promenade and imported sand and rocks, thanks to a massive European grant. The nearest beach is straight under the railway at the junction of the coast route with the the Nervia valley route. Go left at the round about for about a hundred yards then sharp right and down under the railway. If you walk along the beach to the right, cross the river Nervia, you will find the very last bit of Ventimiglia beach which is quite sandy.
There are lots of other spots to choose from, on the Italian side Bordighera around the station parking area is probably the prettiest, this is 8 miles from Apricale. Ospidaletti just around the next corner has a sandy beach. On the French side our favourite beaches are in Menton (with a shallow slope for little ones) which is about 10 miles away. You can avoid the crowds and park for free by choosing the first cove just as you pass through the border post and enter the town from the Italian side. We like to avoid the autostrada and take the coast road through Ventimiglia old town and the village of Latte. There are lots of little beaches and places to swim along this road, look for the parked cars. There is one narrow strip of sand with a bit of surf below old Ventimiglia. Climb down from the parking near the museum on the coast road or take the tunnel under the old town and walk to the right. This beach has a very shallow slope into the water, safe for youngsters! Menton has good gift shops and street life in the evenings with face painting, hair braiding, and buskers (one regular plays the bagpipes), ice cream stalls and beach trampolines. Don’t miss the fireworks if you are in apricale on Bastille Day!
You can also swim in the lovely river pools at Rocchetta. Turn right on your way down to Dolceacqua. Follow the footpath up stream behind the village and take your pick. There are 4 or 5 decent-sized pools, the further up you go, generally the less crowded they are. Bigger children will enjoy the rock climbing and water falls. Nice bars in the village do cool drinks, roast vegetables, salads, pizza which can be carried out ‘a fiume’.There are more pools near the first bend of the road up to Castel Vittorio.
Walking and biking
The area has a wide range of scenery to walk through; seacoast, mountains, woods and historic olive groves. Old footpaths snake their way through the wooded valleys and up and around the terraced hillsides, most of these are the old mule paths which were once the only roads linking villages and little churches. To get up onto the main alpine routes from Apricale take the panoramic route above the village, turn up near the little church where Vernunte is signed. From here any turning upwards will take you onto the ridge where you can pick up signs pointing to the main alpine walking routes.There are spectacular views from up here! The track from Pigna through Castelvittorio to Bajardo is one example of a main route, the is part of the longer Saorge – Pigna – Bajardo - Ceriana – Taggia trail. Strade San Pietro goes out to the ruined monastery of the same name then divides into three tracks, the higher of which climbs up to the ridge. Rochetta is linked to Isolabona, Apricale links up to Perinaldo which has paths down into Dolceacqua. There is a pathway from old town Ventimiglia along the coast to France. Fish from the coast and cheese from the slopes of mount Torraggio would have been traded along these routes. These pathways link with longer trails crisscrossing the mountains from France to Italy, old trading routes but they also provided connections between French and Italian resistance during World War 11.
The marked tracks around Apricale are part of and linked to the European Via Alpina system which connects countries, national parks and nature reserves across Europe. Average completion times and difficulty are marked on the signposts. Some have markers showing T for tourists, E for trekkers, EE for expert trekkers (experienced on rough tracks, mountain weather, steep slopes) and EEA for the fully equipped climber. There are detailed maps for walkers in both of our rental houses. All of the hilltop villages, such as Perinaldo and Baiardo have café/bars for snacks, lunch, wine, cold beer or coffee.
1. Climb up to the the road above the village often called the panoramic or 'tearo' route because it circles the village and is used for theatre parking in summer. If you turn left onto this panoramic, then take the first right marked Venunte you can climb high up above the village or if you follow the contours around the hill, over to San Pietro and you can go on to the ruined monastery or back on Strade San Pietro.
2. For a slightly shorter and much more level route you stay on the lpanoramic' Teatro road and walk until it meets Strada San Pietro at a lower point, from there walk down to the Favorita restaurant and back to the village.
Strada San Pietro is a steep climb from the village, but offers spectacular views over the Nervia valley and mountains. It divides just above the ruined monastery in two smaller tracks, both are pleasant walks, particularly in the early morning. The upper one continues as a rough road for several miles, the lower one meets a warren of small mule tracks which pass through overgrown chestnut groves, deserted rustic houses, wells and streams. Great places for fungi hunting in autumn and shady walking in summer.
4. The walk up to Perinaldo via the track which crosses the old arched bridge below café Apricus is rewarding. When you get to the top of the hill swing to the right on the road below the village of Perinaldo, without going into the centre, then follow the route over the ridge through the stations of the cross to the little church. Keep going until you find the second set of stations on the steep track down into Dolceacqua. The agriturismo mentioned earlier is on the ridge and signposted before you get to the stations and the church. The walk with lunch makes a lovely day out.5.
Shorter walks from Apricale include a one hour or so circular walk down over the little hump backed bridge below the café but round to the left to the church (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) hidden in the chestnut trees. And up to meet the Pigna road from whence back to Apricale. On this road you will see a little headstone commemorating the death of an Apricale man killed by German soldiers during the war. The little shrine is still well attended.
Nervia valley has produced some of Italy’s best cyclists. (you will see why when you experience how steep some of the hills are!) But once you are up on top of a hill you can stroll or ride along the ridges and enjoy the views. Roads and tracks in the upper part of the valley are quiet and the views spectacular. The principal cycling club is in Bordighera but there are many smaller ones. On a Sunday morning dozens of groups will come racing up the Nervia valley, stop for refreshments in Isolabona and fan out over the hills around Apricale. I like to see them chatting as they pass under our balcony in the village. I marvel at their ability to laugh and gossip after the long climb up from Isolabona. The mule tracks in the area are mostly accessible by mountain bike.