Pigna in the Parc Alpi Liguria is like no place you have visited before. It will take your breath away. This small hill town of covered pedestrian-only streets, situated on the right bank of the Nerva river, is flanked by tree-lined mountains and terraces of olive trees. The valley rises steeply on both sides, and away on the opposite slope, floating high above the valley like a fairy-castle, stands Castello Vittoria, like Pigna a medieval hill town. Such was the isolation of these towns until the 20th century,that although less than a mile apart as the crow flies, they each developed their own dialects - Pignasco in the case of Pigna, although Italian is now widely spoken. Pigna itself sits in the crook of a sheer wall of rock, in the middle of which is a high waterfall which is dry in the summer months but can be a raging torrent in the winter. The town winds up from the valley floor to the main piazza where the life of the town finds voice. Danielle's bar under the archway-entrance to the piazza does a brisk trade, especially during the summer months when the town's population is swelled by the influx of visitors. But, Pigna, because of its relative isolation at the head of the valley, doesn't suffer from the same tourist-overkill as it's more accessible neighbours down the valley, Dolceaqua and Ventimiglia on the coast. So, although it has some great places to eat and drink, and some decent accommodation, Pigna offers tranquility and a chance to relax and breathe deeply which is increasingly hard to find, especially in Europe. It is magical. If you are looking for a different experience, then try Pigna - you'll wish you'd discovered it sooner. Pigna is also a great base from which to explore the Parc Alpi Liguria which rises up to Monte Pietro Vecchio and Monte Torragio at over 2000 metres. You can explore the mountains along a high trail between refuges where you can eat and sleep. The refuge at Colli Melosa is one such, and is easily reached by road from Pigna. There are also opportunities for agri-turismo in the Nerva valley. Nadia's guest house in the heart of medieval Pigna is a great place to stay, and the rooms offer fantastic views across the valley.
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