It is said that Dolceaqua is one of the nine most beautiful medieval towns in Italy. For me it was a pleasant surprise. Ofcourse, I had some kind of an idea what it would look like, but after I had rephotographed Kurt Hielscher's photos, we drowned into a labyrinth of narrow streets and imagined ourselves centuries back in time. Dolceaqua was only half an hour drive from Menton in France where we stayed for the night in our campervan early March 2022.
Approaching the old center at the other side of the Nervia river, gradually walking into Kurt Hielscher's photo from nearly a century ago.
Dolceaqua, 1925. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.
Dolceaqua, 4th of March 2022. Photo: Casper Molenaar.
With its characteristic church, castle and old bridge and narrow medieval streets.
The 1151 AD Dolceaqua Castle catches the eye as well as the 15th century built Sant'Antonio Abate with the medieval Terra neighborhood in between as seen from banks of the Nervia river at the Via Roma that have been raised in the meantime. And then there's the Ponte Vecchio, the Old Bridge, that spans the Nervia river with a 33 meters high arch. To be able to rephotograph the photos I gently asked to old men who were chatting to step aside a littlebit ending up chatting with them with hand and feet trying to nmake them clear I didn't want to be photographed with them. In 1884 the bridge was painted by Monet, who wrote ".... the place is magnificent, there's a bridge that is a jewel of lightness".
Dolceaqua, 1925. Photo: Kurt Hielscher
Dolceaqua, 4th of March 2022. Photo: Casper Molenaar
The old town of Dolceaqua is like a labyrinth. Here we found some air. We walked all the way up to its castle, a stroll to never forget.
View from the castle.
The 15th century Sant'Antonio Abate, the medieval Terra neighborhood in between as seen from banks of the Nervia river at the Via Roma that have been raised in the meantime.
Fontana del Rossese - Monument dedicated to Rossese, the local wine very famous and appreciated by connoisseurs. Made with a traditional barrel, placed next to the plaquette of the monument to Pier Vincenzo Mela, it contributes to reinforcing the farming tradition of the hinterland of the Nervia Valley. On site, I thought it was a memorial against violence, because of the text on the bench: no alla violenza sulla donne si al rispetto meaning "no to violence against women, yes to respect." But that's another monument I guess.
And this is the actual monument to Pier Vincenzo Mela, not only the plaquette referring to it. This monument to the oil mill, is dedicated to Pier Vincenzo Mela, the discoverer (18th century) of the olive pomace washing procedure that was later adopted throughout the Mediterranean basin. So we have three monuments in a row here.
Working on it.
Portrait by one of my sons.
During February and March 2022 we stayed in a house in Saint-Paul-en-Forêt in the Côte d'Azur, half an hour drive from Fréjus at the French coast, to live, meaning online working and homeschooling as we did during the whole of the pandemic till then for five weeks. During these five weeks we had the weekends and a week holidays to check out its surroundings and so we did. We used Menton as a base to go for a daytrip to Dolceaqua. If you really like the then&now photos, you should check this Facebookpage of solely Menton. A great job! And Menton is such a gem!
Hanging around in Menton.
Kim doing some painting of our house at our house in Saint-Paul-en-Forêt. We had a great time, though the reasobn was to escape our own because of extensive renovation works of our new neighbour.
Next to Dolceaqua and Menton, we also went to the Gorges du Verdon where we had a stunning sunrise after our lonely stay on the top during the night. We even had some snow during the evening.
And of course we went to beaches, made music, did some stand-up paddling, used the BBQ a lot, played jeu-de-boules, and visited some places besides Menton like Saint-Raphael and lots of villages.
View on nearby Bagnols-en-Forêt with the Chapelle Notre-Dame in the front.
But in the end we were there to also work and homeschooling.
Below: view on Dolceaqua. Photo: Casper Molenaar.