As I said quite a few times before, some of the most unique villages in Liguria are not by the sea.
Well, don’t misunderstand me, there are some true gems by the sea, like Varigotti, Camogli, Portovenere, Cinque Terre and many more, but the sheer uniqueness of some places inland is incomparable, in my opinion.
In a recent post of mine, I have shown you the scenic beauty of Verezzi, a little village perched above the sea near Savona. Today I want to take you a bit further away, to a village that has a truly unique character and an interesting history that mixes real facts and fascinating myths.
Triora seen from above
The place I am referring to is Triora, a little village (it has only 300 hundred inhabitants) near Sanremo. Actually, it would be fairer to say that it seems near Sanremo if you look it on the map, but it is not: it takes one hour of hairpin bends to get there. But don’t be scared: they are totally worth it.
What is fascinating for me is that you leave Sanremo and its bright seaside sunshine and start literally climbing up the hills to end up in a mountain-like location. Up there, on a hill, lies Triora, this tiny little village, and all around there are woods, nothing but woods (and some other very small villages scattered around). The scenery might not involve scenic views of the sea but it is truly unique, believe me.
a view of the old village
The village is undoubtedly difficult to reach but it is a very popular location, mainly because it is known as il paese delle streghe (the village of witches) and it hosts a very famous feast at Halloween and other similar events throughout the year. On such occasions, Triora is incredibly crowded but if you go there on a normal day, like I did, you’ll have the place more or less for yourself.
Triora is known as the village of witches, nowadays, because something very dark happened there in the past. Between 1587 and 1589, the village was the location of witch trials. In that period, Triora was suffering from a terrible famine, people were dying in numbers and residents became convinced that only the work of witches could have caused such a horrible event.
la Cabotina, the place where witched were said to gather and conjure
About 30 women were arrested by local authorities and were tortured to make them confess their evildoings. Some of them died of tortures even before the trial began and the whole process became so huge that it set off some sort of a witch hunt in neighboring places as well, for a couple of years at least. At least four women were burned at the stake in Triora and many others were imprisoned, but it’s not clear what happened to them afterwards.
The village has not forgotten its past and has actually turned it into a way to promote itself. If you are fascinated by witches, you’ll definitely find a lot of interesting things to visit there. There’s a museum, the Ethnographic and Witchcraft Museum, where all the history is told in detail with pieces of evidence from the trials as well.
one of the many fascinating doors
If you walk around the village, you can see the square where witches were burned, la Cabotina, the location where they were said to be gathering and conjuring, and many houses of the women accused and imprisoned. This is undoubtedly interesting and quite fascinating but I think that the real charm of Triora lies in something else.
What I liked the most while I was there was walking up and down its narrow and dark alleys and looking at the old houses and buildings. Only a few of them are restored and this gives a very genuine feeling to it all. Triora is not a polished place where everything is tidy and looks nice, it is just an old village, with ruins and scraped walls, and this enhances its charm.
a little square in the village
There is actually something else Triora is famous for and it’s bread. Il pane di Triora, Triora’s bread, is a trademark and there is only one place in town making it. So the first thing I did when I arrived there was buying a loaf of bread to bring home and I have to admit that his fame is deserved: it was delicious.
Triora lies in a very secluded location and one of the main activities is agriculture. Therefore, there are a lot of genuine food products there: awesome jam, olive oil, and other delicacies like some biscuits with aniseed which were so good that I am still thinking about them. One of the things I like the most when I go somewhere is to buy local products and this activity in Triora is really rewarding!
the quiet church of San Bernardino
Therefore, in case you happen to be somewhere near Sanremo, I’d recommend you to choose Triora for a day trip: it is unique and very Ligurian at the same time, it is somewhere secluded in the mountains but you can still somehow feel the Ligurian character there, it has a dark past but a very bright and lively present as well.