Valloria, near Imperia in western Liguria, has become known as ‘the village with painted doors’. Its center features more than 150 hand-decorated doors, each by a different artist.
Perched on a hill and surrounded by olive trees, in a peaceful location, Valloria is named after Vallis Aurea, or the golden valley, so called because of the harvesting of olives and production of the prized Ligurian olive oil. It is part of ‘Italy’s most beautiful villages’ network.
Painted subjects include women, landscapes, either sacred or daily scenes, dancers, fishermen, poets and musicians. These are all hand painted by Italian and International artists, who travel to Valloria every summer on the first weekend in July to embellish the doors of houses, stables, cellars, and even warehouses, giving a touch of color to the ancient medieval stone. The idea, born in 1994, was to revive the place, which risked dying down. There’s no map for the painted doors of Valloria: you just walk around, get lost in the alleys, or carruggi, as they’re called there, and find them.
Valloria is also home to the Museum of Forgotten Things, housed in the 16th-century Oratory of Santa Croce, where you can find old objects, especially related to the farmers’ life, now no longer in use. These belonged to the elderly of the village, things such as tools used for the cultivation of olive trees and the production of olive oil, plows, musical instruments, oil lamps, accessories for roasting coffee or grinding wheat.
As you walk in the historic center, find the three ancient fountains.
Just outside the center, you can take some walks. One leads to the church of San Giuseppe, from which you can admire a spectacular view of the valley; with clear weather, you could even see the profile of Corsica. Another relaxing walk takes you to see the olive trees up close.
How to get to Valloria: exit Imperia Ovest exit from the A10 Genova-Ventimiglia highway. Continue for about 15km towards Dolcedo and Prelà and follow directions for Valloria.