Isolabona

Leaving the sea behind and turning into the Nervia Valley you enter a picturesque corner of western Liguria, sunny, rich in colors and varied in its characteristic scenery; you arrive at the small fortified village of Isolabona. It is situated at the confluence of the River Nervia and the Merdanzo stream. It is accessed via an original medieval arched bridge over the Nervia then trough an archway which leads to a small square where an octagonal stone fountain dated 1486 can be seen. The main street begins here and divides the village in two,going along its characteristic cobbled paths and lanes you arrive in Piazza Martiri were you find the parish church of Santa Maria Maddalena a baroque building with a central nave dated 1641. This 17th century building was almost certainly built on the site of a previous medieval structure. The adjoining Santa Croce Oratory was also built baroque style.

Passing the church buildings you reach the castle, built as a point of defense for road to Apricale, by the Doria Family who owned the village as far back as 1287. The construction of the castle was begun in an elevated position to the north of the built-up area using a local sandstone. It appears never to have been completed. It is irregular in shape with a quadrangular tower. The castle has been restored and converted into an openair theatre. Every summer it hosts the prestigious International Harp Festival, as well as other theatrical and musical performances. The most particular element of the village is its fresh unique fragrance of Basil, cultivated in the small vegetable gardens along the river, in plant pots and balconies, among the geraniums on window sills, even a vase proudly sitting on top of the fountain.

Out of the built up area, on the main road to Pigna, is the medieval Sanctuary of Nostra Signora delle Grazie (of which Grace Kelly was very devout). It is of great architectural importance much admired for its 17th century Doric Portico and its fine paintings by Giovanni Cambiaso (1495-1579) the intersecting vault is original and is decorated by a large fresco depicting the Tree of Jesse and the 17th century paintings on the walls portray the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. They were painted by anonymous local artist.

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