Hi Frugalistas! When I was planning my recent trip to Europe I decided a stay on the French Riviera was in order. There was only one problem: it was school holidays and there was little accommodation that took my fancy in any of the places I wanted to stay. Imagine how thrilled I was to be contacted by Rachel from Liguria Holiday Homes offering me a stay in her beautiful 3 bedroom townhouse in Pigna, in the Cinque Valli just 20minutes from Ventimiglia. It seemed like a sign – I needed to go to Italy, not France. To my great joy, my dear friend KB was in Europe and was able to join me for the stay.
How to get to Pigna
Pigna is best reached by car (about 20 minutes from Ventimiglia), although there is also a bus service from Ventimiglia which takes about 50minutes.
There are limited shopping facilities in the village, so as you leave Ventimiglia (via a well signposted turn off) there is a Lidl supermarket on the right. Keep an eye out for the round about just near the autostrada and you will see the Lidl sign sticking up.
The drive up to into the hills is breathtaking and you will pass through a number of other villages that are well worth your time during your stay.
We parked in the main street and carried our bags the short distance up to the townhouse. There are a few steps, but they are not steep, so unless you have massive suitcases accessing the townhouse is easy.
The Liguria Holiday Homes townhouse
Rachel and her family have spent a year converting what she described as an “old shed” into a highly desirable, high spec, 5 star three bed townhouse.
The townhouse comfortably sleeps six and Rachel really has thought of everything.
The fully equipped kitchen, complete with European appliances, a proper coffee machine and dishwasher was probably our favorite room in the house. KB and I both loved the 19th century encaustic tiles that had been restored to their original glory.
Being Australian, and it still being spring we both appreciated the central heating and snuggly duvets in our double bedrooms.
But our spoiling didn’t end there…….
Our welcome pack included a lovely basket of local sweet and savoury treats, including a bottle of rossese wine from the nearby village of Dolceacqua. Because it was just past Easter, Rachel had included an Easter treat each.
When you are a blogger and people are hosting you, it’s common to be given a little extra special something to welcome you, so I was particularly pleased when Rachel told me she doesn’t do anything extra for bloggers – what was in our welcome pack was the standard Liguria Holiday Homes welcome. Except there was nothing standard about it. In the fridge we found juices, water, yoghurt, eggs and milk. And the kitchen cupboards held plenty of coffee, tea and condiments, including a local olive oil (whose premises we had passed on the way up to the village).
Just when we thought our 5 star experience couldn’t get any better we went and explored the bathroom – luxuriously soft towels, Jo Malone, Hugo Boss and Molton Brown soaps and lotions completed our 5 star welcome to Liguria. Rachel really had thought of everything, and her kindness and generosity really shone through.
What to do in Pigna
The Liguria Holiday Homes townhouse is so comfy and well appointed with televisions in every room, a great selection of DVDs and board games that you could be tempted to just stay inside and relax. But that would be such a shame.
We really enjoyed trying a number of the local restaurants in Pigna. Micky’s Bar became our go to place for breakfast – EUR4.40 for cappuccino and pastry for two. It was also fun to see what Mum and her daughter were preparing for the lunch menu.
Afternoon torte and coffee was on the terrace of Desir du Roy just across the road and for dinner we were treated like queens at Sul Ponte and La Terme. Our first dinner was especially fun – the big TV screen was up, the joint was jumping and the football game featuring Italian team Juventus was about to commence. The pizza was great, with a light as a feather crust, and the Aperol spritz was a princely EUR3.70. What was not to love?
At La Terme the EUR32 degustation was so enormous we committed that great Italian crime of not finishing our pasta……oh the shame….. All was forgiven when we ate all our main course and polished off our desserts.
There is, of course, far more to do than just eat and drink in Pigna, pretending to be a local. The village itself is gorgeous and we spent much of our time climbing up into its Medieval alleyways. We had no idea where we were most of the time, but that didn’t matter. Late in the afternoon mothers brought their children out to play. Elderly signore and signori took a stroll. Everybody, and I do mean everybody, wished us a cheery “bongiorno“. Pigna is that kind of place.
The other villages of the Cinque Valli region are also deserving of your attention. The walk to nearby Santavittoria to enjoy an even smaller village, and some stunning village views is well worth it. The larger and slightly more touristy town of Dolceacqua, with its own Ponte Vecchio makes another pleasant day trip from Pigna. Off the main road, the village of Apricale is officially designated one of the most beautiful villages of Italy.
We didn’t have a car, but still managed to get around the villages using the local bus service – we were routinely the only tourists on board.
We also managed day trips to the famous Ventimiglia Friday market, to San Remo and to Monaco by using the buses and local trains. Having said that a car is the best way to get around the Cinque Valli region, and will give you a lot more flexibility.
But then again, if you just wanted to hang around Pigna and bask in Rachel’s Jacuzzi bath, I wouldn’t blame you…….
What I think of Liguria Holiday Homes, Pigna
Rachel has done a magnificent job creating a tranquil, comfortable and welcoming accommodation in Pigna. After our stay, both KB and I felt like we “belonged” in Pigna. We were relaxed, happy and very sad to leave. We both loved the house and the area and I can’t wait to show you more in future posts.
Rachel is a warm and generous host. The townhouse is authentic where it needs to be, but has every modern convenience. I can’t recommend Liguria Holiday Homes enough for a cost effective stay in an undiscovered part of Italy.
What you need to know
I was a guest of Liguria Holiday Homes, but both KB and I genuinely fell in love with the house and the village. The house is available for rent, starting from GBP120/night.
Buses to Pigna run Monday to Saturday and are not frequent, so plan your days well or hire a car.
Streets in the villages are picturesque, but also quite steep with a lot of steps, so a good pair of walking shoes and a basic level of fitness are necessary.
Make sure you bring a healthy appetite as the local food is a real highlight.