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The Valle Argentina

From the sandy beaches of Arma di Taggia, not far from Sanremo, there is a valley which climbs to the 2200 metres of Mount Saccarello and which the hand of man has transformed during the centuries, making it a cradle of breath-taking landscapes, water mills, Roman bridges, good food and old  legends. It is the Argentina Valley (or Oxentina Valley), from the name of the stream which crosses hundreds of terraces, shored up by dry walls and planted to unthinkable heights with thousands of olive trees. Here, the Taggiasca cultivar finds its ultimate expression: the oil of Taggia and Badalucco, Montalto and Carpasio has no rivals. An exceptional microclimate and a once hostile territory produce fascinating contradictions at every bend: from the typical white bean of Badalucco, a Slow Food product, to the slate quarries, the precious black stone, from the lavender plantations of Agaggio, in the Molini di Triora municipality area, to the mythical Erica Arborea briar pipes, shipped around the world by Domenico Giordano. A little further up, in Triora, they make a bread that cannot be found elsewhere and tales of witches evocatively hover by every front door. We are a few steps away from the territory of Brigue, straddled between Provençal France and the nearby province of Cuneo. This is where you can find the famous Brigasca sheep seasoned toma cheese, the way it was made in the past, and where the shepherds speak a dialect similar to the old Langue d’Oc.

The Valle Argentina can be crossed by following one of four itineraries (by car or motorbike): gastronomic, cultural, historical and panoramic. There are also three itineraries on foot or by mountain bike for trekking enthusiasts.

[Andrea Moggio]

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