A small mountain village on the Colle San Bartolomeo Pass
The village located in the mountains offers an ideal starting point for hiking tours
A wonderful walk takes you to the sanctuary of the Beata Vergine delle Vigne, which dates from the late sixteenth century and is hidden away among the olive trees. It has undergone restorations on a number of occasions: its façade is embellished by a small portico and its interior preserves some remarkable eighteenth-century stucco work by F. M. Marvaldi and some frescoes by Francesco Carrega.
There is a local legend concerning the ancient origins of the sanctuary: the son of a mule driver went to a food storehouse without telling his father and stole a small statue of the Virgin Mary, which he then put into a wheat sack. They loaded the sack onto their mule but during their journey the mule stopped and refused to go on. The son told his father what was hidden in the sack and the father decided to put the statue back. He protected the statue by surrounding it with stones, and these stones were to be the first ones laid when the church of the Madonna delle Vigne was built. Only a few ruins can be seen of the eleventh-century church of San Michele.
Those inhabitants who have stayed on in the town work in the cultivation of vines and olives. There are some beautiful local excursions to be made by mountain bike or on foot, taking you through the olive groves and the lush vegetation. One of these paths takes you to Guardiabella. At the end of your day out in the country, you can taste an excellent dish called "burrida" accompanied by Vermentino and Pigato superior wine.
If you travel up from San Lazzaro Reale you come to the medieval hillside town of Caravonica. It was a feudal possession of the Ventimiglia aristocrats, who built a castle in the upper part of the town, and it later fell under the dominion of the Knights of Rhodes and the Knights of Malta. Among the various legends concerning the derivation of the town's name, one of the most plausible suggests that it is linked with the passage of mule-drawn caravans from nearby towns through Caravonica, which was the only road for carrying oil to Piedmont.
Caravonica is one of the villages in the province of Imperia which lies in the Liguria region. There are several other village s near Caravonica, for example: Cesio (7.3 km), Borgomaro (5.1 km) and Torria (10.6 km). When coming from the highway exit to Imperia Est, turn right onto the SS28 and drive past Pontedassio, then turn right towards Caravonica.