Italian Riviera eco village accommodation

Location:
Ventimiglia, Italian Riviera
Price:
From 47 - €57 per person per night
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All prices are per person HB (breakfast and dinner included) / person / night. Children up to 3 years old free of charge, children 3 - 12 pay 50%. SPECIAL LATE SUMMER DEAL! 30% discount on all rooms in September and October, minimum stay 5 nights.
Vouchers: not accepted
Reviews:
8 reviews4.5 star rating
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Italian Riviera eco village accommodation

Responsible travel: Italian Riviera eco village accommodation

Environment

This accommodation was designed and created by the Cultural Association in an abandoned medieval village to preserve it and bring it back to life. A community of 30 lives there, and residents have their regular meals together at the guesthouse. Daily life is ecologically mindful, respectful of nature, people and the environment.

The aim of our ecovillage is to restore the medieval village and make it a permanent cultural centre and the house of a community. Both aims have been reached.

Our best ecological practices are:

- Restoration of the buildings respecting the original historical character and using locally available material (stones) and ecologically friendly materials (natural lime, cork, sustainable timber)

- Use of low-temperature heating; solar panels (for heating and electricity)

- Use of permaculture and organic agriculture methods in farming (olive and fruit trees, gardens)

- Recycling of all food scraps for animal food (chickens and goats) or composting

- Recycling of paper, wood, plastic, glass through the town’s collections system

- Overall reduction in consumption, use of barter and exchange, informal car pooling scheme

We are also directly involved in the Ventimiglia Active Citizens Group, we are founders of the Cultural Association “Sanremo City of Peace and Human Rights”, and members of the DES (Distretto di Economia Solidale di Imperia).

Community

In terms of internal social practices, we created our own cooperative company that manages the guesthouse and presently employs 5 residents, 4 of which are women. Both the cooperative and the community meet regularly and make decisions by consensus.

The story of the provider of Italian Riviera eco village accommodation

We started our guesthouse as a non-profit organisation in 1989, with the aim of saving this beautiful village. During the course of the 20th century, Torri Superiore was gradually abandoned by all inhabitants and left to decay, becoming a ghost town. Its beautiful towers and productive terraces were almost completely deserted, falling into a state of ruin. In the early 1990s the Cultural Association began purchasing the village from its then-owners, with the aim of restoring it as an Ecovillage and creating homes and food for a new community of residents. We can now proudly say we made it!

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Italian Riviera eco village accommodation

You can trust responsibletravel.com reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays. In addition, we don't run these holidays ourselves - our only interest is giving you the best independent advice.


5 stars
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
4 stars
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
3 stars
Very enjoyable
2 stars
It was OK
1 star
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed 20 Jul 2010 by Dawn Austin Locke5 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The non-materialistic but grounded attitude of the eco-village's residents was inspiring and they were happy to include us in any aspect of their living. We had a wonderful trip to herd and milk the chamois goats on the mountainside which made me feel like 'Heidi'! The food was all home grown or locally sourced and freshly cooked by residents with generosity and care.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don't make too many/any plans for other visits away from Torre - we didn't leave once for 10 days because it was so magical.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Absolutely. There were good relationships with other local villages and the community had a very positive influence on all those we saw visiting it.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


We woke up every day ready for another day in paradise. It surpassed any holiday experience I have ever had or could possibly imagine.

Reviewed 15 Aug 2009 by Rob Stuart5 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


We weren't looking for excitement: after a frenetic year of working, studying and child-raising, we needed to seriously chill. This unique destination abundantly satisfied our needs and was entirely memorable. A few km north of the overdeveloped and traffic-infested coastal strip that is the Italian Riviera, just over the French border and within spitting distance of exclusive Monaco, an irregularly shaped bastion rises from a steep south-facing slope of the beautiful and tranquil Bevera valley – it is the eco-community. For about 50 euros per person per day you get simple but comfortable accommodation in one of the more than 100 chambers within this labyrinthine edifice. That includes breakfast and dinner. The unpretentious food and wine is healthy and delicious, and you can eat your fill.

The view from the windows and roof-top terraces are not spectacular, yet they are a sight for sore eyes – gentle and soothing. Ancient terraces mark the contours of the valley's verdant wooded slopes. Many have long since been abandoned; on others, olives, grapes and a variety of fruit and vegetables are grown, though the soil is fairly poor. The residents try to grow their own as much as possible, they have solar panels to heat the water, and they recycle their waste. To a large extent, however, they are dependent on income from paying guests, most of whom stay in the summer. A stone's throw down the valley huddles the bigger sister village of Torri Inferiore, with its bridge arching over the Bevera, its tower-like houses interconnected at ground level by cool cobbled alleyways resembling tunnels, and its surprisingly large and ornate church, whose bell always tolls the hour twice, as if to remind the sleepy village that 'tempus fugit'. Torri, however, stubbornly refuses to join the 21st century. Alleluia! The interested visitor can listen to an evening presentation by the affable Massimo, one of the longest-standing residents, on the history of the eco-community and the challenges it has faced – and overcome – since its ambitious yet precarious start in 1989. If he has time, Simon, an Australian resident who lives in splendid isolation in a small house he renovated further up the valley, and is trying to be as self-sufficient as possible, will explain the ins and outs of permaculture and the idiosyncrasies of donkeys.

You can go on beautiful walks up the Bevera valley to the steep-mountainside village of Collabassa, or further on to Airole and Olivetta San Michele. That gorgeous stretch of the valley is utterly deserted and dotted with villages abandoned nearly a century ago, where life must have been extremely tough. Everywhere, wild herbs such as sage and rosemary give fragrance to the air, which is alive with the incessant scraping of cicadas and crickets. The Bevera cuts through the valley base in sharp twists and turns; in many places it has sculpted the near vertical layers of sedimentary rock into bluish grey forms that would have inspired Dali. The river itself is crystal clear water from the foothills of the Ligurian Alps and is populated by abundant fish, frogs and even small snakes. A delightful 20-minute walk up the valley from the village on a meandering narrow path past a sheer cliff, blackberry bushes, olive groves, vegetable gardens and Simon’s house perched on a terraced hillside, and then along a gurgling irrigation channel restored by the eco-village’s residents, brings you to 'the swimming hole'. This is a little paradise where you can roast on the rocks before plunging into limpid pools and swimming through narrow, rocky clefts to explore a series of pools and small waterfalls, the first of which is a natural Jacuzzi. The music of the water mingling with the birdsong and the tireless cicadas is mesmerising. If you are mad enough to prefer the company of the massed bourgeoisie, you can go for a swim on Ventimiglia’s beaches, which are mostly pebbly, though there is one very narrow sandy beach at Calendri. Two valleys eastward you can explore the beautiful town of Dolceacqua with its ruined castle perched on a steep outcrop overlooking a bend in the Nervina river, or visit the beautiful village of Rochetta Nervina, with its cold blue stream that issues from a ravine before plunging over a waterfall and then winding its way through impressive rock formations and pools ideal for scrambling and bathing – another little paradise!

Back at the village, in the evening, hoards of frogs croak a wild rhythm from the cisterns used to irrigate the terraces directly beneath the building’s facade. Dogs howl like wolves. You sit on a roof-top terrace, savouring the local beer or vino rosso and craning your neck to gape at the constellations and Milky Way resplendent above. You converse lazily with the community’s relaxed and warm-hearted residents, get to know fellow guests, and hang out with volunteers and 'woofers' from around the world. If you dare, you can try out your broken Italian or join in a late-night jam session with guitars and hand-drums. What more could one possibly want from life?

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


a) Learn as much Italian as possible in advance, otherwise you may feel something of an outsider.
b) If you value peace and quiet, it may be advisable to book in the spring or autumn. During the peak summer period, guests arrive and leave every day, and the terrace is packed at breakfast and dinnertime. In the late autumn, when the nights are chilly, you can help with the olive harvest, which is said to be a great experience.
c) Do not hesitate to take your children. We took our 5-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter and they loved it! You can often leave them to their own devices, as this is a totally safe, nurturing environment: the residents love children, especially the relaxed and self-reliant variety. There is a little playroom and plenty to explore in the accommodation itself and the surrounding area. For town or city dwellers, this is a perfect opportunity to set your children free in a simple, inspiring, natural environment.
d) Do not hesitate to book. Once there, leave all your cares behind, chill out and enjoy!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We travelled down to Ventimiglia by high-speed electric train, which is probably the most environmentally friendly way to cover vast distances in a hurry. We didn’t use a car at all. The accommodation grows as much as possible of its food using eco-friendly permaculture techniques, though this only provides a small fraction of the total. It buys much of the rest from local producers in the valley. It does everything it realistically can to minimise its environmental footprint. There are plans to install photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity, but this requires a major investment. You can help by visiting the community as a paying guest, working there as a volunteer, woofing, or donating your hard-earned cash. You know it makes sense!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A perfect three-week break from my ‘normal’ city-dwelling, digitally dominated lifestyle. Ever since returning ‘home’, I have felt homesick for that special corner of Italy, with its subtlety inspiring nature, the superb starry nights and the wonderful people. This is said to be the world’s most beautiful eco-village; as far as I know, it is the only one to offer so much accommodation to paying guests. There is no division between residents and guests – to a large extent it feels like one big, open-hearted family. The residents are not fanatical in their attempt to live alternatively and be as self-reliant as possible; they are mature pragmatists with balanced viewpoints. I would recommend this accommodation to anyone who longs for the slow life. City dwellers unable to adapt to a simple, rustic environment and those seeking adventure and excitement are advised to go elsewhere. We will definitely return in the future, perhaps as volunteers.

Reviewed 20 Jun 2009 by David Bettoney4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The people and surroundings at Torri Superiore were absolutely wonderful.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


To some degree. I think that the income from "tourists" is used for thee continuing restoration.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Wonderful. The only downside is the dreadful road from Ventimiglia to Torri and the appalling standard of Italian driving.

Reviewed 22 Jul 2008 by Monica Barratt4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Being welcomed into this community. Going to the local swimming hole which was upstream in this very clear river in a completely natural setting, it was very beautiful and relaxing. The food was delicious, fresh and we enjoyed having all three meals taken care of for us.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Stay for a bit longer :)

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely as the food was sourced locally and often from the land we were living on, and the eco village provides a taste of a different kind of lifestyle which promotes environmental and ethical sustainability.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was one of the highlights of our trip so far!

Reviewed 27 Sep 2007 by Leyla Okhai5 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


I think it has to be the bus ride from Ventimiglia to Torri where the eco-village was. It was truly something you don't get to see everyday. The location was great too, we were at the foot of the Dolomites. Opening the window at night and being able to see the stars so clearly was breath taking.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It is handy to have a car, but we travelled all the way to Italy from London by train. I would recommend the train from Nice to Ventimiglia along the coast. Brilliant fun and what views.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, it was a self sustained community of people. You could see where the food you ate was being grown and we had fresh goat’s cheese from the goats there!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent! Delicious food, wonderful people, loads to see in the area.

Reviewed 22 Mar 2007 by Melissa Elliott5 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most memorable part of our holiday was the tranquility and beauty of the surroundings.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


To be more ecologically responsible, take the TGV train direct to Ventimiglia (only 6km bus ride from the village) rather than flying to Nice.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely. The community at the village is doing amazing work in the locality ecologically and socially. It is easy going and unpressurised there, but if you want to find out more, the community is extremely knowledgeable and friendly.

4. Any other comments?


It was absolutely amazing. Great food there and amazing walks.

Reviewed 13 Aug 2007 by Tim Reynolds4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The relaxing ambience of Torri and its very friendly and welcoming people are the main overall memory, but the highlight has to be swimming and exploring the river. The water and scenery were excellent and very few people even though it was mid-August. I liked our visit to the nearby Hanbury Gardens as well.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If you take a car be aware that the road to this accommodation is quite thin in places - but you can get there by public transport. The nearest coastal town (Ventimiglia) is a traffic bottleneck - especially on Friday when it holds a very big market. The market and the (old) town are worth a visit but take advice on when and how to visit. The train service along the coast is a good way of visiting other resorts if you want.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely a benefit for the local community and the eco-village is built around a low-carbon concept.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was great. Lucilla, Massimo and the rest of the crew were very friendly, meals were fantastic and we all had an excellent time. Even our 16-year old urban daughter who had expressed 'horror' that we were dragging her off to an eco-village for holiday admitted to really enjoying the week! We would really like to go again sometime - perhaps with some friends who enjoy hiking there is plenty of walking in the area that we didn't have time to get into.

Reviewed 18 Aug 2006 by Giuseppe Cloralio4 star rating

The main reason for choosing this accommodation was that they offered to prepare vegan meals for us (both my wife and myself are strict vegans and it can be quite difficult to find suitable holidays which also keep us away from cookers and dish-washing chores!).

I just wanted to let you know that we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and would recommend it to anyone with dietary needs or an interest in ecovillages. The accommodation was clean, the food was delicious with plenty of choices for vegetarians and vegans. The cooks really went out of their way to ensure we had plenty of different vegan dishes to eat during our stay.

Facilities were also excellent - internet access, a library and evening film projections were all available. And how wonderful eating outside on the terraces on those warm riviera evenings! Staff were relaxed, friendly and helpful - we immediately felt at home!

All in all a very pleasant surprise that exceeded our expectations. We will definitely go back.
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