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Monaco and Dolceacqua are “twinned” after being hand in hand for 500 years

On November 3, 2023, Monaco acquired a new sister city — Dolceacqua. The formal ceremony took place at the Monaco town hall’s wedding hall in Le Rocher. This event was attended by the Sovereign as well as Monégasque and Italian authorities, including the Mayor of Monaco, Georges Marsan and the Mayor of Dolceacqua, Fulvio Gazzola. HelloMonaco looked on with the spectators … all thrilled to be there. 

The charming town of Dolceacqua in the Italian province of Imperia, located just 35 kilometers away from the Principality, is famous for its wine, impressive 12th-century castle and scenic streets. In 1884, Claude Monet immmortalized its arched bridge, a masterpiece of lightness, in two of his paintings. The aim for the future is to have active “twinning” helped by the fact that many Monégasque residents have secondary homes in Dolceacqua, and there are employees from the Italian town who work in Monaco. Cultural heritage and common gastronomy are a feature of this lasting union. In this year alone, over 20 events have been organized between the two cities.

Monaco’s new sister city Dolceacqua hand in hand with Monaco for 500 years
Monaco-Dolceacqua twinning ceremony in Piazza Mauro de Dolceacqua @EdWright Images / Mairie de Monaco

The two mayors signed the twinning oath in the wedding hall in the presence of Prince Albert II and several Monégasque and Italian authorities. The Mayor of the Principality presented his Italian counterpart, Fulvio Gazzola, with a painting by Julien Spiewak, an artist who recently exhibited “Monaco-Dolceacqua 500” in both the Grand Apartments of the Palace and in Doria Castle in Dolceacqua. 

The artwork is a photograph, with only two copies in existence, meant to be displayed in the respective offices of the two mayors. It depicts the coat of arms of Monaco and Dolceacqua held by the two forearms of the mayors.

The twinning idea accelerated 3 years ago, on November 3, 2020, when the Mayor of Monaco, Georges Marsan, and the Mayor of Dolceacqua, Fulvio Gazzola, approached His Serene Highness Albert II with a petition for twinning their two cities. This day is highly symbolic: 500 years ago a loyalty pact for the Grimaldi dynasty was signed by the representatives of the Dolceacqua Marquisate.

Monaco’s new sister city Dolceacqua hand in hand with Monaco for 500 years
Italian and Monegasque officials around H.S.H. Prince Albert II, Mayors Georges Marsan and Fulvio Gazzola as well as official representatives @EdWright Images / Mairie de Monaco

Fruitful partnership

The Mayor of Dolceacqua, President of the Italian Association of the Grimaldi Historic Sites, firmly believes that the twinning will increase the popularity of his small town, since both the Principality and Prince Albert II enjoy a great international reputation. This kind of partnership helps reevaluate the past, inspiring new tourist projects. Cooperation with other municipalities naturally brings new knowledge and ideas.

Following the first official visit of Prince Albert II to Dolceacqua in 2013, the Monaco government sponsored the construction of a local bicycle track connecting the town to the sea. The Principality also provided precious documents contributing to the opening of a multimedia hall in the local Doria Castle. This place honouring historical connections between the castle owners and the Grimaldi family opened its doors for the very first time in 2016.

Nowadays, Prince Albert II is an honorary citizen of Dolceacqua. Fulvio Gazzola still remembers his father, Prince Rainier III, regularly visiting the town, occasionally accompanied by Princess Grace to order shirts from a local tailor.

Monaco’s new sister city Dolceacqua hand in hand with Monaco for 500 years
Planting a cutting from a century-old olive tree from Princess Antoinette Park on the Town Hall Square in Dolceacqua @EdWright Images / Mairie de Monaco


Back in 1491, Lord Luc Doria of Dolceacqua married Francesca Grimaldi, the younger sister of the Lord of Monaco. According to Fulvio Gazzola, this love marriage brought about a new family coat of arms, combining the Doria eagle and the Grimaldi diamond.
This coat of arms is still featured on the Doria Tomb in the Church of San Giorgio and certain portals in the historical city center.

In 1513, Francesca Grimaldi commissioned a polyptych in honour of St. Dévote, patroness of Monaco. The local church of St. Anthony still preciously guards this masterpiece by Ludovico Brea. Later in 1975, under Prince Rainier III, the Principality issued a stamp depicting this very Dolceacqua polyptych.

Exactly on November 3, 1523 , that’s five centuries ago, the syndics of the towns of Dolceacqua, Apricale, Isolabona, and Perinaldo swore loyalty to Augustin Grimaldi, the Lord of the Principality and the Bishop of Grasse.The ceremony, assisted by Bishop Augustin, took place in the Grimaldi Palace’s orange garden.

Celebratory Events

The 500th anniversary of historical ties is planned also to be honoured in spring by “Monaco – Dolceacqua 500”, an exhibition by Julien Spiewak. Held in the “Grands Appartments” of the Princely Palace it will be the first one after their restoration. The photographer’s “Corps de style” series feature a naked human body as a work of art alongside scenic canvases and furniture. Photographs by Julien Spiewak are part of permanent collections of the Parisian Museum of Hunting and Nature, the Parisian Museum of Romantic Life, the Art Museum of Rio de Janeiro, the Van Loon Museum in Amsterdam and the Arario Gallery in Seoul. The artist has also repeatedly exhibited at the Princely Palace of Monaco.

Monaco’s new sister city Dolceacqua hand in hand with Monaco for 500 years
L’orgue de l’Académie Rainier III offert par la Mairie de Monaco – concert, Chiesa di San Giorgio (Dolceacqua) @EdWright Images / Mairie de Monaco

Following the twinning ceremony, the procession of guests was officially received at the Palace by the princely couple, who were presented with the 2023 twinning act, the original 1523 oath, the commemorative historical work published to mark this anniversary, and the Monégasque postage stamp issued for the occasion.

In his speech, the Sovereign declared, “The day of November 3, 2023 will most certainly join November 3, 1523, among those memorable dates that are like lamps lit along the long path of our people’s history.” And he concluded, “I fervently hope to open today with you at least five more centuries of special relations.”

A second twinning signing ceremony took place in Dolceacqua, in the Church Square. The festivities continued in the Ligurian town with the presence of Monégasque and Italian delegations, as well as the local population. The next day Prince Albert II was set to visit Isolabona, Apricale, and Perinaldo, to unveil the signage indicating their membership in the Grimaldi historic sites network of Monaco and the plaque commemorating his visit.

Monaco’s new sister city Dolceacqua hand in hand with Monaco for 500 years
Students from Dolceacqua primary school present a small olive tree to Mayor Georges Marsan @EdWright Images / Mairie de Monaco

Italian Dolceacqua becomes the third sister city of Monaco (since 1958 the Principality is twinned with the Belgian city of Ostend, and since 2009 with the Corsican Lucciana). Religious, sports, culinary and cultural events honour this remarkable event crowned on November 3rd by the signing of the twinning decree.

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