Photos: Two Roya Valley villages join Prince Albert’s Grimaldi heritage network

Piène-Haute and Olivetta San Michele, two villages astride the French-Italian border in the Roya Valley, have been welcomed into the Grimaldi Historic Sites network that traces the reach of Monaco’s dynastic family.  

After a recent trip to Calabria, Monaco’s Sovereign has been on the road again on a mission to admit new municipalities into the Grimaldi Historic Sites community, a network of more than 125 places across France and Italy that have historic links to the Grimaldi family.  


Prince Albert II of Monaco spent the morning of Monday 9th October in Piène-Haute, an Alpes-Maritimes village belonging to the commune of Breil-sur-Roya and found around an hour north of Monaco. There he unveiled a sign officially marking the commune as part of the network, before he set off to visit the Saint-Marc church. Prince Albert then took part in a ceremony in the town square, rubbing shoulders with locals, much to their delight.  

Piène-Haute’s history is long and curious. In 1500, King of France Louis XII named Jean II Grimaldi, the then-Lord of Monaco, as the Governor of Penna and Ventimiglia. This lasted until 1523, when his brother Lucien Grimaldi, who had assumed the title of Lord of Monaco, was assassinated by his nephew Barthélemy Doria, the Lord of Dolceacqua. 

In the years that followed, the third brother Augustin became Lord of Monaco and he seized, for a time, all of the Doria “fiefs”, including the previously lost Penna. 

In 1862, Penna was changed to the more Italian Piena, then in 1947, due to changes in the French-Italian border, the hamlet of Piena became Piène, and became attached to the commune of Breil-sur-Roya. 

Olivetta San Michele 

Later in the day, Prince Albert hopped over the border into Italy and to the pretty village of Olivetta San Michele. A sign officially designating the commune a member of the Grimaldi Historic Sites group was unveiled, and Monaco’s Prince met with local dignitaries and members of the public during a special reception held in his honour. 

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Photo credits: Palais Princier de Monaco / Michael Alesi / Rémy Masséglia