Carpasio: Hiking Through History
Distance: 10 km | Time: 5-6 hours | Difficulty: Medium hard | Height gain: 425 m
This is a really lovely hike in the Argentina valley along the old borders of the then Republic of Genoa and the Piedmont Reign. We leave the car in the pretty village of Carpasio and walk to the top where the old chapel is. We cross the B-road and immerse ourselves in lovely woods on an old muletrack. This section is quite steep and will require a good level of fitness. The path carries on through the welcome shade of woodland and then peters out to grassland where we arrive at the proximity of a spring water site. We then carry on north-west and eventually arrive at Passo Caranche, situated at 962 m a.s.l. We then enter beautiful thick beech and hornbeam woodland and after a long pleasant descent we reach the tiny hamlet of Fontanili. Here the view is truly stunning of the valley around. There is a fountain and bench, ideal for a welcome break. From here we then take a steep muletrack directing us to the village of Glori.
Just before the village there is a sign marking the old border. We can take an optional short visit to Glori, and then turn left in the opposite direction where, after crossing a nice wooden bridge we arrive soon after to the pretty sanctuary of the Madonna of Lourdes: this is another lovely spot for a rest.
We then climb up a clearly defined path through lovely water features and rock formations, until we reach a fairly flat summit and take one of the paths that in about an hour will lead us back to Carpasio.
Please note that this is quite a strenuous walk with paths that at times will require clearing from overgrown vegetation, but has it's rewards with the peace and remoteness of the area.
The Alpine Trail
Distance: 9-11 km | Time: 5-6 hours | Difficulty: Medium hard | Height gain: 530m
This is by far the most beautiful trail in Liguria and one of the best in Europe, for the diversity of the Landscape, the beauty of the rocks, very comparable to the Dolomites, abundance of fauna, flora and history. The Alpine trail was hacked through the rocks in between the two World Wars. Our hike begins at Colle Melosa at approx 1600 m a.s.l. near the new refuge F. Allavena. A very well-run establishment, open all hours and offering food and accommodation should you want to extend your stay in this beautiful part of the Region. We take a sharp left turn at the Fontana Italo and start the defined trail. We will instantly notice extensiverhododendron plants which cover entire slopes and that in late spring provide a fantastic riot of colour. We then reach the connection to the Alpine trail itself. The trail has literally been hacked by hand through the steep rock, an amazing human feat. The route will take us through rock tunnels on exposed (but safe) ground, where beautiful dried stone walls support the steep descent. The deepest cave in the whole region is present, making the area an attraction for pot-holers.
The rock faces around us are very impressive: another source of interest for seasoned rock climbers. These limestone faces are very similar to the Dolomites in aspect, and not for nothing they are known as the "small Dolomites". Here we also have two excellent "Via Ferrata" routes of a very difficult grade and we can also include these in the itinerary for those keen on tackling them.
On our steep descent amongst spectacular views, we arrive at a lovely old fountain fed by cool spring water: wonderful refreshment on a hot day. We then reach the crux of the hike, arriving at the base of a deep and impressive gully called Gola dell'Incisa. To reach the top, a series of beautiful twisting tracks have been made, supported by dry stone walling built with the aid of the Region and the Alpine Club (some of it has been recently covered by a landslide). We reach the top with a height gain of some 100 m. Here we have a choice to take a left turn and include in the hike the summit of M.Toraggio at just less than 2000m a.s.l. (approx 1 hour extra) which joins this point again on a circular route. Having reached the top and turn left, we enter French territory and follow the north eastern side of Mount Pietravecchia: 2038 m. We walk trough a wood of larix and note again the low growing rhododendron shrubs and pick the wonderful sweet and juicy fruit of the wild raspberry bushes (August to September).
We then rapidly reach, on easy meadows, the Valletta Pass which will then take us down a lovely path to our original starting point. The beauty of this long trail is of course both from the spectacular panoramas and botanical aspects. The particular position of these mountains in an Alpine setting, but yet so close to the Mediterranean, have produced amazing endemism such as the spectacular flowering of the peony officinalis, unique to this area, and of the saxifrage lingulata. I have had the privilege to also spot chamois, marmot and many birds of prey such as falcon.
Viozene to Mount Mongioie (2630m)
Distance: 10-12 km | Time: 6 hours+ | Difficulty: Hard strenuous | Height Gain: 1345m
A truly spectacular high mountain trail starting in the pretty hamlet of Viozene with it's pretty wooden cabins and houses. A good bar- restaurant here where we can take time to relax before and after hike.
We start just after the village church and take the steep but easy (not exposed) trail up the mountain. Walking through shady woodland we reach after approx 30-40 mins a turn to the left that will quickly take us to the direction of the Mongioie
Refuge ( accommodation can be arranged here in the summer months if you prefer to stay in this pretty area) situated at 1500 m. We then take a steady hike north on well beaten and signposted track towards a plateau called: Piano dell'Olio at 2000 m. We then carry on with spectacular views of the deep valley below to eventually reach a col at the base of Mt.Mongioe called: Bocchino dell'Aseo. This area at 2300 m. was a passing through point for many traders and pilgrims that in the distant past used this route to Enter Liguria and the sea from Piedmont where we presently are. This is an excellent spot for a rest and a picnic plus a scenic area for photographs. We can then carry on if we feel more adventurous and fit to reach the summit of Mt.Mongioie via a steep and impressive gulley where good footwear and a steady head for heights is required. (easy scrambling) having reached the top after an approximate 80m gain, we then head left towards the summit which we can see directly in front of us some 300m above. The ascent is steep and steady but does not present technical problems. We reach an outcrop of rocks just before the summit, and can choose through a series of different routes easy or more demanding how to reach the top. Having arrived at summit where a large metal cross is placed, we can see the breathtaking views on a clear day that stretch south to the sea and north to the distant Alps. There is also a small booklet where comments and names can be put down as a record. We then turn back to rapidly descend to Viozene.
* Can also be done in the generally clear and pleasant days of Winter. Last section requires the possible use of crampons.
Quarzina - Pizzo d'Ormea (2480m)
Distance: 8-10 km | Time: 6-hours | Difficulty: Hard | Height gain: 1130m
Another spectacular high mountain trail starting from the hamlet of Quarzina at 1350m. We start on a path that zig zags it's way steadily up until we reach the symbolic chapel in memory of the Partisans in the World War II. Here at 1500 m we take a turning at the side which takes us up a series of gentle undulating meadows steadily and progressively up. May and June are wonderful times in this area to spot a beautiful wealth of wild flowers including the orchid. We carry on slowly gaining height, and after a series of grassy mounds and rests (steep but easy walking on grass) we reach a plateau where a large military dish is positioned. We can then decide if we want to reach the rocky summit at about 130 m above. Please note that this last section will require some previous scrambling skills and a head for heights is definitely required for some exposed sections. (no rope is necessary however) as we reach the top where a metal spike is positioned, the view on a clear day is just awesome. However unbelievable it may seem, on crystal clear winter days I have seen the distinctive feature of the Matterhorn from this point (hundreds of kilometers away) and the marvellous coastline of Corsica to the south. We slowly descend and make our way back on the gentle grassy slopes.
* Can also be done in Winter as above. Last section requires the use of crampons.
Monesi to Mt Saccarello (2200m)
Distance 8-10 km | Time: 5-6 hours | Difficulty: Medium Hard | Height Gain: 830m
A hike to the tallest mountain in Western Liguria. We start from the small ski resort of Monesi above 1300m. A series of gentle and sloping meadows will follow our route with pretty areas of woodland pine trees providing an impressive contrast to the lush meadows which abound with many species of wildflowers. The hike progresses through steeper meadows where traditional Alpine cows are often visible near the drinking troughs. We then arrive at the attractive Rifugio Sanremo at just over 2000m where a rest and lunch is welcome. Then we follow the well defined path and arrive after some 40 mins to the imposing statue of the Christ Redentor overlooking the distant sea below. Amazing views from here with Corsica well visible on crisp clear mornings in winter. A short walk takes us to the round summit at 2200m.
An ideal hike even in winter (crampons may be necessary for brief sections at top).
Portovenere To Punta Mesco, Cinque Terre
Distance: 35 km | Time 10 hr + | Difficulty: Strenuous | Height gain: 750m
A most spectacular traverse on the main ridge from one main promontory to the other. It follows the whole coastline below with immeasurable beauty and views. Please note this is a major hike requiring anything from 10 hours and beyond, with a distance of 35 km. Although incredibly rewarding, it requires a good level of endurance and fitness, allowing for unforeseen delays and possible camping. Much of the route is accessible to mountain bikes or horses. More details are available for serious participants. Note that this walk is in the Cinque Terre (Five Lands) region.
Alta Via Dei Monti Liguri - The Ultimate HikeDistance: 400km | Difficulty: Strenuous
This route follows well-marked pathways and dirt trails along the entire length of the Ligurian hillside range, from Ventimiglia near the French border, to La Spezia. Please visit this website for more details.