Day 5 - the big walk (Aaron Millar)
Day 5 - the big walk (Aaron Millar) 
Route summary
£895.00 (2014)
£910.00 (2015)
8 nights
8 B&B, 5 evening meals, 6 picnics
Luggage transfers between hotels
Medium - Hard
4-8 hrs
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Ligurian Hills (Italy)
Across the Apennines to the sea
Full Description

A self-guided hike from the Po valley along the Via del Sale (Salt Road) across the Ligurian Apenines to the Mediterranean - the Italian Riviera at Camogli.

 

THE LIGURIAN HILLS - an old Salt Route across the Apennines to the sea

 

Following the "Via del Sale" (Salt Road) from "Little Tuscany" or Oltrepo Pavese, this route travels across the foothills of the majestic Apennine chain in its westward extension from Pisa. This is bucolic Italy, fiercely proud of local traditions and in particular local food and wine. The first two days walking in this region is through vineyards and woods, to get you in trim for the next four days of high ridge walking, scene of Hannibal's march on Rome in 218 BC. From the historic valley town of Varzi on Night 3, you will climb swiftly above the 1000m mark and will stay there for much of the next four days, before tumbling down to the sea at the picturesque fishing port/resort of Camogli, about 30km west of the Cinque Terre and, we think, far more authentic and Italian.

 

This is a route for the seasoned walker - the views are tremendous but the days are quite long, unless you take our shortening options - not possible on Day 5 - it's all or nothing that day. Shorter (6- and 7-night) options are available, but we recommend spending an extra night at the start (take in historic Pavia with its ancient university, or the lovely monastery at Certosa di Pavia).

 

Walked by On Foot staff: Simon and Mary - Journalist Aaron Millar did it - see his photos here.


Highlights
  • The picturesque countryside of the Oltrepo Pavese  - "Little Tuscany"
  • Walk in the footsteps of Hannibal, Einstein, and Frank Sinatra's mother
  • Local wines and sophisticated home cooking
  • Varzi and its historic centre
  • Crossing the Ligurian Appenines
  • Your first glimpse of the blue Mediterranean
  • The harbour and beach at Camogli

WE RECOMMEND: An extra day at the start to visit Pavia or just to relax after your journey in Arabella's lovely villa (with pool), and extra nights at the end to explore the Ligurian coast and the Cinque Terre.

 

EATING AND DRINKING: Arabella at Villa Arabella goes for her own "Ravioli di Brasato con sugo di Brasato, followed by Coppa Arrosto (roast back of pork) (wine with this one Rosso Riserva DOC dell’ Oltrepò Pavese, of course) and finish with Tiramisu di Fragole or Panna Cotta - wine Moscato dell’Oltrepò Pavese)". Andrea at Boccapane (night 2), whose kitchen is locally famous, says "I am proud of my cured meats that I produce with my own pigs, which fit well with the Bonarda dell'Oltrepo. For main course, why not an old traditional dish of gnocchi with ricotta and spinach, that you could have with an aromatic white wine,  a local resling" (Italian Riesling is a treat ready to be sampled) ..."and then braised beef cheek, a dish forgotten, but unforgettable once tried, combined with a Red Oltrepo Reserva. I end with dessert, tarte tatin with a late-harvested Malvasia...".  Paolo at Capanne de Cosola, a remote restaurant on a high pass (Night 4) recommends "home-made pasta stuffed with mashed potatoes and topped with melted Montebore, a typical cheese of the Val Borbera. With this dish usually the best wine is the "Bonarda" wine produced in the Oltrepò Pavese."

 

For a glimpse of the culinary and oenological tradition in Oltrepò Pavese try this YouTube video - in Italian but the pictures are great.

Route map
Ligurian Hills (Italy) route map
Route designed by

Paul Lizioli, Eugenio Zambianchi and Guiseppe Stafforini.

 

Paul was in the pharmaceutical industry until he took the wise step of moving to the region 12 years ago. His wife, Arabella, runs the first night's gorgeous B&B. Eugenio, a retired geologist and mathematician, remains a consultant geohydrologist when not discovering and walking old Salt Routes, while Guiseppe, a qualified surveyor and director of the local Land Registry, is never happier than when walking the hills with his dog, Butch.