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Ligurian Hills

  • 8 Night Route

    Price From: £995
  • 7 Night Route

    Price From: £955
  • 6 Night Route

    Price From: £900
  • 5 Night Route

    Price From: £755

Across the Apennines to the sea

Back to Routes
A glimpse of the sea

A glimpse of the sea

The afternoon ahead

The afternoon ahead

Camogli beach church

Camogli beach church

Camogli

Camogli

Apennines

Apennines

Vines and village

Vines and village

Easy routes

Easy routes

Ligurian riviera

Ligurian riviera

Monte Castelluzo

Monte Castelluzo

Price: £995
Nights: 8
Grade:
Walk: 4½-7 hr/day
Max. party size: 10

Travellers Reviews

We enjoyed the feeling of being away from it all.

We only met a handful of people while we were walking. The views were tremendous especially when we were on the ridges and that made the effort of climbing worthwhile. We enjoyed staying in different places and meeting people who were generally very hospitable. We also enjoyed our "time-out" at the beginning and end of the tour. Pavia was well worth the visit. Then after the walk's end we toured the Portofino peninsula on one day and visited the Cinque Terre on the other - both very enjoyable.

David Wells, Surrey, September 2016

The places we stayed were fabulous – warm, friendly and each unique in their own way.

All were superb but Paul and Arabella were particularly welcoming and their cooking sublime. Capanne di Cosola put on the most amazing meal and the boys thought the meat cooked over the fire at Due Ponti heaven. A big thank you to everyone at every place who went the extra mile in dealing with the fact that 3 of us were gluten free.

Elizabeth Fisher (and Corin (13) and Arthur (11)), Oxford, August 2016

We wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed the walk in the Ligurian Hills.

It's our favourite so far! The scenery was spectacular and so were the meals at the end of the day. It was a real bonus that we had sunny, coolish days. What a beautiful part of Italy! I'm sure we'll never forget having our picnic in the middle of the huge field of narcissus in full bloom, or sharing the very narrow hillside path with a herd of 20 cows.

Susan Johnstone, Victoria BC, May 2016

More independent feedback
About the Route

At a glance

8 nights, (6 walking days - full route) including two at the end by the sea in Camogli. Additional nights possible in all accommodation.

How much walking?

Full days: 15-24km per day, 4½-7 hrs walking
Using shortening options: 10-17km per day, 2¼-5 hrs (using taxis)

Max. Grade:

From the high Apennines to the stunning Ligurian coast

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.  Shorter (5-7 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

REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit Aito.com.

Route Highlights

  • The picturesque countryside of the Oltrepo Pavese  – “Little Tuscany”
  • Walk in the footsteps of Hannibal and Frank Sinatra’s mother
  • Local wines and sophisticated home cooking
  • Varzi and its historic centre
  • Crossing the Ligurian Apennines
  • 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)”.  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.”

How much Walking?

Full days: 15-24km per day, 4½-7 hrs walking
Using shortening options: 10-17km per day, 2¼-5 hrs (using taxis)

Walking on paths and tracks, several steep sections after leaving Varzi. Paths are well marked. Highest point on route: 1,650m.

Medium-hard: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 634m (425m – 1210m) per day.

Medium: CUSs 422m (250m – 900m) using shortening options on Days 3-6

GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.

Important note: Times given for each day are  walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops.  “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb.  See “Walk Grading” for more information.

When to go?

The best months to walk: May, June, September

Other possible months: April, July, August, October

This is a route that is best walked after the snow has melted from the hills (still a possibility in May). May and June are lovely for flowers but June can start to be a little hot though height will ameliorate excessive temperatures. September can be busy, but October should be glorious, though with the risk of rain.

Start Dates

Recommended
Possible
Unavailable

Weather Chart

 

Temperature and rainfall chart for Varzi

Itinerary

About the Route

Day 1

Arrive in Mornico Losana (earliest check-in time is 14:00) and rest after your journey - in Arabella's lovely villa - maybe swim in the pool and certainly have a good dinner.

Day 2 - Mornico Losana to Fortunago

From your first night’s accommodation today’s lung expanding walk takes you through the bucolic vineyards and meadows of the Oltrepo, past Montalto castle, and through the lively centre of Montalto Pavese (shops and cafés for those wishing to practise their Italian). From here, the views become more expansive, as you dip back down into the valley of the Ghiaia di Montalto and up again (yes) to the ridge. A lovely, if switchbacking end to your walk takes you off the ridge and through the lovely villages of Fortunago, where you should linger, as this is one of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia”. (Hard: 4½ hrs, 17½ km, CUSs 850m). Alternatives: From Montalto (if you are staying there) the walk is 5km shorter and the first climb is already done for you – if staying at Villa Arabella ask for a lift to Montalto (Medium: 3½ hrs, 13km, CUSs 600m). Or miss the walk completely by hitching a lift with the luggage (ask your host).

Day 3 - Fortunago to Varzi

The day starts with a quiet stretch of asphalt before rejoining the ridge, with the last views of the Oltrepó. Leave the open at the “Cross on the col” and then track through beech woods along the ridge top of M. Bruno to the castle at Oramala, before descending to the old town of Varzi in the valley. Your next day’s walking rears up ahead of you! (Medium-hard: 4¾  hrs, 20km, CUSs 650m) Alternatives: Arrange a ride with the luggage courtesy of our excellent host, as far as the Cross. (Easy: 2¾ hrs, 10km, CUS 225m)

Day 4 - Varzi to Capanne di Cosola

Start with a sustained climb up to Castellaro (you can ride with the luggage along this section if you prefer), then up the valley of the Fosso. Climbing steeply up through beech woods, you reach the main ridge just before Monte Bogleglio. Then – a long and sometimes dramatic ridge walk, with a possible bagging of Monte Chiappo at the end before your next night’s excellent meal at the mountain lodge at Capanne di Cosola. (Hard: 7 hrs, 21 km, CUSs 1210m). Alternative: ride with the luggage to Castellaro, saving 2 hrs and 350m of ascent.

Day 5 - Capanne di Cosola to Due Ponti

This is the majestic day. 14 km of high walking, culminating in the meadows which surround Monte Cavalla and views for ever.  From here you will be following the old road down (now abandoned except for foresters and walkers) for 6 km  to the valley floor, to your comfortable accommodation at the hamlet of Due Ponti. (Medium-hard: 6¾ hrs, 20km, CUSs 550m) Alternative – two easier shortening options (14 km and 18km), or ride all the way with the luggage.

Day 6 - Buffalora to Calcinara

This gorgeous walk seeks to do the impossible. After a short transfer, climb (gently) up to Monte Lavagnola; the climbing is then all but done and the rest of the walk consists of high contouring – maintaining the same level but with the most stupendous views of a much more cultured landscape than the day before – wooded valleys, small farms and villages. And you even get not one, but two, potential pit stops at good bar-restaurants. Your final walk into Calcinara will be rewarded by great friendliness, good food and drink – and almost no English!  (Medium: 6 hrs, 19 km, 490m CUSs). Alternatives: Shorten to 2½ hrs or 4 hrs (with lifts).

Day 7 - Calcinara to Camogli

A wonderful final day – you continue along the ridge eastwards, then southwards to the coast at Camogli. Again the views will never let you down, and the final mountain spur before the end, with the sea on each side, will be much photographed. Your hotels in Camogli are all welcoming, whatever grade you have opted for. (Medium-hard: 5 hrs, 15 km, 430m CUSs). Alternatives:  None except to ask Fausto’s uncle for a lift with the luggage.

Day 8 - Free day in Camogli

Do a bit of free coastal walking to San Fruttuoso’s idyllic car-free bay, or to Portofino, take a trip on the coastal ferry, take the train to the Cinque Terre (1½ hrs) for some station-to-station walking – or just relax!

Departure day

Return home – or why not stay a day or two longer?

Travel Information

ARRIVING BY AIR

The best airports are Genoa, Milan (Linate, Malpensa and Bergamo), and Pisa. Flights also possible via Turin.

Land By: 16:00 (Pisa 14:30 and Milan by 15:00 so as not to miss supper) for public transport connections to Voghera.

Return flight earliest: 12:00 (Genoa), 13:00 (Pisa), 15:00 (Milan airports) for train connections from Camogli (see transfer information below).

Land by/earliest return times not applicable if using pre-booked taxi.

Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.

For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.

See “getting to the start of the walk” below for transfer information.

ARRIVING BY TRAIN

Nearest railway stations:

Start: Voghera
Finish:  Camogli

 

Getting to the start of the walk

The first accommodation is normally in Mornico Losana, though the 5-night version starts in Varzi. The last hotel is in Camogli. Transfer times and methods are suggested for the three Milan airports, Genoa and Pisa. For train arrival transfers see below.

Please note that the earliest check-in time at Mornico Losana (Villa Arabella) is 14:00.

Outwards:  Bus/Train then either short taxi (Mornico Losana) or bus or taxi (Varzi) – Milan airports or Genoa  2½ hrs, Pisa 4 hrs, OR Pre-bookable taxi transfer from airport to first hotel

Return: Train then Airport bus – Genoa airport 2 hrs, Milan airports 5 hours, Pisa airport 3 hrs

Transfers from train stations:

Outwards: From Voghera station pre-bookable taxi to Mornico Losana,public bus or pre-bookable taxi to Varzi

Return: Camogli station within walking distance from most hotels

For pre-bookable taxi costs, see “Prices”

Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information.

Where You'll Stay

A wonderful range of local accommodation, including the highly stylish, the earnestly mountain and the friendly basic. All are committed to our ideals, and those before the coast all use locally-sourced (or home-grown) food and wine.

Mornico Losana – Villa Arabella (Dinner, B&B)

Night 1

Mornico Losana – Villa Arabella (Dinner, B&B)

Gorgeous and stylish villa with pool and Arabella's cooking.

Fortunago – Locanda del Molino (Dinner, B&B)

Night 2

Fortunago – Locanda del Molino (Dinner, B&B)

Rustic and friendly pension in quiet hamlet.

Varzi – Locanda Le Cicale (B&B)

Night 3

Varzi – Locanda Le Cicale (B&B)

Lively gelateria/B&B in a small town on the edge of the hills, run by Greta and Allesandra.

Loc – Capanne di Cosola: (B&B)

Night 4

Loc – Capanne di Cosola: (B&B)

Mountain pass restaurant with classic regional cuisine and simple rooms. Small spa.

Due Ponti – Hotel due Ponti (Dinner, B&B)

Night 5

Due Ponti – Hotel due Ponti (Dinner, B&B)

Friendly family run old coaching inn with large gardens on banks of the Trebbia.

Calcinara – Albergo Caprile (Dinner, B&B)

Night 6

Calcinara – Albergo Caprile (Dinner, B&B)

Simple family albergo with strong local following and refurbished rooms with balcony

Camogli – La Camogliese (B&B)

Night 7 & 8

Camogli – La Camogliese (B&B)

Excellent little B&B near the beach.

Camogli – Cenobio dei Dogi (B&B)

Night 7 & 8 (Upgrade)

Camogli – Cenobio dei Dogi (B&B)

Grand old lady of Camogli hotels, overlooking the sea, with pool, terraces, private beach etc.

Prices

Price: £995 for 8 nights

Total 8 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, 5 evening meals, 6 picnics, all luggage transfers, and transfer to start of walk from Varzi. Locally levied tourist taxes are not included.

All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated (e.g. for taxis), and may vary with exchange rate fluctuations – check with On Foot for your guaranteed price.

Supplements and savings

Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £200

Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £180

Larger party saving (on identical itinerary): – £115 pp (except first two in party)

 

Add Ons

Extra nights at Villa Arabella, Camogli hotels and/or other stops en route: Contact On Foot Holidays (seasonal pricing)

Upgrade hotels in Camogli: Contact On Foot Holidays (seasonal pricing)

Taxi Milan airports to first hotel: Malpensa £167 (1-3 pers.), £191 (4-8); Linate £122 (1-3), £147 (4-8); Bergamo £211 (1-3), £243 (4-8)

Taxi Genoa airport to first hotel: £167 (1-3 persons) £200 (4-8)

Taxis from/back to Pisa airport: Contact On Foot Holidays

Taxi from Voghera station to Mornico Losana (pay locally) €35 (1-4 pers.), €42 (5-8); from Pavia station €55 (1-4), €66 (5-8). Voghera to Varzi €50 (1-4); 5-8 €60

Spa entry at Capanne di Cosola: €15 per person (pay locally)

Travellers Reviews

We enjoyed the feeling of being away from it all.

We only met a handful of people while we were walking. The views were tremendous especially when we were on the ridges and that made the effort of climbing worthwhile. We enjoyed staying in different places and meeting people who were generally very hospitable. We also enjoyed our "time-out" at the beginning and end of the tour. Pavia was well worth the visit. Then after the walk's end we toured the Portofino peninsula on one day and visited the Cinque Terre on the other - both very enjoyable.

David Wells, Surrey, September 2016

The places we stayed were fabulous – warm, friendly and each unique in their own way.

All were superb but Paul and Arabella were particularly welcoming and their cooking sublime. Capanne di Cosola put on the most amazing meal and the boys thought the meat cooked over the fire at Due Ponti heaven. A big thank you to everyone at every place who went the extra mile in dealing with the fact that 3 of us were gluten free.

Elizabeth Fisher (and Corin (13) and Arthur (11)), Oxford, August 2016

We wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed the walk in the Ligurian Hills.

It's our favourite so far! The scenery was spectacular and so were the meals at the end of the day. It was a real bonus that we had sunny, coolish days. What a beautiful part of Italy! I'm sure we'll never forget having our picnic in the middle of the huge field of narcissus in full bloom, or sharing the very narrow hillside path with a herd of 20 cows.

Susan Johnstone, Victoria BC, May 2016

More independent feedback
Reserve your dates Add to shortlist
Paul Lizioli

Route designed by:

Paul Lizioli

Paul is a seasoned voyager and has travelled extensively for both business and pleasure (bleasure!?) to over 50 countries and over 500 places on all continents. He speaks five languages.

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