Ligurian Hills – 5 nights
Across the Apennines to the seaBack to Routes
Vines and village
The afternoon ahead
Easy to follow routes
We loved the quietness and non-touristy nature of most the walk and the varied and interesting accommodation.
Sheila Martinelli, Warminster, UK - September 2023
Helpful and clear, brilliant walking pack, notes, GPS track. Better than other operators. Each hotel before the end was so generous with food - treating us like royalty. Much appreciated and delicious but sometimes too much and we often did not know what to expect so we’re brought another 2 courses when we thought we had finished and were full!
Ben Woodhouse, Kent, UK - September 2023
The scenery was stunning and the sense of remoteness exhilarating. We felt a great sense of achievement at the end of the walk.
Richard Clarke, London, UK - September 2023
Thank you for organizing such a brilliant trip. Everything worked beautifully. The walk notes were so good. They gave us confidence and we didn’t get lost once. It was fun staying in such a variety of places. The walks were demanding enough to give us a sense of achievement at the end of each day.The views were spectacular, the history fascinating and the weather was on our side right to the end. Two days of luxury in Camogli and wonderful swimming in the sea were a perfect conclusion.
Sarah, UK - September 2023
We have just returned from our trip to Liguria and and just wanted to say a huge thank you once again for all the excellent organisation that you put into it! We will be back again next year for sure as just love the walking and the amount of details put into all the instructions and organisation that On Foot provide. Truly wonderful.
Clare, UK - September 2023
Each day was entirely satisfying, in hiking, views, culture and hosts. All of our trips with you have been excellent, yet the Ligurian Hills has given us a little something extra that we'll remember for a long time.
Todd Black, Seattle, USA - May 2023
This is a wonderful walk - plaudits to the people who developed it as it doesn't 'leap' off the map. Good challenge but so great to have an objective, ie the walk was from A to B - brilliant job all round.
Celia and Bill Ford, Chippenham, UK - October 2022
It was a great holiday. The walk lengths were challenging but do-able! The GPS was brilliant keeping us on track. The scenery was spectacular and it was very peaceful.
Nicholas Saxby, Monewden, UK - September 2022
Extremely stimulating holiday, getting a real feel for rural Italy and having the opportunity to meet local people and in our pidgin Italian learning about them and their lives. Scenery was beautiful.
Alison Gollins, Heswall, UK - September 2022
This was a really good holiday. Albergo Capanne di Cosola: Unbelievably good food - very sophisticated and a real gourmet blow out.
John Edwards, Clifford, UK - July 2022
Wonderful walking across the Appenines to the sea. Everything worked exactly as planned, with a very personal service both in each location and from On Foot Holidays.
Anon - October 2021
I liked walking through the different sorts of landscapes. We didn't even meet any other walkers, except on the Sunday, at the top. The flowers were fantastic! The paths themselves were often truly lovely - the old road, the contouring bits, the ridges in both woods and open.
It was great to get to each place to find each accommodation so different and interesting. They were all nice and the food and drink excellent. I like that the places we stay are low key but have what we want, and knowing that there are people on the ground who know what we are doing and are there to help if necessary.
Stephen and Joan Carter, Edinburgh, UK - June 2019
We had an amazing time so wanted to thank you very much for all the seemless service and preparation materials, maps, instructions and overall experience. We were very satisfied.
I am glad I contacted you last minute for the GPS files and downloaded the app, as it certainly came in handy. Even my paper map-loving Dad agreed it was very useful!
Flora Last, Sheffield, UK - June 2019
We are just back from the fantastic walking holiday experience we enjoyed on the Via del Sale! Everything was so well organized and the maps and notes were spot on. Hosts in all the hotels and guesthouses were wonderful!
The walks themselves were simply stunning with unspoilt scenery and magnificent terrain. We received warm welcomes everywhere, ate delicious food and revived weary legs with delicious wines and cool beers!
Gillian Perdue, Dublin, Ireland - April 2019
We liked the remote hills and ridge walks, particularly on the last four days.
We enjoyed the ancient paths, the old and attractive forests, the accompaniment of lots of butterflies and birdsong and the tranquillity of the walk.
Colin Passey, Southsea, UK - June 2018
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 with Corin (13) and Arthur (11), Oxford, UK - 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, Canada - May 2016
At a glance
5 nights, (4 walking days - starting at Varzi) - just one at the end by the sea in Camogli (but you can add nights here). See 'Prices' tab for what's included.
Suggested route pairing: Lake Maggiore, Southern Tuscany
How much walking?
Full days: 15-24km per day, 5-7 hrs walking
Using shortening options: 10-17km per day, 2¼-5 hrs (using taxis)
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.
This version starts in Varzi, and gets you straight into the hills, scene of Hannibal’s march on Rome in 218 BC. From the historic valley town of Varzi 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.
Walked by On Foot staff: Simon and Mary
REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit Aito.com.
TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to Italy, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.
- Walk in the footsteps of Hannibal
- Varzi and its historic centre
- Crossing the Ligurian Apennines
- The harbour and beach at Camogli
- Your first glimpse of the blue Mediterranean
- Local wines and sophisticated home cooking
This route features the following characteristics and interests: Coast, Mountains, Remote, Villages and farms, Drive to route, Food, Vegan friendly, Wine
Things you should know
- This is a real ‘walkers’ walk’, with spectacular ridge hiking and long days.
- There are few villages en-route.
- A mid-route transfer from Due Ponti to Buffalora is necessary (due to accommodation limitations).
Eating and Drinking
Paolo at Capanne de Cosola, a remote restaurant on a high pass 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.”
However this is also a route where we can now offer a special experience for vegan and vegetarian walkers – we have been assiduous in securing a varied and imaginative diet all the way along the route (though strict vegans will need to miss out a night in Varzi). The end, Camogli, boasts several restaurants that specialise in vegan dishes. Find out more in our Travellers Blog here, and see some sample dishes here.
How much Walking?
Using shortening options: 10-17km per day, 2¼-5 hrs (using taxis)
Walking on paths and tracks, several prolonged 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.
Some shortening options available, except final two walks (can ride whole way with luggage on these days).
Acrophobia/vertigo warnings: Some tricky descents, and a balcony path to Calcinara which is not avoidable.
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, first half of June, September
Other possible months: First half of July, end 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 – June can start to be hot though height will ameliorate excessive temperatures. Camogli hotels normally ask for minimum stays of more than one night end June and all July. September can be busy, but October should be glorious, though with the risk of rain.
Temperature and rainfall chart for Varzi
Day 1 - Arrive in Varzi
Arrive in Varzi and rest after your journey. Have a good supper, and recharge your batteries. Your first day’s walking rears up ahead of you!
Day 2 - 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 walking (allow 9¼ hrs), 21 km (13 miles), CUSs 1210m). Alternative: ride with the luggage to Castellaro (5 hrs walking (allow 6¾ hrs), 14 km (9 miles), CUSs 900m)
Day 3 - Capanne di Cosola to Due Ponti
This is the majestic day. 14 km of high walking, ending at Capanne de Carrega, with views for ever. From here you will be following the old road down down to Fascia (centre of resistance in WWII) and further to the valley floor, to your comfortable accommodation at the hamlet of Due Ponti. (Medium-hard: 6 hrs walking (allow 8 hrs), 21 km (13 miles), CUSs 575m) Alternative – two easier shortening options (9 km and 18¾ km), or ride all the way with the luggage.
Day 4 - 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-hard: 6 hrs walking (allow 8 hrs), 19 km (12 miles), 490m CUSs). Alternatives: None – except to ride the whole way with the luggage.
Day 5 - Calcinara to Camogli (for one night)
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.
Return home – or why not stay a day or two longer?
ARRIVING BY TRAIN
Nearest railway stations:
Sample journeys by rail:
TGV from Paris to Gare de Lyon to Marseille-St-Charles, and a Thello train onwards to Voghera. Alternatively go via Paris to Zurich HB and Milan Centrale – a quicker route but with one more change. ~10 hours
Coming back, consider travelling from Camogli to Paris via either Genoa and Turin or taking a longer route via Milan and Basel. Another choice might be to get to Milan Centrale for the Thello sleeper train to Paris.
We suggest thetrainline.com for times, ticket booking and other information.
ARRIVING BY CAR
Your car is best left with our hosts at Cella di Montalto (private parking) or Fortunago (quiet country road outside house). Parking in Varzi also possible (public car park, pay locally tbc). Returning, train to Voghera then taxi (pay locally, see “Prices”).
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.
Getting to the start of the walk
The first accommodation is normally in Montalto Pavese, though the 5-night version starts in Varzi. The last hotel is in Camogli. Transfer times and methods are suggested below for train stations and the three Milan airports, Genoa and Pisa.
Transfers from train stations:
Outwards: From Voghera station pre-bookable taxi to Montalto Pavese, public bus or pre-bookable taxi to Varzi
Return: Camogli station is within walking distance from most hotels
Transfers from airports:
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
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.
Varzi – Locanda Le Cicale (B&B)
Lively restaurant with rooms in the heart of Varzi (a small town on the edge of the hills), run by Greta and her family.Website
Albergo Capanne di Cosola (dinner, B&B)
Mountain pass restaurant with classic regional cuisine and newly refurbished rooms. Small spa.Website
Due Ponti – Hotel due Ponti (dinner, B&B)
Friendly family run old coaching inn with large gardens on banks of the Trebbia.Website
Camogli – Cenobio dei Dogi (B&B)
Grand old lady of Camogli hotels, overlooking the sea, with pool, terraces, private beach etc. 3 night min stay end June, 5 nights in July and August, 2/3 nights in September and for two nights at weekends in early June.Website
Total 5 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, 4 evening meals, 5 picnics, all luggage transfers, and a shortening transfer at the start of the day from Varzi if required; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support. Locally levied tourist taxes are not included.
All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in early May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.
Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £120
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £320
Large Party Saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £75 per person
Maximum party size: 10
Extra nights in 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 from £226 (1-3 pers.), £275(4-8); Linate from £182 (1-3), £220 (4-8); Bergamo from £275 (1-3), £330 (4-8)
Taxi Genoa airport to first hotel: from £231 (1-3 persons) £275 (4-8)
Taxis from/back to Pisa airport: Contact On Foot Holidays
Taxi from Voghera station to Montalto Pavese (pay locally) €55 (1-3 pers.), €72 (4-8); from Pavia station €94 (1-3), €110 (4-8). Voghera to Varzi €85 (1-3); €100 (4-8)
Spa entry at Capanne di Cosola: €16 per person (pay locally)
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK: £20-£60 (per pack, location dependent)
Our local team
Paul Lizioli / Greta Coperchini
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. Paul created our route through the Ligurian Hills to the sea.
Greta now looks after our walkers on this route from her home in Varzi, where she also operates a restaurant and B&B.