An excursion to discover a secret: High Liguria, also called Riviera dei fiori ; the flowers and aromatics culture is there indeed a tradition. Between sea, mountain and authentic gastronomy, it’s one of the most famous Italian areas for its cooking, and we make stops in hotels and restaurants each evening, which promise to treat your taste bud. We will also spend one night at the Thermal baths of Pigna, the third day, where a Spa is waiting for you!
Departure from the village at 9am
As soon as the first day begins, the general scenery sets in : sea on the bottom, mountains on top. The first tracks make possible to be quietly familiarized with your mount. The Monti hamlet, then the Castellar village : sweet transition from civilization to the scrubland ! It’s the whole Riviera which reveals its architecture because Menton, Monaco and even Nice, at the horizon, are connected in the landscape. We cross the border by a cow path that we opened ourselves. A crossing through the scrubland which one could believe unsophisticated leads us gradually to our night stage : Mortola, a hamlet which overlooks the sea. We sleep at Alto Blu, an entirely blue B&B.
Border crossed, we start the discovery of the secret Liguria. We pass by the first moutains over the sea and cross medieval villages, formerly deserted and now restored : Villatella, Torri, Colla Bassa. We cross the first italian valley near the Airoles village. The climbing offers a splendid panorama on the Grammondo top, the Cima Longoria and then until the sea. A craggy ascension under the green oaks is the sign of the arrival at Rocchetta Nervina, our night stage.
We continue our visit of the lost villages of the Liguria, between military paths, mule and cow tracks. We make brief stops from villages to chapels, from hamlets to churches : Isolabona, Marra chapel, Apricale, church of the Angels Madona… We lunch at the Perinaldo village, where the astrophysician Cassini -the famous tarot cards drawer- was born. We will visit the municipal museum about him, to learn more about it. Then we get back in the saddle to reach our third stage, quite funny : the Seborga micronation, a self-proclaimed principality, which fight juridically for its independence. The village’s florist was elected as a prince in 1963. This sandy plateau is the flow dream, perfect for gaits overlooking the sea.
On the fourth day, we continue our secret Liguria discover, where the civilization begins to disappear. We leave the Seborga micronation to the Mount Carparo. Mule tracks, between pines and garrigue, are climbing into the hinterland, on cliff sides. We cross the Termini cols, which lead to the Bignone mount, at 1300m. We join the Baiardo village, by a back road with a splendid sea view. Sweet atmosphere. We stay in a charming B&B and have diner in the village, at a gourmet well-known restaurant.
On this day, we step into the wild Liguria. The Ceppo mount is waiting for us ! It’s a well-known place for the nature lovers and locals, it culminates at 1600m and overlooks the sea. The forests crossed to reach it seems to be there since the beginning. Two species of pine are endemic there. This fabulous day continues at the thermal village of Pigna. Of course we will make the most of it. The evening dinner place is known through the whole Liguria for its authentic food.
During the sixth day, the horses climb to Gol di Gouta, an old hunt landmark. Civilization disappears again during a few hours and the paths perfume with scrubland and garigue smells : thyme, cypress, herbs. A beautiful track call for good gaits during the afternoon, it leads us to Olivetta, a little frontier village, where the olive is the queen as its name make understand.
We cross the village at sunrise to take the stone bridge belonging to the old mill and to climb in the direction of the Pas dell Treitore… Almost 1000m of height difference, where we have the impression to go back in time. There are marks of the former cultures : walls made of dry stones, arbergh, drinking trough… We stop to lunch in a clearing, in a mountain refugee, an oasis of calm. During the afternoon, we come back in France, by a cow path again ! We come back peacefully in Sainte Agnès by the Castillon saddle, last tracks offer an amazing view of the sea, just to greet the scenery that have carried us away.