180 km in between mountains, hills, seafront, historical towns and seaside paradises.
On May 21st after 2 years the 11th stage of the Giro d’Italia will cross my region.
The stage will start in Collecchio, in Emilia Romagna and will enter Liguria through an ancient mountain pass once dividing the Duchy of Parma and the Republic of Genoa, the Cento Croci Pass.
The first town worth a visit is Varese Ligure, know as Borgo Rotondo (i.e. the round town). The village is the main one in the Vara Valley and falls in the now famous ‘Valle del Biologico‘ (i.e. Organic Valley), being the most ecological municipality in Italy.
Varese Ligure dates back to the Byzantine era and its historical importance was immediately marked by the privileged geographical position. The village was built in the 13th century and the remains of ancient walls are still visible here and there, but at the heart of it all is without a doubt the village itself, with its stone houses, narrow alleys and side porches along the perimeter of the elliptic main square, home to warehouses and workshops of great charm.
After the panoramic Bocco Pass the athletes will reach the sea level in Sestri Levante, a peninsula with one side on the amazingly romantic ‘Baia del Silenzio‘ (i.e. Silent Bay) and the other one on the ‘Baia delle Favole‘ (i.e. Fairy Tales Bay). Here you could spend hours strolling around and admiring the beautiful multicolored seaside houses built on the sand.
Once left Sestri Levante the race will continue along the coast, crossing the so called Golfo del Tigullio, a beautiful sequence of fashionable towns with pastel colored houses, aristocratic villas, with their beautiful harbors and beaches encircled by emerald mountains.
Lavagna, Chiavari, Zoagli, Rapallo and Recco, where is not possible not to stop by to taste its absolutely delicious focaccia a cheesy variation on the traditional genovese focaccia, made by extending a thin sheet of dough, dotting it with stracchino, a creamy cheese, covering up and baking it.
Only this would be worth a trip to the Italian Riviera!
Cyclists will then cross Genoa, the Superb. Ideally you should spend here at least 3 or 4 days. Walking around its Medieval quarter till the ancient harbor restored by Renzo Piano, discovering its ‘Strade Nuove‘ (i.e. new streets) with the impressive aristocratic Rolli Palaces built in the 16th century and classed by the UNESCO considering them a landmark in Mannerist architecture, visiting its numerous museums and cathedrals, relaxing in Nervi, along the Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi, a 2 km walkway along the sea cliffs, or in its 10 hectares park, created from the gardens of the Villa Grimaldi, Villa Gropallo and Villa Serra.
Once left Genoa the race will reach Varazze, with its beautiful Marina, the rocky coast and in its hinterland the amazing Mount Beigua with its surprising Natural Regional Park. A country paradise with a stunning sea view!
Then comes Albisola, a charming seaside village surrounded by shiny green hills and famous for its beaches, the typical narrow and winding Ligurian carruggi (down town lanes), its Roman origins and the beautiful and colorful promenade, the Walk of Artists, connecting Albisola to Albissola Marina.
Last village before the finishing line in Savona will be Altare, a tiny hinterland bijoux where you can’t miss the Glass Museum. Located in the amazing Villa Rosa, a wonderful liberty mansion-house exposing unique pieces of glass manufactures and finds. Just beautiful and really interesting.
Savona will see the attainment of the pink jersey. This important port town has a really nice medieval centre to be discovered. The highlights are the Pinacoteca exposing artists such us Picasso, the 16th century Priamar Fortress offering an amazing view and the Cappella Sistina where Pope Sixtus IV had a mausoleum built up to honour is family Della Rovere following the design of the world famous one in Rome.