nature

mountains

culture

Surprises from Punta Crena to Capo Noli

A stroll along the rocks dropping into the sea in one of the most stunningly beautiful settings of western Liguria, overlooking a highly popular part of the sea with lovers of the Riviera

Liguria's Riviera di Levante or eastern Riviera offers visitors splendid rocky cliffs rising straight up from the sea: a series of promontories, points and rocky bluffs dive into the sea from Camogli to the Golfo dei Poeti from elevated and not-so-elevated heights.
The western coastline also has its wild strips of land overlooking the sea: high limestone cliffs touch the coastline between Spotorno and Varigotti and indeed its name Malpasso derives from the location, indicating how difficult it was to move from one place to the other.
Now the Via Aurelia cuts through the cliffs and travels along tunnels to overcome the ruggedness at Capo Noli, but in the past, you could only get there via the immediate hinterland.
The best adjective to describe the landscape along this hike is "sunny": you walk through the Mediterranean brush or on rocks that are so pale they reflect the sunlight. Not far from Varigotti, in a splendid position, you'll run into a very old church, San Lorenzo. It's easy to spot some gorgeous purple flowers growing on the pale walls of the building, which can only be found here and in the Finale area - and nowhere else in the world! Their scientific name is Campanula isophylla Moretti, here known as Campanula a foglie uguali, easy to recognise for anyone who reads the information on the nature trail panels at the start of the hike.


A steep track leads to a cavern - the Grotta dei Falsari or Grotta dei Briganti (the cavern of counterfeiters or cavern of brigands). The name of course derives from its past as the only tortuous trail to travel along. Stories have it that this rocky hollow was the secret hiding place for counterfeiters or brigands who used it to store their ill-gotten gains. You walk downwards to enter the cavern, which overlooks the sea. The cavity opens out over the sea - a spectacular balcony along the coastline bright with the light filtering through.


Near the start of the trail, at Punta Crena (a promontory that marks the western part of the Bay of the Saracens) you'll see the ruins of a castle and a lookout tower used to spot Saracen pirates.

The Church of San Lorenzo originally dates back to the early Christian period between the 3rd and 4th centuries. It was badly damaged by a bomb dropped by the British air force in 1944. Past the Church is a wall containing some picturesque votive offerings referring to sailing misadventures (Mausoleo Cerisola). Along the higher part of the trail, you can take a short detour to the "Torre delle Streghe", a 16th century tower built on the border of Noli and Varigotti, which were enemies at the time: Noli was an ally of the Genoese Republic, Varigotti belonged to the Finale Del Carretto Marquisate. Other ruins along the trail include: the three churches of San Lazzaro, San Michele and Santa Margherita the hermitage of Captain D'Albertis.

The settlement of Semaforo, 275 metres above sea level, has a weather station. In the past it was a marker and reference point for ships.

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Andrea Percivale
Andrea Percivale
Guide environnemental et excursionniste

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