Liguria, thanks to the fact that it is a seaside land with the mountains behind it, is a very interesting destination for those who love riding a motorcycle. There are many hilly routes that take you to the high ground, without ever losing sight of the sea.
We have already given you some suggestions regarding the Ponente (West) , now we are going to take you to Levante (East), to discover the Gulf of Paradiso, the Gulf of Tigullio, the Gulf of the Poets and many other places while riding your motorbike.
From Genoa to Portofino along the Ligurian Riviera
Genoa is called “La Superba” (the Snooty) and all you have to do is take a walk through its historic center, admire its numerous palaces and historic houses to realize that its nickname suits it. Inside the urban area there is the small village of Boccadasse, an ancient village inhabited by fishermen, with houses overlooking the sea and a characteristic little beach. From panoramic points such as the Spianata di Castelletto you will have a complete view of the city.
To start your journey, head east on highway SS1, and you’re already en route to Rapallo where you will arrive in less than an hour. Stop for a walk along the beautiful Vittorio Veneto seaside promenade, full of palm trees and flowers, and visit the castle. Nearby there are many clubs, which in summer set up their outdoor areas, so you can drink something outside. To get to the historic center you pass under one of the ancient gates, a total of five, but the only one that is perfectly preserved is the Porta delle Saline (Gateway of the Salt-mines).
Hop back on your motorbike, the next stop is Santa Margherita Ligure, first passing along the waterfront V. Veneto and then following highway SS27. It’s only four kilometers between the two cities. The bay in which the village is located is very picturesque and here too you can walk along the seafront, Calata Vittorio Emanuele. Not far away is an ancient castle; it was built during the Maritime Republic of Genoa, the purpose of which was defense against enemies. High up on the hill you can see the church of San Giacomo and Villa Durazzo Centurione, surrounded by its beautiful gardens.
After Santa Margherita Ligure, another beautiful and famous Ligurian town is waiting for you: Portofino. It doesn’t take long to get there, so you can again enjoy the views along the way; here, hurrying along is not advisable. So now, sit back and enjoy this beautiful area, enclosed in a cove that is the shape of a half-moon. The sea is turquoise blue and crystal clear and the houses are very colorful, like in many other Ligurian villages. Here too, there is a nice little square with a view of the sea, where you can sit down and drink something or eat an ice-cream.
From Sestri Levante to Varese Ligure
We start from the sea to arrive in the green hinterland. The starting point is the promontory that houses the Baia del Silenzio (the Bay of Silence) and the Baia delle Favole (The Bay of Fables), in Sestri Levante. The two beautiful coves have wide sandy beaches and a crystal clear sea, behind them there are the typical Ligurian colorful houses. Before hopping back onto your motorcycle, take a walk through the town’s historical center: Via XXV Aprile is a street full of shops, boutiques, ice cream shops and clubs. There are so many beautiful mansions and historic houses in Sestri Levante. The Romanesque church of San Nicolò deserves a visit , the tower from which Guglielmo Marconi made his experiments, the ancient fortress (today the Grand Hotel dei Castelli) on the island, the former Convent of the Annunciation and the church of San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains).
And now you can set off, in the direction of Val Petronio. When you arrive at the church of San Giovanni Battista on the hill of Candiasco, after Borzonasca, stop and admire the view of the entire valley.
Then you will cross the Val Frascarese, where there are many karstic caves, in which prehistoric objects have been found. The first village you will come to is Castiglione Chiavarese, rich in olive groves and vineyards, from which you can enjoy a beautiful view. After that you will arrive at Velva, where there are the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Guardia (“guardia” means “watch”) and the museum of rural culture.
Your journey is almost over, because San Pietro Vara is quite nearby as is the beautiful round village (so-called due to the layout of the houses in its historical center) of Varese Ligure, considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Take a walk around the town and take a look at Fieschi Castle. This village, in the province of La Spezia, is famous for being the first Italian village to produce organic produce and crops, so you have to buy some local products.
From the Golfo dei Poeti (the Gulf of the Poets) to the Cinque Terre
This is an itinerary not to be missed if you are on a motorcycle and in the area. In one fell swoop you will see all the beauties of the province of La Spezia.
We start right from the provincial capital, La Spezia. The town is located in the middle of the gulf, halfway between Lerici and Porto Venere. Before starting out on your journey to the Cinque Terre, take a walk along the seaside promenade, the Morin Promenade. The avenue is long and is bordered by flower gardens. At the beginning of the walk, you will find the recently constructed Thaon de Revel bridge, which takes you to the Mirabello marina. At the beginning of the Morin Promenade there is also an excellent, inexpensive restaurant where you can try the seafood. On the opposite side, the Molo Italia starts; walk along it to the end, because there you can admire the red lighthouse.
To visit the town’s historical center, you have to cross Viale Italia, which runs along the gardens of the Morin Promenade, Via Chiodo, and arrive at Via Prione. This area is completely pedestrian and extends as far as Piazza Verdi. Note the ancient buildings and San Giorgio (Saint George) Castle.
Now hop onto your motorcycle, ride towards Viale Fieschi and then on to Porto Venere. Along the road, called the “Napoleonica” (“Napoleon’s road” because Napoleon gave orders to start building it in 1812), you will come across the small and charming seaside villages of Marola, Cadimare, Fezzano and Le Grazie. The road does not allow fast accelerations, if not in short stretches, because it goes right through residential areas. In Porto Venere take a walk along Calata Doria, where there is the “Palazzata”, old colorful houses lining the seafront. On the coast you will notice the island of Palmaria, which you can reach by boat. At the end of the walk, on a rocky promontory, there is the fascinating church of San Pietro (Saint Peter). The remains of Doria Castle is on the hill above. Before leaving, take a walk along Via Cappellini, the “carruggio” (narrow street) in the historical part of town; it is full of craft shops and delicatessens.
The next stop is Riomaggiore. To reach it, follow the Napoleonica road and then take the Litoranea (coast road), a definitely panoramic road. Between a curve and a straightaway you can see the whole city, with the military arsenal in the foreground and Lerici in the background. Near the hamlet of Biassa, you enter a tunnel, at the exit of which you can see the sea of the Cinque Terre area on the left. From that point on, a very peculiar bit of scenery begins, made of rocks, houses built on top of rocks and hills with vineyards, cultivated in the typical way of terracing, the walls of which are dry stone walls. To visit the villages you have to leave your motorbike and walk down or go down on foot or by bus; you will realize, however, that the “effort” is rewarded by admiring the beauty of the place. The only one of the Cinque Terre to have no direct access to the sea is Corniglia, after you pass through Manarola, because it was built on a cliff a hundred meters high. Afterwards there is Vernazza, considered by many to be the most beautiful among the five villages; it very much reminds you of Portofino.
Be very careful while driving, because there are often blind curves and the road is narrow in many sections.
Monterosso is the last of the Cinque Terre, the largest and the only one with wide beaches. The most beautiful, for the turquoise color of the water, is that of Fegina, at the foot of the railway station.
On the “Passo del Bracco” (Pass of the Bloodhound), starting from Brugnato
Brugnato, too, is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and it is located in the Vara river valley. Its historical center is really very pretty and well preserved. The Cathedral of Saints Peter, Lorenzo and Colombano, located on the site of an ancient paleochristian necropolis, the convent of the Passionist Fathers and the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora dell’Ulivo, located on a hill outside the city center, all deserve a visit. If you fancy a bit of shopping, just outside the village, near the highway toll booth, is the shopping center called “Shopinn Brugnato 5Terre”; it is the only outlet in Liguria. Before leaving, however, buy some local products, because Brugnato is also dedicated to organic farming and production.
Once you’re back on your motorcycles, head towards Carrodano. You will go through a beautiful chestnut woods before reaching the village. Carrodano is divided into two hamlets: Carrodano Sottano and Carrodano Soprano, once dominated by the diocese of Brugnato and the Malaspina family, respectively. From Sottano take the Aurelia, following the signs for Mattarana. You arrive at Carrodano Superiore, where the remains of the hospice of San Nicolao are still visible. Once you have visited Carrodano, take the road to Mattarana, a small hamlet surrounded by woods and cultivated fields. If you want to make another stop, to the west of the village, there is an artificial lake built in 1960 to irrigate the fields. From there, you can enjoy an excellent view of the Apuan Alps.
At this point, it is not far to “Passo del Bracco”; in fact, the road keeps on climbing up and up. There are lots of curves and hairpin bends, and this is why it is the place that is most loved by the motorcyclists of the area; and it is also very popular with those who come from other places; it seems that the asphalt is perfect motorcycling. It is easy to meet your “colleagues” on two wheels around this area. Like many other mountain roads in Liguria, also from here you can enjoy beautiful views, both of the hills and of the sea.
Once you reach the top of the pass, at “Casa Marcone”, it’s time to stop and enjoy the nature around you.