As usually happens in our trekking experiences, our starting point is a nice pier sticking out into the sea.
Today we are in Varigotti, ready to face a trekking day to spend discovering places with evocative names and breathtaking views.
The famous Path of the Pilgrim, the stunning Dantesque Walk and the impressive Grotta dei Falsari (Counterfeits’ Cave) are waiting for us.
We are ready to live a new adventure of LiguriaTrekkingeXperience now!
The Path of the Pilgrim
The day is perfect: there are no clouds on the horizon and the calm sea of Varigotti stretches beneath our feet.
We walk into Varigotti and through the upper part of the village we reach the Strada Vecchia (Ancient Road) where we find a well-marked signpost showing the beginning of the path. From here one of the most scenic and interesting itineraries of Liguria is just starting!
The beginning of the footpath is quite tiring as the route climbs along steep slopes and our legs are not warmed up yet, but we persevere. We know great surprises are waiting for us and in any case we can take a break and admire the panoramic glimpses along our way.
After a 15-minutes of sustained climbing we meet a deviation which leads to the Church of San Lorenzo: it is a simple stone church standing on a grassy space, surrounded by lush greenery overlooking the wonderful view of the Baia dei Saraceni (Saracens’ Bay) and Punta Crena.
We let our eyes wander over the sea and shortly afterwards we start hiking again.
By the sea the most attractive part of the whole Path of the Pilgrim is waiting for us. While climbing we find a special wall decorated with a beautiful bright combination of colors and nautical-themed decorations. It was built by Giuseppe Cerisola, an experienced swimmer, after coming back home in Varigotti (from Australia where he lived for a long time), in memory of the ones he had rescued at sea.
Walking on we arrive at a tall and austere tower. It is called the Torre delle Streghe (Witches’Tower), erected in 1582 to mark the borders between the territories of Noli and Varigotti. Although its name could call back gloomy and mysterious atmospheres, actually it comes from Noli people’s will to taunt the women living in Varigotti.
Along our way, dug out by the water in places, but easy to walk as well, we meet the radio station of the Carabinieri. Now we are in the upper part of the trail, more precisely, at Manie, well-known for its outdoor bike racings held throughout the year (we talked about it in the Finale Ligure Stage of #LiguriaBikeXperience! Click here to learn more)
The Dantesque Walk
From this point onwards the route leading to Noli is all downhill. Even Dante Alighieri walked along this part of the trail “Dantesque Walk”, as it is called: in fact, the great Italian poet cites this itinerary in Purgatory IV Canto.
By retracing his immortal steps, we walk down to Noli under oaks and maritime pines shadow as far as we take a new deviation.
The path is now quite descending and along the way here and there branches of trees and bushes reach the walk.
Ten minutes later we arrive at one of the most natural wonders in Liguria: The Counterfeits’ Cave.
The Counterfeits’ Cave
Also known as “Antro dei Briganti” (Brigands’ hiding place) it is an enormous opening cut in the rock, a real window overlooking the sea.
The story (hence the name) tells that pirates and brigands used to take shelter and hide their treasures here.
We can’t resist the temptation to come into the cave and to do that we must cross a very narrow passage, barely large enough for human exploration.
On the other side the view in front of us is really magnificent: we are into the cave dropping suddenly in the sea. A mind-blowing experience!
We come back to the main route. We start going down again and after a while we get to the last important place of the itinerary: the scenic remains of the Church of S. Giulia and S. Margherita.
Our two hour trekking tour ends here.
Noli and its crystal sea water stretch under our eyes.