An easy and short stage, almost entirely flat: smooth and relaxing, without difficulty.
The last Ligurian day gives us open spaces and the beautiful view from the top of Mount Ventarola (1,177 m), with the beautiful view of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and the Cinque Terre coast.
There are several old barbed wire fences that need to be crossed: be careful.
In some stretches, the track disappears (especially in the final stretch, descending to Passo Cento Croci, after the southern ridge of Monte Zuccone): keep an eye on the GPS.
The signage is sometimes poor and the direction is easily mistaken.
Absent water points.
We take the wide and comfortable carriage road along the wide ridge, facing the beautiful Monte Riso (1,011 m) which stands out to the south. We proceed fast for a long time leveled, with beautiful views over the upper Val di Taro, to the north, and the Val di Vara, to the south. After a short stretch on the road, we return to the path and, bypassing Monte la Crocetta from the south (931 m), we continue on the dirt road that runs along the panoramic ridge, with gentle ups and downs.
We cross Monte Pietre Bianche (937 m) and, overcome the pass of the same name, we start the only, modest climb of the day (about 200 m height difference), without difficulty. We pass Passo Chiapparino (with a small chapel-shelter) and continue towards the top of Mount Ventarola (1,177 m). From the summit, we enjoy the landscape of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and the Cinque Terre.
Following a barbed wire fence, we gently descend to Passo Panpintardo and return to the woods. The wide dirt road continues on level ground, cutting the slopes of Monte Zuccone halfway up the coast, with often open views. After passing the southern ridge of the mountain, we pass a barbed wire fence (the opening is narrow, not very visible) and, skirting some large wind turbines, we quickly descend to Passo Cento Croci (1,055 m), where a sign welcomes us in Emilia Romagna.
Passo Cento Croci joins the province of La Spezia to that of Parma and has been very popular since ancient times, even as Via del Sale.
Its name, strongly evocative, is linked to many legends that tell of murderers and victims, found in a deep well: a cross for each corpse. The best known legend speaks of a monk who hosted travelers in his home and then killed them, taking their belongings. In other versions, they are the brigands who, after eliminating the monks, attacked and killed the wayfarers.
All these stories, however, arise from the fact that the territory (as it was affected by a strong commercial transit) was historically infested by brigands and in any case, documents dating back to 1500 confirm that something serious must have happened and clearly speak of a well.
The village of Varese Ligure is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is an Orange Flag of the Italian Touring Club. There are finds that testify Byzantine and Longobard settlements. The Castello dei Fieschi is beautiful, as is the historic center, characterized by the rounded shapes of the buildings. It is also worth to pay a visit to the ancient Grecino district, joined to the village by an elegant single arch bridge.
Varese Ligure is also an example of a "bio village", very attentive to green practices: a shrewd administration has chosen to invest in the organic production of local vegetables and meats, conduct that, in 2004,led the town to be awarded also by the European Union as "best rural community".
The corzetti (croxetti) are an old type of fresh pasta in the shape of a medallion, engraved with a particular design through a wooden mold.
They date back to the Middle Ages: it seems that the nobles had the cooks affix their coat of arms, to remind diners of the importance of their family. A document, dated 1362, attests to the presence of the Corzetti at a royal lunch in Genoa, in honor of the king of Morocco.
In Varese Ligure there is the workshop of a carver, Pietro Picetti, who still makes the beautiful molds by hand, safeguarding a tradition that was in danger of disappearing.
At the Cento Croci pass there are no accommodation facilities (only the Passocento bar-restaurant). However, it is possible to take the shuttle bus that goes down to Varese Ligure, where there are several solutions.
Albergo Picetti, in Varese Ligure. Tel. +39 0187 843043
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest town that can be reached by bus is Cassego, starting from the city of La Spezia with a change in Varese Ligure.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.