Second tour with Diego Rossi, aka Jack in the Green. Jack is an environmental and hiking guide in the Ligurian Alps. In this article Jack leads us to the discovery of some trails around the Ecovillage. Waiting to put the backpack on our shoulders, we let ourselves be guided by his words. We walk among olive groves and holm oaks, through the shady undergrowth. We meet old stone houses, we cross centuries-old bridges immersed in the Mediterranean maquis and visit ancient villages perched on the sides of the mountains. 

Text and pictures of: Diego Rossi aka hiking guide Jack in the Green http://crestediconfine.com/ for previous excursions go to the article https://www.torrisuperiore.org/en/tour-of-the-villages-around-torri-superiore-ecovillage-first-part/

Itinerary Olivetta San Michele-Monte Grammondo

We start from the village of Olivetta San Michele, in Biancheri square, near the church of Sant’Antonio and proceed initially downhill, passing through the village of Torri and from there we cross the Roncone bridge over the Bevera. The first stretch after the bridge zigzags up a paved lane with a slightly uneven bottom that sneaks into the typical Mediterranean maquis, and climbs up to the presence of a repeater (660 m): this is the most difficult stretch. 

Afterwards we pass a long traverse between limestone rocks to return to a wood of holm oaks, which we walk through climbing on hairpin bends. At a certain point we go uphill on a tripod eroded by the passage of motorcycles, to discover ancient terraces used by the locals in the summer months for deep-sea cultivation. We are now near Patrick Gambino refuge in Gerri, managed by the CAI of Ventimiglia (for the keys ask Olivetta San Michele at the Agriturismo La Casa di Remo).

We continue the walk along a wide road that climbs in hairpin bends in a thick pine forest, at the Tremore Pass we cross the path coming from the French side. Once we reach the height of some abandoned barracks, we follow the path for a few hundred meters, and then we enter a ridge frequented by sheep and wild goats grazing in the bushes. After passing some rocks we reach the cross at the top of the Grammondo mountain. Nearby other points are surmounted by crosses, but the main one is easy to spot because it is fixed on a huge stone base.

Notes:
The Grammondo is a mountain located on the Italian-French border, very close to and just inside the Ligurian coast between Ventimiglia and Menton. It offers a first-rate view: on clear days you can even see Corsica island. The summit can be reached by different routes starting from Mortola, Bevera, Menton or Olivetta San Michele. It is a panoramic peak that overlooks both the Italian and the French side of the Mediterranean coast. It is striking for the rich vegetation and in particular for the blooming of the officinal peony, which is recorded in the spring period.

Starting altitude: 292 m  Peak/maximum altitude: 1,378 m  Total ascent: 1,140 m  Ideal period: spring/autumn  Length: 6h30  Distance: 15.9 km Difficulty: E (hiking)

Grammondo
Grammondo Mountain
Olivetta San Michele

Airole- Breil returning by Train.

Exciting route along a stretch of the ancient “Via del Sale” enjoying wonderful panoramic views drawn by the waters of the river Roja and the limestone rocks that characterize the area.  

The itinerary starts from the small square in front of the Airole cemetery (147 m), where following a small asphalted road we reach the pipeline that feeds the hydroelectric power station below, then continues on a mule track that crosses the Mantici Valley and continues along the main valley, on the left hydrographic slope of the Roya.

At a bend in the path near a hillock, we can catch a glimpse of Fanghetto and admire the spectacular loops that the Roya river describes around San Michele. Further on we go down to cross the Fanghetto valley (about 190m) and from the opposite bank, with the help of a few hairpin bends, we reach the village.

Past the village, where the suggestive “Piazza del Popolo” stands out, we reach the asphalt road that we leave shortly afterwards to take the mule track that passes in front of a small church. After passing a boundary stone, at a fork in the road near some ruined farmhouses, we turn left. Continuing through the pinewood, with a few hairpin bends in the undergrowth, we come to a crossroads where we keep to the left. The path loses altitude until a small bridge that allows us to pass over the side of Rio Audin.

From this point we start climbing again with views of Piene Haute and the remains of its castle. From there we will soon find ourself in Libre near the village Frugoni, surrounded by vast plots of olive groves. Climbing gently on a cart track, we join the asphalt road that joins the different hamlets that make up Libre. Once we reach Borgogni village, we take the path on the right that leads us to Breil sur Roya.

After a short flat stretch and several ups and downs we face a piece of uphill road that leads to Pas de la Masque, then the path loses altitude and we walk along it with a moderate gradient. Shortly afterwards we pass through a wood of downy oaks and further on we take a road that we follow until reaching a clearing. Here we find the mule track that descends to the bottom of the valley and then cross a small bridge up the valley until we reach a notch in the rocks from which it starts to descend again along the Roya river and finally enters Breil through the “Porta Genova“.

Notes:

The itinerary proposed here is quite demanding and is characterized by the visit of picturesque villages lying on the left bank of the river and by an environment dominated by a thick holm oak wood with shrubby areas connected to pine forest. The route alternates between ups and downs partly on stony ground and partly on beaten earth and ends with a visit to Breil sul Roja where we can take the return train.

Duration: 5h c.a  Height difference: 570 mt uphill 700 mt downhill  Lenght: 14 km.

Fanghetto
Ponte di Fanghetto

Ventimiglia- Martinazzi- Alta Via- Ciaixe- Dolceacqua

Who could imagine that just upstream of the chaotic central streets of Ventimiglia there is a wild and in some ways untouched area? In fact, if you reach San Secondo district just above Ventimiglia’s railroad, begins a journey through olive groves and woods of the Mediterranean bush of rare beauty.

From San Secondo churh we follow a slightly, shaded yellow and red sign, alternating with yellow signs. We climb on asphalt with a good gradient and after passing some villas we turn right to climb in a slightly desolate area. The road is interrupted and becomes a narrow path with a prevalence of holm oaks and flanked by very crumbly limestone rocks, while underneath lies a lush stream hidden by vegetation.

Once past the shady stretch, we enter a pleasant olive grove where the ghostly dwellings of Martinazzi emerge, a cluster of houses immersed in a gentle rural tranquillity. We climb up inside the Mediterranean bush to emerge in a mixed Garigue environment. The track that we follow stretches into the valley below connecting with the AV (High Way) of the Ligurian Mountains. We go around some military barracks and when we arrive near the Madonna delle Fontane (Holy Mary of the Fountains) we take the direct path to the Church of Madonna della Neve (Holy Mary of Snow) in Ciaixe.

From here we take the AV (High Way) for a long open traverse through pinewoods offering superb views over the Val Roja and the French Riviera. Then when we reach a saddle, we leave the main path interrupted by a flashy landslide, to take a short uphill ramp that becomes a steep descent on a stony ground, through which we reach the suggestive gullies of Terre Bianche (White Lands).

The area has many vineyards where the Dolceacqua wine Rossese is cultivated. We will try to taste it at the end of the walk. For 2 km we proceed on a flat stretch of woodland and slopes along the vineyards until we reach Colla, where we start to descend. After 800 mt a wide mule track with stony ground leads us to the Church of San Bernardo and from there we will soon discover the picturesque village of Dolceacqua with its Castle and its donkey-back bridge.

Duration: 5h30  Altitude difference: 650 mt. Km: 14  Return to Ventimiglia by bus.  Ideal period: Winter/Spring.

Dolceacqua
Martinazzi

The Path of Hope: Balzi Rossi- Grimaldi-Passo della Morte-Mentone

This path that runs along the border between Italy and France, offers many points of interest for those who walk along it. Because in addition to the amazement of crossing an enchanting area both from a landscape and environmental point of view, one is struck by the human events of those who have passed through it, over time.

From the frontier of San Ludovico Bridge, we follow the Liguria path that starts at the Prehistoric Museum of Balzi Rossi, which we can visit together with the caves on the way back.  https://www.musei.liguria.beniculturali.it/en/musei?mid=403&nome=museo-preistorico-dei-balzi-rossi-e-zona-archeologica

The scenery that accompanies us is really suggestive with overhanging cliffs close to the railway line on our left and beautiful bays full of poseidonia on our right. The mule track crosses a nursery of succulent plants and climbs up to Grimaldi Superiore. Shortly afterwards, we take the path that enters the pine forest and leads to Case Gina, a nucleus of abandoned houses surrounded by olive groves that have been a refuge for many migrants over the years.

At the end of the stop we go down towards Rio San Luigi following a tortoise-shaped path, after passing the stream at the height of a disused mill, we take a path that enters the thicker scrub and then climbs on the right on a passage of steps and small ramps. Here we need to use our hands to climbe it. In a short time we reach the barbed wire that marks the border between Italy and France, we cross it to enjoy a wonderful view between the Mediterranean bush and the sea.

We keep on the French side, peeling upstream through the sparse vegetation and then following a long traverse that leads us to a dirt track near the Grange St Paul.  If we proceed straight ahead, we would go to Castellar, instead on the right  we would go towards Mount Carpano and Mount Grammondo, while bending left we go in the direction of Menton.

The descent promises to be steep and at a certain point, it intersects with the road that goes to Supergaravan, we instead keep on the path to arrive at the beautiful complex of Le Colombier. This villa, classified in 1991 among the French historical monuments, was built in the 18th century and is now owned by the Likierman family. Thanks to its lush garden and the valuable drawings and decorations by landscape architect Ferdinand Bach, it is a hymn to the Mediterranean.

Continuing downhill we will come out near the Garavan Route, where turning right in about twenty minutes we will reach the monumental cemetery and the old town of Menton, while continuing downhill we will arrive at the Port of Garavan and from there shortly in Italy.

Notes:

To start from Balzi Rossi it is necessary to arrive by car, alternatively you can go the opposite way if you arrive by train to Menton-Garavan, or you can start from the upper border of Ponte San Luigi if you arrive by bus.

Duration: 5h  Altitude difference: 530 mt. Km: 11. Ideal period: Winter/ Spring. 

Menton
Menton - Garavan

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