Italy Via della Costa

Day 8: Alassio to Andora/Finale Ligure to Spotorno

The Italian wall of fame, miniature cakes and new baked biscuits in the middle of nowhere. A sunny day, walking 28kms and an ascent of 890m.

On day 6 I finished walking in Andora, but started day 7 in Alassio (where we are were staying). Today I walked the 12kms from  Alassio to Andora, whereafter Lene picked me up and we drove to Finale Ligure, where I ended day 7. From there I continued to Spotorno.

From the B&B, I walked the 2-3kms into Alassio along Via Via Iulia Augusta, the roman road that I had walked along yesterday. Alassio was just coming to life, the café’s were filling with locals enjoying their morning coffee. Alassio is limited by the mountains behind and on each side, and a long beach and seafront with many bars and restaurants. Most interesting is the “Muretto di Alassio”, a bronze sculpture of two lovers on a wall with more than 550 signed tiles of visitors from the 1950’s and beyond. Including Ernest Hemmingway and many Italians from sport, politics, culture and fashion.

The story goes that in the 1950’s Alsassio was the meeting point for the jet set, thanks to one particular cafe, the Berrino family’s Caffè Roma. Mario Berrino loved showing his customers his album of autographs of the famous people who had visited his bar. But instead of keeping them in an album, Mario Berrino had an idea to put the signatures on ceramic tiles and set them up on a wall across from his cafe. So as to avoid any bureaucratic obstacles; one dawn Mario and a group of helpers secretly put up the first few tiles: Hemingway, Quartetto Cetra and Cosimo di Ceglie. The next day nobody complained, and in the following days more tiles were added. Today around 550 tiles can be found on the wall.

Leaving Alassio with a steep climb, quickly reaching 330m, the rest of the morning was very pleasant walk through forests with views of both the coast and inland towards Andora. The paths were good, and probably the reason there were many groups of walkers, mainly French walking towards Alassio.

The final descent into Andora, passed the castle and along a restored stone path. A very pleasant morning.

Lene picked me up in Andora and we drove back to Finale Ligure for the second part of today’s walk. Having a sweet tooth, one of the things I love about France, Spain and Italy are the miniature cakes. So, instead of having one cake one can have 3 or 4 (or more) miniature cakes and thereby taste the different cakes. We enjoyed a handful of them (each) before walking through the main pedestrian street in Finale Ligure. Lene and I had visited a colleague in the early 80’s here. His parents has a butchers, so we were on the look out to see if we recognised anything. Needless to say we didn’t.


I left the town along the river before following good path through the forest. It was a nice and easy climb, ca. 300m over 8km, initially on roads, then on a wide path, passing the odd house in the forest. I stopped for a coffee in the middle of nowhere and was served by the daughter of the owner of the restaurant. I asked if I could buy a cake or something sweet, she disappeared around the counter and came back with three biscuits and proudly told me that she had just baked them. She spoke perfect English (as do most of the younger Italians I spoke to), and loved life in a busy restaurant in the middle of nowhere. There are many caves in the area that attract many visitors and a lot of mountain bike riders, and that was the reason that there a handful of restaurants – I passed 4 and can see on the maps that there are several others as well.

Refreshed, I carried on and soon had a difficult choice. Walk an extra 3 or 4 kms along the excellent paths (the official route), or take a short cut along a path that I had no idea whether was good or bad – but I could see it was a steep decline. I decided for the short cut, it was steep and tough – I can see from Alltrails that there were -37% gradients. I met some people hanging streamers on trees along the path I was walking (if you could call it a path) – they told me that at the weekend there will be an extreme running competition where the participants run up the hill and much further!

I made it to Noli, a nice coastal village that was, at one point in history, the capital of a semi-independent republic. I was too tired to take a look around, but Lene visited the next day and it had a very nice old town. Whilst looking into my trip, I also read that many see it as the nicest village between France and Genoa.

Still feeling tired after the steep decline, I walked along the coast the last couple of kilometers to today’s destination, Spotorno. I am sure its long and sandy beach is packed during the summer months. As I walked along it, there were only a few people on the beach walking their dogs.

Lene met me as I entered the town, she had already checked into the hotel. We took a look around the town. Spotorno is yet another town with a historical centre, and the church was open! We took a drink before walking back to the hotel. We eat at the hotel and took the set menu, before going out to see the town by night. Like most of the towns along the coast at this time of year, not much was happening and we soon were back at the hotel and sat in the bar watching football on the TV.

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