Italy Via della Costa

Day 9: Spotorno to Celle Ligure

Don’t trust the weather forecast. I did 🙁 . Wild boar, Danish art by Asger Jorn and Olmo bicycles.

A shorter walk today, 23 km and a mere 538m in ascent. The day started in the forest before reaching the coast and staying there through Savona and onto Celle Ligure.

The weather forecast said cloudy, but no rain. I trusted it. Lene, based on the dark louds overhead, insisted that I took my rain cape with me.

There were a lot of stairs out of Spotorno, before reaching wide forest paths. I couldn’t see the coast, only inland, and even that was soon limited because of low lying cloud. I was stopped in my tracks by an Italian with a dog. He told me to be careful because of “cinghiale” – his dog had refused to continue, so he was heading back. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any telephone coverage, as we didn’t know the English translation. I decided to head on, with a watchful eye. It wasn’t a small dog he had, so I was a bit worried. I didn’t experience anything and later found out that it was wild boar.

After 3 or 4 kms it started to rain. I wasn’t that high up, 250m asl., but I was walking in cloud and getting wet. Luckily I had my cape with me!  But as it wasn’t supposed to rain, I didn’t have my waterproof shoes on. The dirt path turned into a rock path, which was slippery even when I wasn’t descending, so the steep decline into the outskirts of Vado Ligure was tackled very, very gingerly. I did not feel 100% safe.

My camera was packed away, so I didn’t take many pictures, but there wasn’t much to see. On the coast, I followed the main road (SS1) into Savona. It was still raining and the road was busy – not very exciting. Lene texted me that she was close by, so I took a detour (it was easier for me to walk to her than for her to find a new parking spot closer to me!) and we took a coffee and cake whilst the rain died down.

I continued along the coast, passing the fort in Savona, Fortezza del Priamar, now a series of museums with art work displayed outside, and past the port. There was a man walking a few meters ahead of me. As he walked past parked cars he pulled the door handle to see if the door opened. Luckily non of the doors were unlocked – I don’t know what I would have done if one had opened.

There was a man walking a few meters ahead of me. As he walked past parked cars he pulled the door handle to see if the door opened. Luckily non of the doors were unlocked – I don’t know what I would have done if one had opened. I’d taken a warmer jacket from the car when I’d met Lene, but now the sun came out. Just as I was taking my jacket off, Lene pulled up in the car on her way to Celle Ligure – today’s destination – so I could give it to her again.

I continued along the coast, past the harbour before arriving in Albisola. I was surprised to see the boardwalk covered in mosaic artwork from different artists. I was even more surprised to see that one of the mosaics was by Asger Jorn, the Danish painter and sculptor. It turns out that he had a summer house in Albisola, that is now a museum. There was 20+ pieces of mosaic art on the boardwalk and several other pieces of art.

When I set off walking in the morning, I have little idea of what to expect, beyond hoping that I will make it OK to my destination. Today, after an awful and wet morning with nothing to see, and semi-dangerous decline to follow, it is both fantastic and uplifting to experience the work that has gone into making this boardwalk into something interesting and beautiful – and the sun had come out as well. It never ceases to surprise me how often a day can go from “bad” to “good”, and sometimes the opposite way.

Uplifted, I continued along the coast towards the small fishing village of Celle Ligure, with its multi coloured houses visible from afar. I watched three workers hanging from a clifftop securing a wire blanket to the face of the cliff to stop erosion and stones falling onto the road below.

I met Lene at the edge of town and we walked to our hotel just past town. After a shower, we went for a walk into town and hit upon a cycle shop selling Olmo bicycles. We went inside, and spoke to a lady who told us that this was the original Olmo bicycle factory. In 1939, four years after setting the World Hour Record, Giuseppe Olmo, nicknamed “Gepin”, retired from a successful cycling career. Straight afterwards he set up a bicycle manufacture in Celle Ligure together with his brothers Franco, Giovanni and Michele. The traditional company is still in production today.

Why am I interested? In 1988 I bought an Olmo frame from a work colleague. It was lying around for 30 years until Lene took it to a vintage bicycle shop and had it made up, so I can cycle on it – in good weather.

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