Italy Via Aurelia Via della Costa

Via della Costa – Conclusion

Spectacular villages nested on mountains or clinging to the coast, pastel coloured house, rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, high mounts and great food on top. What more could anybody setting off on a hike want?

Starting March 5th 2024, I walked for 16 days, 3 in France along the Via Aurelia and 13 in Italy along the Via della Costa. I walked a total of 412km (the route map said I should have walked 380km, so a few wrong turns etc.) an average of 25,7 km per stage. I walked for more than 30km in six of the stages. In addition, there was 12.500m elevation, not bad for a walk that contains the name “coast”. There was some, but not a lot of walking along the coast and a fair bit walking along roads – about 40% would be my estimate.

This stage was part of my overall plan to walk from Sagres in Portugal to Rome in Italy. This was the third stage of the plan, after walking from Sagres to A Coruna on the Spanish north coast last year over two stages, walking the Fisherman’s Trail, Camino Portugues and Lighthouse Way.

To be honest, I didn’t have many expectations about this walk. My primary motivation was to visit friends on the Cote d’Azur, see Cinque Terre and spend some vacation time with my wife – which we hadn’t really done for more than a few days at a time for a number of years. I expected that much of the walk would be a bit boring. I was wrong, so very wrong.

From my side, Via della Costa comes highly recommended. The walking is not super challenging, but also by no means trivial.

  • 12,500m ascent over 16 days requires a certain level of fitness, not least taking into account that many of the ascents and descents were steep, at times very steep, and often on a rocky path (and at times with lose stones).
  • The signage is also not great. I very much doubt that one would be able to complete this trip without support from a GPS. The Sentiero Liguria is signed, but does not follow the exact same route, and even here the signs are missing at times.
  • The paths are of extremely varying quality. Both in France and Italy I got the impression that hiking does not have the same economic impact as the Camino’s in Spain, and therefore there aren’t the same resources to maintain the paths. This was most pronounced before Genova, after Genova the paths were of a higher quality.
  • There is some road walking, often along the busy SS1
  • You don’t meet other walkers – I met ca. 20 other walkers, doing one day or few day walks, and handful of groups. Nobody I spoke to was walking the coast, in fact nobody had any idea that the route existed.

Non of the above points detract from my overall impression of a great walk – although I must admit that whilst in the middle of a rocky descent, or walking along the SS1 in rain, they perhaps filled more for me, than when I look back.

So why was this a great walk? The answer is simple. At every corner, up and down every hill, there was something new, something spectacular, something beautiful to see. My pictures by no means do it justice. The walks in France and before Genova were great, after Genova, passing through Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure, Sestri Lavante, Levanto, the villages of Cinque Terre and all the small villages in between, they were always beautiful, often spectacular. At the end of pretty much each climb there were fantastic views along the coast, inland or of the different towns and villages.

Mid-April, I start the 4th stage of Sagres to Rome, walking from Santander to A Coruna, along the Camino Norte to Rochela, the Cantabrian Sea Nature Trail between Rochela and Ortigueria and Costa Gallega from Ortigueria and A Coruna, so I’ll have something to compare with.

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