WHEN Saturday, June 16 - Sunday, June 17 2018
WHAT Road trip to bathe and hike
WHERE Pietra Ligure; Pian delle Bosse
WHO A bunch of office-caged friends who just needed to get away
You are working 9 to 5 and it’s been an exhausting week. The sun against the office windows is burning you out: summer is coming. You just need a getaway. You don’t know what to choose between seaside and mountainside. You don’t want to go too far, but definitely far enough from the city. (The city being Milan)
What are you going to do?
Luckily for you, here is an intriguing option which will tick all the boxes for “the perfect getaway weekend”. Pack your backpack, jump in the car, head to Liguria.
Liguria is mostly known being the most accessible seaside place for people coming from Lombardia or Piemonte. But so little do we known about its hinterland, and this is a pity. So here’s a cool combo you’ve got to try: one day in Pietra Ligure beach, and one day in Pian delle Bosse.
In terms of mobility, a car is the most convenient means of transportation in this case, as you will have to reach different places, not necessarily accessible to public transport - but brace yourselves as you will find traffic jam. Pack some snacks and pump some good music.
The Route You have 3 highway options: A7 and A10/E80; A26; A21/E70. Direction Genova-Ventimiglia. Exit right at Pietra Ligure
Our group of friends met up on Saturday, 7 am - we left early in the morning to be able to get to the seaside at a decent time. Which did work out as we got there at 10:30 am. Naturally, we went straight to the beach: avoid those private beaches (“bagni”, pretty common in Italy but rather pricy) and find yourself a spot in free areas - and here you will find sand, which is pretty rare for the region.
The water was just amazing on Saturday, quite chilly in the morning, but perfectly fresh and crystal-clear in the afternoon. And luckily, the beach was not even packed with people - it truly was a bliss.
You’ve got plenty of choice for lunch - however, it is best to indulge in an easy and quick but super tasty focaccia, and why not some ice cream before a well deserved nap (and some card-playing, with some trashy Italian oldies playing from the loud speaker… oh well, don’t judge, it was good fun!). Charge your batteries, and then get back into water, twice or thrice. Till the sun starts its descent.
To reach Pian delle Bosse, it is best to leave no later than 6pm. It takes about 30 mins by car to the closest parking lot - but beware, the road gets pretty steep and bumpy - so you’d better check beforehand if your car can make it to the top! After that, it is a 40 mins hike to the top of the hill - the available route was also a little steep at times, but overall doable for not-so-pro hikers like myself. Once you get to the top of the hill (about 600m above sea), the view is just breathtaking: the first thing you see is a tasty fountain of mountain water - and right behind, a cute red & white lodge, surrounded by 50 shades of green. And cats!
But what’s best of this place is definitely the view: just turn your head around, and you will be able to see the sea - from a mountaintop. Way to go!
The place is run by Valentina and Lorenzo, a lovely young couple from Tuscany that literally treat guests as part of one big family. Prior to entering, take off your shoes and put on complimentary flip flops. The interiors are simple but curated to the piece. You’d better bring your own blanket and pillow case, but no worries - pillows and mattresses are clean and hygienized, plus the beds are equipped with fleece covers. But you know the top part of this place? Yeah, you guessed it - food. It is freaking amazing: for € 20 you will get tons of local and home-made appetizers, warm soup, pasta or risotto (as if the soup was not enough) as entrée, and meat-course with salad. And home-made cakes. All accompanied by free flow of red wine. How - just how can you resist to such delicious abundance? And the coolest thing is that you really feel like you are family with the other guests - you talk, you laugh, you try to keep quiet as the school kids are already asleep but just can’t stop laughing with The Tipsy Guy - who is apparently a mushroom expert… What a fun night you will have!
The next morning we woke up almost naturally around 8 am, and had breakfast with yet another amazing food court: home-made jams and pies to ensure you the sweetest Sunday wake-up. We decided to go hiking to the top of Monte Carmo di Loano (a bit over 1300m above sea) - an enjoyable 2-hour long excursion among beech trees and blue sky. Too bad for the insane amount of flies (due to pastures proximity), but we did enjoy quite a view…
Quick tip: bring enough water with you as there are no water sources along the way, and bring some insect spray with you as well - better safe than sorry.
We decided to return to the lodge right after having lunch on the top - and by 2:30 pm or so we laid down on the grass and relaxed our muscles after the hike. As it was still early in the afternoon, we decided to (sadly) leave this enchanted place and their lovely tenants, climbed back down the hill and got to our cars - and back again to the beach. Because nothing is more relaxing and worries-chasing than a swim in the sea at a Sunday sunset. Even more so, if you are with the ones you love 💙
True - all good things must come to an end… but not before having a good old fish-and-seafood-based dinner. We booked a table at Il Gambero: quick service, fair prices, tasty food - what else Too bad for the location - right behind a gas station - but the outdoor patio manages to cover up the surroundings pretty decently, so you kind of forget about it while you are enjoying your spaghetti and clams.
After so much sun, nature, relax and fun - and unfortunately a super long queue on the way back - I still managed to get by a pretty busy Monday.
And I still got sand in my shoes.