The old salt road is part of a network of trading routes in northwest Italy that have been walked for more then a thousand years. Merchants carrying precious salt from the coast would cross the mountains to trade goods with the plains, returning laden with wheat, wine and cheese. But these days it’s almost empty and forgotten. More then just a hike, walking the old salt road is a chance to visit parts of Italy that few tourists get to see. And you’ll be treated to great views, full plates and bottomless glasses of wine. Here’s a few photos from my adventure …
The route begins in the fertile wine-growing plains of Oltrepo Pavese, about 50 miles north of Genoa.
At the snug valley town of Varzi, I wandered the colourful medieval streets as bell towers chimed and the Apennine Mountains loomed steeply before me.
The high ridges of the Apennines were empty and silent. I walked for 3 days and saw more deer then people.
There is nothing more sweetly smug then being on top of a mountain before the rest of the world’s had its breakfast.
Lost, I rounded a corner into this field of wild horses. I sat quietly as they grazed around me for more then an hour. Sometimes the best adventures happen when you least expect them.
The technicolour fishing port of Camogli on the Ligurian coast. Charles Dickens called this “the saltiest, most piratical town” but it’s hard to believe that now …
Dawn in Camogli. I watched the fishermen sail out into the vastness of the Mediterranean and then waited for the sun to come over the mountains.
The Sagra di Pesce, and annual fish festival held in this small local town. Tonight they will burn this giant wooden effigy of a Lego sailor. Tomorrow they will cook free fish risotto in the world’s largest frying pan. I love the bizarreness of the world.
Fireworks on my last night on the old salt road …
I walked the old salt road self-guided but through a tour operator On Foot Holidays.
They provided detailed route notes, made all the bookings in a selection of simple, but authentically Italian B&B’s (all with excellent kitchens & generous wine pourers!) and arranged for my bag to be transported each day. It’s great to go on adventures off your own back, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little easier too.
If you’re interested in finding out more information on the trip I have a bunch of articles coming out over summer 2013 and will be letting people know the details through Twitter and Facebook. After that I will be putting up my own write up and some extra bits and pieces here on the site too.
Alternatively you can just drop me a line and we’ll have a chat – always happy to talk about travelling and I’ll try and answer any questions you may have.