Did you know that the Italian Riviera is also a part of the Alps? The Maritime Alps go down to the Mediterranean sea, and you will believe it, when you are in Finale Ligure.
First of all, the landscape of Finale reminds more of the mountains than of the sea. Big cliff walls, green woods and wild birds. Ancient villages clinging at the mountain sides, and it is a place for sheep and wild mushrooms.
Moreover, the people that use to travel to Finale are mostly climbers and downhill bikers from all over the world. you will rather find outdoor gears than swimming suits.
But at the same time there are some fine pearls at sea, that you should not miss, such as the longest sandy beach of this area in the village of Varigotti, and the Cetacean Sanctuary, a triangle between Genova, Nice and Sardinia, passing this coast. Good to plunge in the sparkling clean water after playing on the “falesia” or refreshing from the mud of the bike trails, especially “off season”, when the beach is still free from the tourist establishment.
Want to know more? Follow us and read our story. In fact thealps have been there with our guests, and we have found a perfect place for the most genuine experience of Finale Ligure. I am soon going to write more about where we were lodged, a magic mixture of farm, castle and chapel! Read next blog to know about the agriturismo Il Bandito e La Principessa.
But for the moment I would like you to know more about the area. The town of Finale is composed by different parts: one is the town on the beach, perhaps the one you can imagine in the Italian Riviera style, with palms and lots of uninteresting restaurants, shopping strokes and hotels, each one like the other, expensive and pretty ugly.
An other is the Medieval village a bit back off the coast, Finalborgo, with its intimate main square where climbers and bikers join after playing all day, to have a drink or an ice cream, or both, at the Café Centrale, followed sometimes by a visit at the Spaghetteria Sotto il Santo for dinner.
This main square is also very well known for 2 epic shops, Rockstore and Rivieraoutdoor (with the slogan”Everything for your bike – free beer”) which are meeting points for all the “real men” of the area. The owners of the first one are not only climbers and bikers, they have also published the most complete guides for climbing and biking in Finale, a bible for the many followers.
Then there is also a more secluded area uphill, a few kilometers from the beach, places where you will see more wild pigs than people, villages with imaginary names as Orco (Orch…), Altare, Caviglia. Here you are in the most beautiful environment, if you like breath taking views and the smell of rosemary of the Mediterranean jungle.
Here is where the playing is going on: there are more than 2000 marked climbing walls and hundreds of marked downhill or MTB trails in the wild forests around Finale Ligure. All levels are represented and it makes this area an internationally well known playground for these adrenaline liberating sports.
thealps tried biking on the Altopiano delle Manie, a plateau hanging 300 meters above Varigotti and Noli. Breath taking views from the vertical cliffs plunging in the sea. The trails we chosed suited our level of capability on a bike, which is barely touristic, but were sometimes cut by some real fast and furious biker on one of the most advanced downhill trails. Hang on!
We also tried climbing on the cliffs called the Orera, were there are ways on the right level for us (from 4 to 5). The natural stone is calcare and the erosion of water and winds builds moon formed walls that are perfect for climbing, with many holes for hands and feet. Our guides tell us that it can be a problem with so many holes, because you can make so many errors when you have so many possibilities and an error when you are on an advanced wall means that you fall or that you must start over from the beginning again.
But there are also trails for people who like hiking and trekking and horse back riding as well. Not to talk about the many historical sites you will stumble on in the woods, from the hundreds of natural caves formed during thousends of years, to the chapels inherited from the Middle Age, and the Arabian fortification towers, against the innumerable invasions from the sea. If you want to know more about this fascinating history you should visit the Museo Archeologico in Finalborgo, in a rainy day…