Climbing on the coastal cliffs in Liguria
Climber's paradise certainly exists in Liguria, in the area of Finale Ligure. The site was discovered by mountaineering enthusiasts who started climbing on the steep rock faces back in 1968
1. An open-air gymnasium
In the territory of the municipality of Finale Ligure free-climbers will find a “gym” perfectly suited to their needs located within the natural environment thanks to the particular morphological features of the area and its limestone rock, with hand grips and foot holds which are ideal for climbing. There are 3,500 climbing routes and about 200 specially-equipped walls. The first routes were established in 1968 by the brothers Gianluigi and Eugenio Vaccari.
Here, where the cliffs stand out against a spectacular backdrop, every route is a new discovery in itself. The surrounding mountain ranges covered by richly verdant Mediterranean maquis offer a contrast to the light limestone and some of these magnificent areas present peaks rising high above the sea, sparkling and luminescent beneath the sun.
One may walk leisurely up to these higher points, becoming absorbed by the scenery and slowly savouring its beauty. In this splendid dimension you will become mentally calm and attain the concentration required for your performance.
2. Choosing the right cliff
The rock formations in the Finale Ligure area present a vast range of levels of difficulty, with diverse rock-wall inclinations and morphological features which make them suitable for everyone, from true experts to those who have only just begun to acquire the skills necessary for this sporting activity. The guides, who may also be voluntary assistants, are available for people engaging in the climbing experience and will provide suitable advice, accompanying visitors and offering ad-hoc courses. Climbing may be practised all year round, thanks to the local climate which is mild during every season of the year. You should always check to make sure climbing activities have not been suspended during the period when you intend to visit this location. This may happen for brief periods to allow for the nesting of birds of prey.
3. Inside an enormous rock cylinder with views over the sea
An unforgettable experience? You should not miss the opportunity offered by the Grotta dell'Edera, immersed in the dense woodland of Monte Sordo. It is now possible to descend into the void of a “cylinder” which appears beneath the open sky, following the collapse of an upper vault, venturing into the internal space and climbing on the walls.
Here you will find yourself in the core of a wild, natural dimension which can not be explored in any other way: a privilege possessed only by rock climbers.
The rock formation known as Bric Pianarella is quite amazing on account of its gigantic size, considering its height and extension, and due to its many routes presenting various characteristics. In the lower sections some of the more dramatic, vertical routes are covered in soothing vegetation but then you simply have to cope with the bare rock.
If, on the other hand, you are seeking closer contact with the marine setting the right destination may be Capo Noli, where the cliffs plunge directly into a perfectly blue stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. During periods of bad weather Finale Ligure also offers indoor climbing facilities, where one may engage in useful training sessions.
4. A climbing and trekking formula
The official guides in the Finale area have invented a new activity in order to emphasize the close relationship between sporting activities and the exploitation of surrounding environments. Now also referred to as a “Trek-Spot-Climb” experience the activity combines trekking and climbing. The combination involves walking along country pathways, climbing at certain points of the journey and returning to a vigorous hike. The itineraries are well planned; the longest are formed by ring routes and some also include a visit to the spectacular grottos. This is an adventurous and highly exciting way to explore this part of the Liguria region.
5. Afterwards you may feel like going on a mini-shopping spree, having an aperitif and going off for a dip in the blue water
Within the municipal district of Finale Ligure numerous villages situated between the coast and the inland area are worth visiting.
If after spending time on the cliffs and the rock formations you would like to spend a few hours in a marine environment on the splendid Riviera di Ponente, you may decide to head off towards Finalmarina, where the long beach with its seaside facilities and bathing resorts offers an ideal solution for relaxation, while entertainment during the evening is ensured by the presence of numerous bars, restaurants and clubs.
The favourite place for climbers - and also cyclists - is Finalborgo, a village surrounded by medieval walls with a very quiet, appealing atmosphere reminiscent of past ages. At this location you may easily find people whose sporting interests are similar to yours and with whom you will be tempted to engage in discussions, exchanging information about the routes and cliffs in the district. This would be the right place to visit if that is your intention, and thanks also to the presence of outlets that specialise in climbing equipment.
In the evening the wine bars or beer houses are popular venues and you may enjoy an aperitif served with a typical Italian “bruschetta” appetizer and some delicious olives, perhaps followed by a local Ligurian beverage, such as the well-known Vermentino or Pigato white wines, but also the more rare Lumassina, a typical local wine variant from Finale, also produced in a sparkling version. Served with ice, this is a “must-have” drink in the summer months.
As you walk through the squares and alleyways at Finalborgo you may be tempted to enter one of the bakeries to try a piece of Ligurian focaccia. Remember that local people would normally have their focaccia for breakfast, when it is freshly baked.