A region I disregard

Ligurian roads systematically closed

Ok, let me just com­plain for once. Complaining is healthy. Studies says that your little toe hurts less when you smash it if shout­ing curses out loud, so com­plain­ing should have a sim­il­ar effect. I did not enjoy Liguria.

Let’s start with the nice side. A coast­line of cliffs along that Mediterranean Sea we all highly regard (or at least we do in Europe). A large num­ber of nice beaches to swim in, and nice views over the top of the hills. The views improve over oblique sun­light, that is, at sun­rise or sun­set, when the hori­zon dyes itself in a palette of yel­low and red tones that give a nice con­trast with the blue sea and the dark green veget­a­tion of the hills.

Now: so what!? The Mediterranean is bloody large, and this piece is not unique in any aspect. Oblique sun­light will have that warm effect in the hori­zon almost every­where. Vegetation is a typ­ic­al south-Mediterranean: yel­low­ish dry scruff with some dark olive green trees, that hav­ing grown up in Spain I find it rather bor­ingly nor­mal to say the least. Hills are mostly a strata of slates and gran­ite that makes it an inter­est­ing sur­face to climb, but not of a dimen­sion inter­est­ingly enough to see. The only thing is the mix of warm hori­zon in the blue sea on top of a hill… And again, for god’s sake you get that along many thou­sands of kilo­metres over the Mediterranean, not to name oth­er Seas in the world.

Still, it’s not la crème de la crème, but it’s very nice, isn’t it? Yeah well, it’s okay­ish. I just, to make it worse, could­n’t enjoy it. More than 200km of noth­ing but small hills with dan­ger­ous des­cents to begin with. Just one small hill after the oth­er, and anoth­er and anoth­er: exhausted I was, for noth­ing. Not a single flat­land, noth­ing easy to ride on, plenty of closed roads, plenty of for­bid­den ways. No hosts, no warm food, just sleep­ing raw in the streets and not shower­ing for three days. And it’s not that I could at least enjoy the des­cents, you know, I like speed and that: no, des­cents were of high traffic, very short spaces, and dan­ger­ous pro­nounced curves on top of a cliff, all the time. I had nev­er heard my brakes mak­ing those noises, nev­er, not even in the Alps.

Alps, you might com­pare: there is one huge factor involved, the most import­ant of all: motiv­a­tion. I wanted to cross the Alps from the begin­ning, it was my goal and my moment of hero­ism. One huge climb where the high­er I went the more rewar­ded I felt and the more ener­gies I obtained. And the view: those were tall sharp rocks span­ning over a type of ter­rain I love much more than sea: earth, large sum­mits, and shiny green veget­a­tion. And then, my reward: the des­cent. Liguria had none of that ini­tial interest, it was actu­ally quite the most nor­m­al­ish thing of all to vis­it, and too many things went wrong.

The day to La Spezia was the intense one. I was already exhausted from the pre­vi­ous day and that night I barely slept in the rocks (we just threw our sleep­ing bags in some nice beach). My motiv­a­tion was doomed from the last day, but even though I barely slept, I felt a bit bet­ter after swim­ming in the sea and play­ing a bit of climb­ing in those rocks. Then we did some for­bid­den tun­nels, some hell of hills, and Leon’s rear tyre exploded. Yeah, the tyre, not the tube. And it exploded, not just a clas­sic flat. Fearing that it was not a fix­able thing, I star­ted laugh­ing instead of cry­ing, until Leon poin­ted out some band­ages. There we found a way to con­tin­ue with a wheel whose pro­tuber­a­tion was grow­ing up quick, until the nearest bike shop in Fossano, where we got a new tyre, and a mes­sage from a pos­sible host. Happy day after all seems like.

But then the host stopped answer­ing after ask­ing us for a selfie, not to our mes­sages nor to the calls. We con­tin­ued, at night, going on top of the Cinque Terre Park hills, until we found out that a road was cut off due to some land­slides, and the only pos­sible way was down to Vernazza in a des­cent that made our fin­gers very numb from break­ing. Down there we found ourselves in a very very small and quite stand­ard vil­lage over­pop­u­lated by tour­ists con­sum­ing quite expens­ive food and drinks, with no space at all to sleep, being illeg­al to camp, not in a good mood and with too much noise around. It was enough for me. I deman­ded to take a train out of that bloody region. Which then had too nar­row cor­ridors that forced me to detach the lug­gage of the bike in the last minute… Hell how com­pletely out burned I was! Not even want­ing to look for food, even passing three kebabs on the way, there was only one thing I wanted: a piece of silent grass to sleep in. We found it in some res­id­en­tial out­skirts of La Spezia.

The day after, still very much mad and hes­it­at­ing to even try the Apennines, I deman­ded a hostel. Over our budget, but at least the pre­vi­ous days where cheap. A day of rest­ing, and I woke up com­pletely decided to cross the Apennines in just one day, just out of spite, to Parma, to later go to Modena and Bologna before recross­ing to Firenze. No way I would give up what I actu­ally wanted for some­thing I actu­ally des­pise. And that was a bloody per­fect road!

A view from the Apennines Pass

Santissima Annunziata del Vastato, Genova, Liguria
Santissima Annunziata del Vastato, Genova

One thing I have to say in favour of Liguria: they have Genova. Absolutely gor­geous city. The labyrinth centre is totally awe­some to ride a bike in. Tall build­ings with very nar­row streets, a fea­ture that reminded me of many places in Andalusia, Spain. Don’t miss Genova if you’re vis­it­ing the region, but take the rest with a pinch of salt.

One Reply to “A region I disregard”

  1. […] at the title pic­ture above. That was a dis­astrous day’s night (the one pre­ced­ing even big­ger dis­tress) and I can assure you that this expres­sion­ist mess was not a con­scious styl­istic decision, […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.