Let’s kick off this new edition of our imaginary tours with a little confession, real.
Last time, on my way back from Sanremo, I didn’t go straight back to Milan. I stayed in Liguria for a day longer, intrigued by a walk that a lot of people had told me about and that I had been wanting to do for a long time.
On Monte di Portofino – which we had already visited a couple of years ago – in addition to the famous village loved by the jet-set, and in addition to the Abbey loved by the Benedictines, there’s a spit of land that reaches out into the sea. A spit of rock, to tell the truth.
This is Punta Chiappa, which can only be reached by boat or with a beautiful walk through the lush landscape. We’ll leave the car in San Rocco, just above Camogli. I’m almost tempted to pop into the church and say a little prayer – I haven’t been walking for quite some time, and today will be a trek. But I don’t want to seem blasphemous: best to leave the saints to something more significant than the lactic acid of a rusty hiker... ;)
Let’s begin the walk and the descent to the sea: a couple of kilometres surrounded by nature await. Liguria’s flora has always fascinated me. Forests of holm oak, chestnut and maritime pine cling to steep slopes. Here and there, there are small manmade terraces built to carve out a few tiny plots for farming. These are bordered by the famous dry stone walls, the construction technique for which has been on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2018.
Our route alternates between steps and dirt paths. It is littered with acorns and leaves and veins running through the ground – tangles of roots stretching out on the hunt for nourishment.
In the sections most exposed to the wind and the salty spray, the woods give way to Mediterranean scrub. The smell of undergrowth transforms into the scent of myrtle or mastic and, as we approach the water, the aroma of salt. Behind the foliage, sea and sky merge to form a deep and beautiful blue.
Here we are at Punta Chiappa, a dark rock that slopes gently into the water. The sea is calm today, but I can imagine how this place would be transformed on stormy days: it would definitely disappear, submerged beneath waves and foam. And with that idea, I decide to turn around!
Now for the best part: tackling the ascent and a thousand steps. Regretting not saying a prayer, I focus on the road. What really gets me moving is the prospect of an indulgent aperitivo up at San Rocco, sitting comfortably on a bench overlooking the sea with a little beer and, of course, a nice bit of focaccia. Around here, it’s low-rise bread with only a little yeast, sprinkled with an emulsion of extra-virgin olive oil (Ligurian, of course) and coarse-grain salt. I don’t know if Ligurian focaccia is already on UNESCO’s heritage list, but if not, they need to see to that as soon as possible...
Like an orange balloon, the sun is disappearing over the horizon: no more stalling, no more beer, no more focaccia... now it really is time to go home. Milan, here I come!
Have a good week, everyone.