Context and geography
The "Via del Sale" ("Salt Way", or "Salt Road") is a point-to-point route that crosses 4 Italian regions across the Appenini Ridge ('Appennini Liguri' or 'Appennini Settentrionali'), connecting the inland (Pianura Padana) to the Sea in Liguria.
Appennini starts near Genoa and continue South for the whole length of the Italian "boot", dividing the peninsula in two coastal area. The mountains around Genoa are quite steep on the coastal side and connect the Appennini, coming from East, with Alps, on the west side.
For that reason, the entire mid-section (~33km) of the route stays above 1000m asl, surging four times above 1500m asl, on three named peaks - Monte Chiappo, Monte Carmo and Monte Antola.
Overall, the course is 69km with around 2700m of vertical ascent, and it can be run or hiked, often completed anywhere from one to 4 days, with several restaurants and B&B available on the route for accommodation.
1:25,000 maps can also be purchased here https://www.lapietraverde.org/mappe-vie-del-sale.html or emailing email@example.com.
The route is deeply rooted in history meaning. Throughout Middle Ages, several Salt roads used to be to walked daily for commercial purposes.
This track used to be the mountain section of the route connecting Genoa with Pavia. Along the route, wool and weapons used to travel south (inland to the sea) to important commercial harbors on the coast and sea salt was brought back in the opposite direction.
Salt was extremely important and precious as it wasn't only used only for cooking but to cure and preserve meat and for leather tanning. In some instances, it was even used as a payment currency for work.
The routes are extremely narrow, single trails at time, along mountain ridges, meaning donkey-back was the only feasible transportation method along these routes. They weren't the easiest to follow but it was often done to protect the precious merchandise from bandits, to avoid river crossing and hefty custom fees from local feudal families.
To this very day, several routes are still open and followed by locals, with options to start and ends in several different places.
What to look out for
For a long section, the route runs along the border of two regions (Piemonte and Emilia Romagna), on a mountain ridge. People can enjoy 360 degree views along its entirety. Because of its legacy, several monastery, churches and small castles from lapsed noble families can be found along the way, some of which have been converted to B&B.
As it crosses 4 regions, the food, culture and architecture changes wildly across the length of the course. It is highly recommended people try a panino with Salame di Varzi and some local Caciotta cheese (and maybe stock up for the run), at the start in Varzi, and the typical Focaccia Ligure at the end in Sori.
Runners and hikers will also cross multiple national/natural parks/reserves.
For a list of other products to taste, head here https://www.lapietraverde.org/prodotti.html
Description of the route (start/end)
The route starts in Varzi. From the town centre one move west, crossing the bridge over the Staffora River. Immediately after the bridge, there is a sharp left turn into a gravel road (locally referred to as 'strada Bianca', literal translation white road). The road follow the river for about a km before turning inland and starting to climb up.
The route ends in Sori, at the Church of Sant' Apollinare, which you will find on your left at the end of the descending trail. Shortly before this (<1km), you pass another little grey-ish church (called Redentore di San Uberto) but do not stop there.
If you want to support the local community that maintains the trails, you can head here https://www.lapietraverde.org/credential.html
The official website appears to be www.leviedelsale.org, where you can find useful information and description of alternative routes.
There is a new route variation from Varzi to Recco, according to https://www.lapietraverde.org/ and group of runners who challenge themselves on this route.
This route variation is 70.5km long with 3,260m of ascent.
Ciao! Perchè la traccia va alla Trattoria al Serraglio sopra Recco? Inoltre vedo l'FKT moltiplicato 4 volte....