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!
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.