Ligurian Alps, high peaks and deep abyss

Sunset over the Ligurian Alps | P. Bolla

Go and look behind the Ranges.
Something lost behind the Ranges.
Lost and waiting for you.

R. Kipling

The South-Western Alps have a heart of limestone called the Ligurian Alps, sub-division of the Maritime Alps stretching from the Colle di Cadibona to the Colle di Tenda. The Ligurian Alps have a hollow heart right in the middle of the Marguareis Park, the Marguareis Massif. This mysterious plateau has a hidden beat in the depths of the subsoil: walking along the paths of the Park you can almost feel the irregular lub dub//.

In the Ligurian Alps, because of the rock's nature, something may be hidden under the mountains, in the dark belly of the limestone massif that extends west of Pizzo d'Ormea. It is in this stretch that the Ligurian Alps offer up their highest peaks, hiding the deepest abyss. On the northern side, the Marguareis and Mongioie massifs offer adventure-loving mountaineers rocks that at times are not exactly solid. To the south, they indulge in the peaceful herds of cows, with soft, sunny pastures, where the gaze gets drunk with light and gets lost in the sea in the distance.

The Tanaro Valley, the Corsaglia Valley, the Ellero Valley and the Pesio Valley have such different and at the same time familiar characters that they look like four sisters. The Val Tanaro is a long, varied mosaic of environments that culminates with narrow limestone gorges before opening into the basin of Upega dominated by the larch forest of the Bosco delle Navette. Less touristy, decidedly wooded, with a wild and introverted character, the charming Valle Corsaglia. The Val Ellero climbs steeply from Rastello to Pian Marchisa, then opens into an open, sunny valley crossed by the youthful Ellero torrent. This is the valley that a child would draw, with the triangular Mongioie peak in the background and the Mondovì refuge on the right. Heart of the Park, with its fir woods and its pastures, the Valle Pesio is a world of green tones on light rocks: from the dark green of the fir woods to the fifty shades of green of the high altitude pastures. On the French side, the wonderfulValle Roya, full of history and beauty, medieval villages, spectacular paths, scented with Scots Pine and brackish notes, unwinds towards the Mediterranean between steep limestone walls.

In the Ligurian Alps, between a pasture and a scree slope, between a doline and a furrowed field, between a scree slope and a small lake, the careful eye of the naturalist can see an impressive variety of plant species peep out from the richest botanical open-air garden in Europe. Here you can see roe deer and chamois grazing, busy marmots, eagles patrolling the sky, and black cocks challenging each other at their leks in spring.

The Ligurian Alps and the territory of the Park are a world of their own: imposing temporary waterfalls, dreamy clearings, small villages, pastures, limestone lunar basins and relaxing meadows, fairytale forests, lights, colours, atmospheres. Those who have frequented these places for a lifetime will not stop coming back again: because there are endless corners to discover and because the mountains change their mood and appearance depending on the season, the time of day, the thoughts of those who walk through them. Discovering the landscape and learning to belong to it are "vices" that require time and patience, but there are some places to see and experience that anyone who wants to get an idea of this corner of the Alps cannot absolutely miss...

Punta Marguareis

A hollow mountain, with a stone face and a meadow face – and a mysterious hollow belly.

Cima delle Saline

A wave of rock that is about to break on the upper Ellero Valley: here is the Cima delle Saline seen from the north-east.

Pian Ballaur

Pian Ballaur, the peak on which witches dance, is a long ridge between Cima delle Saline and Colle del Pas.