Autumn foliage: hunting for colours in Ligurian parks

Mild weather, an explosion of colours in thousands of warm hues, crunching leaves under your boots, the scent of moss… autumn in Liguria is the best season to satisfy all five senses during a relaxing walk in its Natural Parks.

Immerse yourself in the woods of the Apennines and the Ligurian Alps and let yourself be enchanted by the extraordinary beauty of foliage, the spectacle dictated by nature in which the leaves are tinged with warm, fascinating hues before the arrival of winter.

The parks of Liguria are territories that are as rich in biodiversity as they are different in their peculiarities and locations. Which foliage hiking trails are not to be missed in the autumn period?

The National Park of Montemarcello-Magra-Vara
The Montemarcello-Magra-Vara Park is one of the most striking places in eastern Liguria for foliage: deciduous plants, such as downy oaks and turkey oaks, dominate the river side of the Caprione Promontory in the southern part of the protected area. One of the most popular excursions is the classic route that connects the centre of Bocca di Magra on the Magra river and the splendid historic centre of Lerici, the gem of the Gulf of Poets, passing through the village of Montemarcello, one of the most beautiful in Italy.The park includes also the Vara Valley, located in the Ligurian part of the ancient region of Lunigiana, which is characterized by the phenomenon of foliage: the woods along the river of the same name, with its unspoilt nature, provide enchanting peculiar autumnal hues.

The Cinque Terre National Park
As in all seasons, also in autumn the Cinque Terre Park enchants with its intense colours reflecting on the sea. Along the park’s path network, you will admire the silvery hues of the lemon leaves, the intense green of the olive trees and the bright, fiery hues of the vines. Follow the itineraries to the sea that cross the terraces hosting vineyards and saffron plantations and let yourself be fascinated by the scents, flavours and colours of the Cinque Terre.

The Aveto Park
In the Genoa hinterland, behind the Gulf of Tigullio, the Aveto Park offers many routes to admire the spectacle of the changing colour of tree leaves. Not to be missed are the paths of the Scoglina loop – a 16 km hike to the summit of Monte Caucaso, where a warm refuge and a section of the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri are waiting for you – and the Ravezza waterfall in the Lame forest. The two hikes, very different in terms of both difficulty and views, allow you to admire the splendid views from the sea to the Alps in the west and the Apennines in the east, here where three Genoese valleys meet: the Fontanabuona Valley, the Aveto Valley and the Trebbia Valley.

The Antola Park
This park is still in the province of Genoa: between the Scrivia and Trebbia Valleys lies the Antola Natural Park, which in the autumn season changes its appearance completely. As temperatures begin to drop, the thick foliage of the shrubs takes on hues ranging from yellow ochre to deep fiery red. Once again, the best way to discover this iridescent spectacle is to follow the walking trails suggested by the park, which will guide you along the beech forest around Lake Brugneto. The largest reservoir in Liguria reflects the intense colours of the plants that surround the pathway along the lake, creating a kaleidoscopic effect that will leave speechless young and old alike.

The Beigua Park
The beech forests in the Beigua Park are some of the most characteristic environments of this protected area. The various scenic trails will amaze you with their richness of nuances, such as the route along the Loop of the Deiva Forest in the municipality of Sassello, which will also welcome you with its internationally renowned delicious sweets – the amaretti biscuits of Sassello – or the hikes on the Faiallo Pass along the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri.

The Melogno and Barbottina beech forests
Between Finale Ligure and Calizzano, in the province of Savona, lie the Melogno hill forest and the Barbottina state forest. The latter is home to some of the monumental beeches, centuries-old tall trees that reach 50 metres in height. And in autumn, when the weather gets cooler, these shrubs keep the warmth and make the undergrowth even more magical. These paths can be discovered on foot or by bike, with one’s loved ones or friends.

The Park of the Ligurian Alps
In the far west of Liguria, the Park of the Ligurian Alps, with its trails, is no less impressive. Between October and November, the Rezzo woods, with their ancient Roman bridges, take on shades ranging from yellow to orange. The largest beech forest in Liguria should definitely be on your “to visit” list, both to learn a little about ancient Ligurian history and to admire incredible views. Enter the Arroscia Valley, where the village of Rezzo is located, and pass through the Argentina Valley to the municipality of Molini di Triora to fully enjoy one or more days in Liguria.