The wonders of Aveto… trekking and wild horses

Paradise exists. And it has a name: Aveto Natural Park.

In the most unspoilt nature, where wild horses graze, immersed in the fine, flower-scented air, amidst the green of the mountains and a view as far as the sea, a phrase about American Indians read some time ago will immediately come to your mind: “for you white men paradise is in heaven, for us paradise is the earth”.

The Aveto Park is like this: at times wild, but always welcoming, and above all ready to amaze you at every turn with its glimpses of the Ligurian valleys, the sea, and the biodiversity that dominates this natural habitat.

With 3,000 hectares of protected area, it would take a lifetime to get to know all the remote corners of this territory. Would you like to get to know some of them? Imagine you are in Borzonasca, where one of the Park’s headquarters is located.

There are extraordinary people here, like Evelina and Paola, who for years have been emphasizing the importance of safeguarding wild horses, the undisputed protagonists of the Aveto Park valleys. These equines live in total freedom in the purest nature, having recovered their wild spirit and adapted to their surroundings in perfect harmony with human activities.

To fully experience this Ligurian park, one must spend a few days here. The starting point can be malga Perlezzi, a refuge amidst the meadows at the foot of Mount Aiona, from where the path to lake Giacopiane starts: a fascinating route, crossed by flowering meadows alternating with high beech forests. Let yourself be carried away by the words of the local guides to get to know all the park’s most intrinsic curiosities.

From the position of pine cones on fir trees to the natural feeding of horses. With a little patience, one can catch a glimpse of a foal playing with its fellows, under the watchful eyes of the herd. Would you ever have thought to experience all this at a stone’s throw from the sea? After this incredible experience, a lunch break at malga Perlezzi is a must, where the managers are ready to welcome you with genuine cheeses, cold cuts, ravioli and the ever-present baciocca: a typical potato cake.

Moving slightly eastwards, we follow a route through the Apennines of the Val d’Aveto. To escape the summer heat, numerous paths descend from the mountains to the sea, regenerating mind and body. It is precisely in summer, when one is invaded by that immense desire to set off in search of new natural panoramas, in search of cool places, that it is the time to explore the Apennine mountains without missing out on good company and good food surrounded by a landscape that is as beautiful as it is sacred.

After exploring the highest part of the Ligurian Apennines, on the second day we set off to climb a peak made unique by its geological importance and peculiarities: Mount Aiona and the nearby Pietra Borghese.

One of the oldest geological evidence in Italy, Pietra Borghese is a rock that has existed for two billion years and originates from the crust of the ancient Ligurian Ocean. It is part of an outcrop of very hard, dark rocks that were more than 30 km deep. You should know that one of their characteristics is that they are magnetic! Numerous paths leading to Mount Aiona, 1,701 metres above sea level, are home to some of the stages of Liguria’s most famous slow-track route: these are the stages No. 33 and 34 of the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri that cross the Lame Pass and the Spingarda Pass to reach the Bocco Pass.

These sections pass through open and scenic environments alternating with vast beech forests of varying difficulty. Day three. A good pair of legs and… to the conquest of Mount Penna! The peak that bears the name of the Pen God, the Lord of the Summits! At 1,736 metres above sea level, this peak is one of the most popular with hikers in the area. Impossible to do without!

Along the way, a stop at the foot of the mountain, near the lake of the same name, is a must. It is a small body of water of glacial origin of fundamental importance for its inestimable naturalistic value. Surrounded by the beech forest, Mount Penna and Pennino can be admired from below, before embarking on their ascent. And finally… to the sea and beyond On the last day there is a change of scenery.

Run to Punta Manara and then to the sea at Sestri Levante, to end this tour of the Ligurian Apennines with a refreshing dip.

For more information about horse-watching themed excursions write to icavalliselvaggidellaveto@gmail.comor visit the website