Follow the scents of the Mediterranean macchia along the Val Nimbalto

Among the peaks of the Riviera delle Palme stand Monte Croce and Monte Carmo di Loano. The first, less elevated, is striking for its conical shape, reminiscent, despite its entirely different nature, of a small volcano. The second, in a more secluded position from the coast, reaches almost 1400 metres in altitude and boasts a 360-degree panorama, from the Ligurian Sea to the Alps. Its surroundings are characterised by a rocky landscape that makes it easily recognisable from afar.

To approach the mountain, you can ascend its slopes along Val Nimbalto, which offers pleasant walks immersed in the Mediterranean scrub. The southern slope of Monte Carmo is covered by extensive vegetation dominated by shrubs rich in colourful flowers. What stands out most along the path is the fragrance that the Mediterranean plants release into the surrounding air; it is particularly intense in spring when the evergreen plants on this sunny slope disperse their aromas. Bright green leaves, violet, and white predominate; the latter are the colours of the flowers of the Montpellier and hairy rockrose, which are particularly widespread here. From these panoramic expanses, the result of centuries of grazing, the urban centres along the coast seem very distant.

The presence of a real refuge at Pian delle Bosse is also a peculiarity; it can only be reached on foot, a situation common in the Alps and along the Apennine chain but unusual in Liguria. Once you reach the summit of Monte Carmo, you find yourself far from the cities, as if you were in the Alpine mountains that you can now admire to the north, enveloped in the scent… of the Mediterranean scrub!

Owned by the CAI (Italian Alpine Club) of Loano, the welcoming Rifugio Pian delle Bosse has about forty beds and is open and managed for most of the year (tel. 019.671790). In case the refuge is temporarily closed, there is always a room with six bunk beds, mattresses, and blankets available.

Starting from Bocchetta di Altare, Monte Carmo di Loano (1389 metres above sea level) is the first significant peak in the Alps: its massive and rounded shape dominates the coastal towns of Pietra Ligure, Loano, and Borghetto Santo Spirito.

Like many other mountains in Liguria, Monte Carmo di Loano has steep and barren maritime slopes, while on the opposite side, it descends with gentle slopes covered with beech trees towards the wide basin of Bardineto. The summit of Carmo offers a stunning view of the coast and the Ligurian mountains; on the clearest days, you can even see Corsica and Monviso.