On the Manie Plateau: Between Prehistory and Nature

Text and photos by the Archaeological Museum of Finale.

Sunday morning becomes a unique opportunity to discover a territory that holds archaeological, scenic and naturalistic surprises thanks to the Archeotrekking routes offered by the Archaeological Museum of Finale. The road offers remarkable panoramic views of the sea, leading to the plateau where the journey on foot begins. Following a short path through the scents and colors of the Mediterranean scrub, we come across the first cave: the Fairy Cave. With the assistance of our guide, we uncover the ancient history of Finalese. In fact, this cave has yielded artifacts dating back to the Paleolithic era.

Immediately after, a steep descent takes us to the fossil valley of the Ponci River, crossed by the Via Julia Augusta, a Roman consular road that, with its five bridges, constitutes the most important and monumental testimony of Roman road infrastructure in Liguria. A brief stop on the Bridge of the Fairies, just enough time to take a photo and then we reach the Bridge of Voze. From here, a gently ascending path begins, amidst oak, holm oak and chestnut trees  with glimpses of ancient dry stone walls, a testament to the laborious work of humans.

A few more bends, and a clearing opens up with a shelter beneath a rock, called Pian del Ciliegio, likely due to its shape and probably the presence of cherry trees in ancient times. The archaeological site has revealed small hearths used for pottery firing during the Neolithic period. But here’s the surprise! The importance of this place is attributed to a small terracotta cylinder, which was probably used for counting the ceramic vessels produced, a unique specimen found in northern Italy. One final effort amidst cultivated fields and the branches of tall trees and suddenly, we are dazzled by the blue sky above us.

Nearby, a group of farmhouses conceal the most spectacular natural cave in Finalese, known as the Arma delle Manie. Under the wide vault, olive presses and animal enclosures reveal its use by local farmers until not too long ago. However, to the right, a gate marks the archaeological site, where numerous excavation campaigns have established, based on the artifacts found, the ancient presence of Neanderthal humans. Beneath the cavern, it almost feels like being in another dimension, transported back to the time of prehistoric humans!

We retrace our steps and the scent of focaccia from the trattoria above the cave reminds us that it’s lunchtime and our journey is coming to an end. It has been an exciting experience, shared with new friends, which has brought us to a more profound appreciation of our wonderful territory, deserving of further exploration!

For information about Archeotrekking excursions, please contact:
www.museoarcheofinale.it  – info @ museoarcheofinale.it