Via del Sale: the breathtaking road from the Alps to the sea

An ancient pathway from the Alps to the sea, through the Italian regions of Piemonte and Liguria, and France
  • Travelling time: 2 days by MTB (10 and a half hours cycling)

  • Difficulty: Hard

  • Why we love it: Because climbing and descending will surely challenge you, but then they will pay you back with stunning panoramas!

  • Length: 121 km

  • Total Elevation Gain: 2330 m

  • Way to travel: By MTB or on foot

  • Cost: 0 (+ notte in rifugio)

  • Our Advice: Only if you're fit and in good shape.

The Via del Sale is an ancient route, which twists and turns among Piemonte, France and Liguria, where tradesmen once used to carry salt from the coast to the hinterland.

But actually, Via del Sale is not merely a single road, but a huge number of different deviations under this single name. Today we'd like to introduce you to the one linking the small city of Limone Piemonte, which used to be a strategic knot for salt commerce (now it is a well-known ski resort), to Ventimiglia, the mesmerizing city right in front of the Ligurian coast. We've already suggested you how to travel from Cuneo to Ventimiglia by train...but this time we only think about trekking and MTB!

A two-days adventure, among breathtaking views on the Alps and the sea... let's discover them together! 

Limone Piemonte, Via del Sale
Photo by Giacomo Bellone - Limone Piemonte

  

Day 1: from Limone Piemonte to Colla Melosa

Our starting point is Limone Piemonte's city centre (1009m), next stop Colle di Tenda, first on a paved road and then on an unpaved one. Here you'll find a majestic military fortress, something you should really pay a visit to. The complex was built back in the 19th century on the border between France and Italy, to protect Piedmont from any attack. 

Da Colle di Tenda a Colle di Boaria, Via del Sale
Da Colle di Tenda a Colle di Boaria, laviadelsale.com

Leaving the fortress behind, we keep walking (or riding) towards Colle della Perla and Colle della Boaria, among a bushy rhododendrons' vegetation, typical shepherds' houses (named "gias"), as well as the beautiful lake Lago della Perla (2036m). The road gets here uneven, climbing is also very hard, as we've past 2000m! 

La Via del Sale in MTB
Via del Sale - photo by Giacomo Bellone

 

From Colle della Boaria we step into France, towards the Marguareis Mountains: here the landscape changes and becomes more rugged, among the Conca delle Carsene's steep rocks. We follow the military road with a 2274m height, until we reach Chevolail Castel, from where we go back descending in Italy, to Colle dei Signori and Passo delle Navette. 

At the crossroad of Monesi-Tenda's military track, we turn right to reach Passo del Tanarello and Passo del Collardente, with many ups and downs legs. Here our final climb of today awaits us: final destination Col Bertrand (1960m) and Rifugio Allavena.

 

Tramonto dal Rifugio Allavena, via del sale
Sunset from Rifugio Allavena, photo by Gaspar Torriero via flickr

 

Day 2: from Colla Melosa to Ventimiglia

We leave rested and refreshed from the mountain hut, ready for a new exciting day on track! Where to? The sea, of course!

We follow the military road, with a 1900m height until we reach the military barracks (Caserme del Reggimento degli Alpini). We keep going up towards Rifugio Grai and the magnificent view on Monte Pietravecchia, and then back down to Monte Toraggio. Challenging walk for those who are trekking, as there is a fixed rope route. But the spectacular view on the Ligurian and Maritime Alps will surely make it worthy!

 

Via del Sale
Via del Sale, viadelsale.com

 

 

We head down towards Colle del Corvo, where the path would keep going towards France on a very hard and unpaved route. We suggest you stay on the Italian side going to Sella di Gouta and Margherita dei Boschi (on a paved road). 

From here, there are 20km on a descending paved road and 25km more on an unpaved one to get to your long-awaited destination: Ventimiglia and its blue waters of the Ligurian sea!

 

Ventimiglia
Ventimiglia

A long and challenging route for those who really love adventures! But the Via del Sale will pay all of your efforts back...after every climb and turn you'll find a stunning and unforgettable view on the Alps waiting for you! And then...you only have to dive in the crystaline waters of Ventimiglia. 

Info: you can find more information about the route on the Alta Via del Sale website https://altaviadelsale.com/

Eco-friendly accommodations

L'Artisin

Limone Piemonte (Piemonte)

Starting from 90,00 €
Arrucador, alle porte dei parchi

Limone Piemonte (Piemonte)

Starting from 110,00 €
Bragard Hotel

Limone Piemonte (Piemonte)

Starting from 220,00 €
Agriturismo Doremi B&B Farm Cuneo

Cervasca (Cuneo)

Starting from 80,00 €
Hotel du Grand Capelet

Belvédère (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)

Starting from 80,00 €
B&B Alla Borgata

Boves (Piemonte)

Starting from 75,00 €
L'Arbergh Locanda del Parco

Vernante (Piemonte)

Starting from 25,00 €
La Maison dans Arbre

SAINT DLAMAS DE TENDE (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)

Starting from 75,00 €
Rifugio Pian Delle Gorre

Chiusa di Pesio (Piemonte)

Starting from 18,00 €
THE MORTOLA TOWER LUXURY ECO RESORT

Ventimiglia (Liguria)

Starting from 200,00 €
Borgata Sagna Rotonda

Marmora (Piemonte)

Starting from 67,00 €
Locanda Lou Pitavin

Marmora (Piemonte)

Starting from 55,00 €
Romantica Camera provenzale in B&B

Saluzzo (Piedmont)

Starting from 69,00 €
Casa Nonna tra gli ulivi

Casanova Lerrone (Liguria)

Starting from 28,00 €
Agrilunassa Eco Guesthouse

Bordighera (Liguria)

Starting from 70,00 €