The first part of the border trail between the Piedmont and Liguria that connects to the itinerary of the Via del Mare
Since ancient times the Val Curone occupies the place of the obligatory passage along one of the many salt roads and welcomes visitors in springtime with orderly pink expanses of peach blossoms characterising the low valley with its production of the peaches of Volpedo. Advancing along the valley the territory is marked by the linear geometrical forms of the vineyards, before all the Timorasso, autochthonous vine, which has been cultivated since time immemorial and which makes a full-bodied white wine with a complex aroma. In the high valley the hills become steeper and the cultivated fields make room for dense forests, where thanks to a particular microclimate the earth is ideal for the growth of porcini mushrooms and especially white and black truffles, the real treasure of this territory.
Forests, plains, hills, vineyards and orchards are the suggestive framework for an area full of historical and artistic highpoints; for a pleasant stroll in the streets of Volpedo, admiring the Piazza Quarto Stato and the study of Giuseppe Pellizza, a visit to the Romanesque churches of Viguzzolo, of Volpedo, of Fabbrica Curone, admiring the medieval castles and the remains of fortified settlements, which dominate the territory: Pozzol Groppo, Brignano Frascata, Montacuto, Dernice, Montemarzino, Fabbrica Curone, San Sebastiano Curone and Gremiasco. The trekking itinerary follows the traces of the old mule tracks, which passed along one of the salt roads that from the Riviera crossed over the Apennine to the Po Valley, accompanied by wayfarers, pilgrims and long caravans of mules, which transported salt, dried fish, oil and cereals all year round.
The trail begins near the Colonia Provinciale of Caldirola, around 40 kilometre from Tortona, where the provincial road SP 100 ends; from the large square in front of the colonia we turn into the dirt road, entering the forest, where we walk between high beeches which make the walk pleasant event in the heat of summer. A beechwood with a fable-like air accompanies the trekker during the first stretch, to leave room for more open clearings full of thousands of multicoloured blossoms of gentians, orchids and buttercups. Further on nature alternates open spaces with forest areas with beeches, laburnums, rowan trees, hawthorns, junipers and lantanas in a completely uncontaminated context.
A restoring rest is offered at the Fontana del Butto and immediately after that in a meadow at the Refuge Ezio Orsi, (1,397 m) managed by the CAI (Italian Alpine Club) of Tortona. Another break is possible at the Fontana Pessina after the refuge and before climbing up between high beeches and small clearings. It then suffices to go beyond the small pond and a last stretch of forest to come out into the open area of the Piani dell’Ebro with marvellous springtime and summer flowers of buttercups, five-fingers, singleflower knapweeds and gentians. The trail soon arrives at the ridge, turns left along the fencing and reaches the top of Monte Ebro (1,700 m), the highest summit of the province of Alessandria, an exceptional panoramic point from which, on clear days a splendid 360° view on the Curone and Borbera valleys below, the alpine arch and the Ligurian Sea can be enjoyed.