A thousand metres of soft descent: on the high road of the Ligurian mountains and on the Via Francigena toward Sarzana
We travel to Casoni di Suvero by public transport, where we begin our trek. Having left behind the vast pine forest that characterizes the surroundings of these few houses we enter the cartway with the red and white AV sign on the right, which takes us to the slightly higher level of the 1042 metres of the Sella di San Genesio. From here on the road to Sarzana is practically always in descent.
Crossing large pastures framed by genista bushes alternating with areas of more wood like vegetation, you will be able to observe more than one beautiful view of the village of Calice al Cornoviglio, towered by its impressive castle; moreover, by slightly going off the main path you will be able to admire the natural balcony of the Monte Cornoviglio, which faces the Val di Vara, la Lunigiana, the Golf of la Spezia and the Apuan Alps. Continuing along the old muletrack we reach Monte Alpicella, nearly entirely covered by pine trees, which were planted at the beginning of the last century in order to block the hydrological instability caused by previous deforestations.
Along the descent towards the Valico dei Solini, the road for a short stretch turns into a narrow path, and there are oaks and chestnut trees to keep us company during the long walk. On the right towards the valley Bolano appears, the municipality which presents itself like a huge terrace between the Magra and Vara valleys, declining on the conjunction of the two rivers to which their hillsides, incised by numerous creeks, send their waters. After meeting olive groves and vineyards scattered here and there we reach Tirolo, and leave the Alta via to continue on an asphalt road in the direction of S. Stefano Magra: right after the bridge over the river we turn towards the river banks and enter the scenic river road (Percorso fluvial). Here we will meet uncontaminated bights, populated by various water birds.
We advance towards the centre of the village, where the path starts, which will take us to Ponzano Superiore in little more than an hour. The small village has ancient origins, which seem to be confirmed by its name; some believe it derives from the Roman Consul Caius Pontius Ligo. We leave Ponzano and the previous trail marker: from the main square on travels the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim’s path, which once led to Rome; this is the road that we will follow from now on. We continue to go down towards Sarzana and half way meet the remains of the Castello della Brina. The fortification held important powers of control and protection of the pilgrims’ road as well as the toll collection, reason why this area experienced a harsh war. Peace was signed after long-lasting negotiations which were concluded by a memorable act with Dante Alighieri in the capacity of attorney of the marquis of Malaspina as chief protagonist. Continuing a short way towards the valley we reach the outskirts of Sarzana, a town, with rich treasures and plenty of evidence of its complex history.