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Old War Roads in Liguria

Ratings(1-5, 1=easy, 5=extreme):

Difficulty: 3-4 (due to the lenght)
Danger: 2-4
Views: 4-5
Interest 4
Is it worth doing? Yes, definitely.
Time for the trip: Minimum is a full day(12 hours) if you want to travel all the road. Much better count 2 days and camp somewhere.
Suitable for: Any Landrover, any driver except the optional sections mentioned later
Those sections are only for experienced drivers,a 4low position on the transfer box is mandatory= I suggest not to take Freelanders on that special stretch. Rest is fine however and those sections can be easily avoided..

Left: Track profile of the first stretch. Height im metres above sea level, distance in kilometres from start near Camporosso to the waypoint #100.

This road is what's left of the giant net of old military roads built before WW2. Those were part of a program to reduce the unemployment by Mussolini. A maze of military roads were built to connect fortresses and outlooks at the borders. Similar networks exist also in the north. Most of them are quite worn today as there's hardly any maintenance at all. It's only to the foundations which were built to accept the weight of heavy trucks who withstand the erosion under the sometimes very hard conditions up the mountains.

Start is on the main road S548 which starts on the coast near Ventimiglia.Go off the motorway from France at the exit Ventimiglia, th first one after the border. Follow the signs to the city. You cross the river Roya and turn right towards the centre. There seems to be a permanent trafic jam there. Down the road lies a railway crossing which is closed 23 hours a day (at least to us it seemed so). Take the main road through Ventimiglia. It's disgusting if you are not used to italian driving style. Everybody seems to cut in front of you, trafic laws seem to be non existant. But surprisingly all goes well when you just go on. There don't seem to be more accidents than anywhere else even with the Kamikaze-style italian motorcycle drivers tackle the road. Look at the large picture below and see the motorcycle in the mirror. I was driving at quite a speed then and had switched on my blinkers way ahead as well as turned left. Even then that fool tried to overtake. Pretty typical of italian driving style. The more south you go the worse it gets.

So you drive up the road towards Dolceaqua and Pigna. You cross the motorway which is on a bridge high above you and about 1 km later you come to this turnoff pictured right. The roadsigns point to San Giacomo, Ciaixe and Brunetti (left). So turn left towards that direction.

Immediately the road narrows and goes strongly uphill. Soon it's impossible to cross another car. Use your horn liberally as locals come down at quite a speed.




Waypoint 75: Go straight on. Left is a turnoff to San Giacomo.

Waypoint 76: Also straight on (picture right). The road to the left is signposted to Ciaixe, Magauda and Ventimiglia (??) and was not on my new map. If this is a through street it would mean you don't have to drive through Ventimiglia, a shortcut of maybe a full hour. Anyway, you drive straight on.


Waypoint 77: Straight on. Road comes from the back left.

Waypoint 78: Keep right. Another road turns off to the left.

Waypoint 79: T to the right. You are now on a larger road which goes from the bridge after Dolceaqua to Rocchetta.


Waypoint 80: You reach the main road from Ventimiglia to Pigna.

Turn left. You can see a very small stretch of tarmac going off left and uphill just before the main intersection. Theoretically this one would go uphill and reach the road you want later to use, being a shortcut of many kilometres. I tried it and couldn't find the way out. The small road goes up at an hairrising steepness and seems to end in the backyards of some houses where I turned around. So you better go left at the main intersection towards Pigna.

Click here for part 2 of this roadbook