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Cycling and hiking in Ligure

18th March 2010 Print
Cycling and hiking in Ligure

Those looking for an active break with added flavour should look towards the rolling hills of Finale Ligure, Liguria.

The 24 hour mountain bike festival of ‘24h Finale’ takes place on 22nd May and brings together riders, enthusiasts and supporters from around the World resulting in one of Italy’s and indeed Europe’s most unique racing events.

Italians have always had a soft spot for cycling which made the adoption of mountain biking an easy addition to the family. Liguria is blessed with the perfect mixture of terrain, climate and breathtaking scenery which is why the 24 hour race is based here. Teams of two, four and eight compete on this gruelling 8.2km closed circuit; with the total number of teams capped at 200 (around 1500 riders) meaning early registration is vital.

The endurance element means teams must strategically plan when each rider contends and adapt riding styles throughout the race to ensure the best possible results. The circuit itself epitomises the Italian’s attitude towards the sport, so it is uncompromisingly fun! Endurance races traditionally favour speed over the use of obstacles, however the Finale trail is 90% single track which sears through the wild vegetation and reveals several steep technical climbs as well as stunning panoramic coastal views. Two fire road sections are equally as important as this gives stronger riders opportunity to pass the weaker ones. A high banked corner towards the finish line adds to the intensity and is a renowned crowd pleaser, for those spectating this is a nail biting view point.

For some, racing throughout the night is the most exciting part; reactions and concentration have to be razor sharp as the loosely covered trails become that much more dangerous in the dark, needless to say headlights and hi-visibility accessories are necessary. It’s not only the professionals that compete however; the responsibility lies with the rider to ensure they are competent enough not to be a danger to themselves or others. Riders should remember this event is just as much about the fun of mountain biking as the thrill of the competition.

24h Finale is more than just a race; music, food, raffles and stunts take place throughout the event and continue after the award ceremony. Amongst an international crowd, the Italian culture shines through with a wide selection of cheese, fresh pastries, polenta, gnocchi and spaghetti on offer. One particular gastronomic highlight of the festival is the mass pasta feast at midnight which creates a fantastically friendly atmosphere whilst providing essential nutrition for the contestants. Non-racers can walk, hike or cycle around the area to enjoy the views and landscape as well as finding new vantage points to watch the race. In the festival area the live band tent features a mix of 70’s disco, 80’s and 90’s rock. The festival attracts multitudes of cycling enthusiasts of various disciplines and after the race finishes several trials riders perform incredible stunts which are always met with an uproar of approval from the crowds.

Approximately five miles from the race course is the town of Finale Ligure. Found on inclining hills rolling up from the seafront the town hides many a cultural gem. Finale Ligure is divided into three distinct ‘boroughs’ and is a dream to explore. Finale Ligure Marina is the main seaside part of the town, most popular with tourists looking for a relaxing beach break. Finale Pia is the traditional centre of the town where visitors can still find a standing Benedictine abbey. Finalborgo is the third borough and is located a few kilometres inland; founded in 1100 it is worth the extra effort to reach it hides an old walled medieval town waiting to be discovered.

Finale Ligure’s location along the Riviera makes it an ideal starting point for walking or trekking. Visitors can explore along the coastline or venture inland for perhaps a more challenging route. One such inland route starts from Finale Marina and spans ten and a half miles ending in the small village of Melango. The route which is accessible to all follows the meandering SS490 road offering spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding valleys whilst giving you the chance to investigate the small traditional villages of Gorra, Olle, Portio, Ca’ Nova and Melango.

A slightly more casual walking route starts in the medieval town of Finalborgo and works its way up to an elevation of over 300 metres. Once reaching the summit there are stunning views of the Riviera coastline in all its glory. Many make an evening of it by preparing a picnic and starting this three mile walk mid-afternoon, before watching the sunset over a well deserved glass of wine. Routes for these trails and more can be found at

Inland near the town of Magliolo is the spa and bio resort of Il Casale situated in the hinterland surrounded by olive groves, vineyards and orchards. This environmentally friendly resort is renowned for its organic food, much of which comes from the garden, and its local wine. The location is unparalleled; there are stunning views over the mountains to admire and a quality spa featuring saunas, a Turkish bath and a wide range of facial and massages treatments making it the perfect relaxing bolthole. Doubles start from €140 per night including breakfast, please visit

For those that prefer to be immersed in the charm of Finale Ligure town consider Hotel Medusa. Found directly on the promenade and a short distance from the sea this recently renovated hotel is a perfect base to explore Finale Ligure either by foot or by bike. Owner, Marco is a keen cyclist and offers bike rentals, repairs, maps and tours of the region. Double rooms start from €60 per night including breakfast, visit for more information and downloadable trail maps.

British Airways flies regularly from London Gatwick to Genova, advance prices starting from £94 return in May, Alternatively RyanAir flies from London Stansted to Genova on a daily basis, prices starting from £75 return in May, Driving from Genova to Finale Ligure takes approximately an hour, alternatively there is a train costing €10 single and taking one hour, visit

For further information on “In Liguria” visit:

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Cycling and hiking in Ligure