ROUTE 4: A ride around Varazze, Liguria
Forget lounging around on the beach: the roads are the best bit of the Ligurian Riviera
On one side there are a million shades of blue - from the sky to the sparkling sea to the hazy distant shore glimpsed across the bay, jagged hill-shapes hinting at hairpins and panoramic views. On the other, there’s the muted-of white and grey of the rocks riding high above the road. Ahead, the view is tarmac black, edged with white lines and rich with promise - for this is not straight ahead. Oh no. This is left curve followed by gently climbing right, terminating in blind left, as the road disappears around the cliff-face.
The SS1 - the Via Aurelia - is one of those unsung roads for motorcyclists that everyone should know about, but nobody does. That’s close to a crime. “Why on earth haven’t I been here before” marvels Weeble (the photographer), who’s spent years travelling around Europe for work. “This road is amazing.” It is. The original Via Aurelia was built by the Romans in the third century BC, but has been comprehensively updated for the automotive age, with this most northerly stretch stringing the seaside towns of the Ligurian Riviera together like pearls on a windswept necklace.
Even better, it’s no longer a main highway, as the motorway takes the passing traffic - though the SS1 can still get busy with tourists in the August holiday season. Better to come when it’s quieter, like this. Still, let’s not pretend it’s mile after unspoilt mile of empty asphalt. There are short, inspiring sections that separate picture-postcard towns lined with beach-front cafes, sunbathers stretched out on the sand.
For the quieter roads, you need to head inland: take a breather in the green, fresh hills that rise behind the coast. Well “breather” is perhaps not quite the right word, either. These are demanding roads - serpentine and sometimes less than perfectly surfaced, but always involving. And the views are spectacular. Pause at the top of any viewpoint where the trees part and look back to the sea, then turn the key, thumb the starter and carry on. Perfect.
Maps and downloads for a ride around Varazze
Please note: This page contains the route files for The RiDE Guide To Italy which came free with RiDE magazine in July 2015. These website page are not regularly updated, so please check all critical information before you travel. All route files are in .gpx format. Garmin and BMW users can download the main file, which contains all the routes and our recommended hotels as separate waypoints. TomTom users can download the individual routes and use the Tyre software to convert them. For many routes we also have Google Map links. However, as Google Maps will not plot routes over seasonally closed high Alpine passes (such as Stelvio) when they’re shut, these may not work for every route all year round.