Monte Croce and Monte Piccaro, from Borghetto Santo Spirito
Price: 12 €/per person
Classification: route of naturalistic interest
To try your hand at this route, it is necessary to start from Castello Borelli, the 19th-century building that overlooks the seaside town of Borghetto Santo Spirito from above. Unfortunately, the castle cannot be visited, as it was turned it into a residence with sea views.
A network of trails starts from there and goes all the way to Monte Croce and further up to the Santuario di Balestrino.
The trail starts off challenging from the get go and continues uphill for about 50 minutes. We will enjoy our first wide view once we reach the small clearing with a wooden bench: practically a panoramic terrace from where we can admire the sea and its wonderful shades in the distance. Having passed the bench, we will have to decide whether to continue straight on the southern path and head for Monte Piccaro which will take about 15 minutes, or turn right and take the 25-minute northern path. Basically, not much changes because it is a loop that will rejoin once at the summit: both trails lead to the same point. The only difference is that the second one has a gentle climb that runs around the mountain, which is why it will take longer. If we decide to continue straight on the slightly steeper path, we will be rewarded with a memorable view: the beautiful colors of the sea merging with those of the sky, the shades of the Mediterranean scrub ranging from green to orange – characteristic of the place – with its strangely umbrella-shaped trees for a unique view.
And here we are, in no time, on the summit of this modestly elevated mountain (at an altitude of 252 m). Here we will also come across a small chapel-shrine that we now know well, the shrine of the Madonna della Guardia, visible even from the beach that stretches below the rocky headlands. The summit of the mountain is located where the repeaters are, while continuing beyond we will reach Monte Croce in about an hour.
Continuing beyond Mt. Piccaro one will come across a large handmade cross. The climb that starts from this unusual construction (of unknown origins) and goes all the way up to Monte Croce is very challenging. To walk it you need to be trained and have suitable shoes because of the largely slippery and uneven ground. Once you reach the top of Monte Croce, the view will reward you for all the effort made, down to the last drop of sweat. Among the highest ridges belonging to the Maritime Alps, this is undoubtedly the closest to the sea: we will be so close that we will even be able to make out boats sailing near the coast!