The Montemarcello Park

Flora, fauna, horse riding, rafting, cycling, but also archeology and culture are all to be enjoyed in Montemarcello Park, with our 10 carefully selected experiences.

The regionally protected area of Montemarcello Park is crossed by the river Magra in his Ligurian stretch and by the river Vara, its main tributary. So many landscapes, animals and flowers are to be discovered in different ways, sometimes unknown even to locals: read our 10 Things to do in Montemarcello Park.

The botanical gardens in the Monte Marcello Park

1. Discover the plant life of the area in the Botanical Gardens

At the top of Mount Murlo, with one of the most beautiful views of the area, the Botanical Garden of Montemarcello is interesting because it shows on two mountain slopes, one facing the sea and other on the floodplain, typical botanical species found in the area.

The Pine forests of Aleppo along the sea front, surrounded by the Macchia Mediterranea and the Gariga, mostly made of shrubs and herbs. Quercete prevails in cooler areas, and in the wetland many  plants of local traditions can be found.

It can only be reached on foot, with a walk of about twenty minutes along a path that starts in the resort La Gruzza, on the road that leads to Monte Marcello from Lerici. Reservations are necessary through these numbers: 0187 626172 or 3271273871.
Entrance– 5,00 €, kids up to 5 years old free.

Riding in Montemarcello Park

2. Riding in its valleys and “bozi”

The river area of Monte Marcello Park is especially suited to horseback riding . There are several tourist facilities in the area, and farms that allow you to hire a horse for excursions of varying difficulty through different landscapes.

One of the favourite riders’ points are the equipped trails that loop around the area of Saudino Bozi : These artificial lakes (the bozi) having arisen when the reservoirs formed by the excavations in the old quarries of gravel and clay of Saudino Fornaces were filled with ground water, creating an environment of high ecological value.

Rafting in Vara River

3. Rafting down its rivers

In the upper Monte Marcello Park, impacted by the passage of the river Vara , do not miss the opportunity to go down the rapids of the river on a canoe .

You can practice canyoning safely, with one of the many sports associations that provide the equipment and the minimum necessary training to take you to the view points in a canoe: in different sections of the river, from Varese to the confluence of the Magra River; the most interesting ones are marked by signs of embarkation and disembarkation.

Punta Bianca

4. Swim from its pristine beaches: the black Punta Corvo and white Punta Bianca

The Monte Marcello Park hosts some of the most beautiful beaches of the area.

The best known is probably the Punta Corvo beach, that features wild and stark beauty: from the path at the side of the Park information walk down the forest trail to the bay , which opens up to the magnificent view of the islands of the Gulf of Poets .

The beach is characterized by dark gravel from which it takes its name, and that in the summer contributes to high temperatures on the shore.

Birdwatching in Montemarcello Park

5 – Birdwatching

The lower part of the Monte Marcello Park is the favorite environment for certain species of aquatic birds, who choose this area for their migratory passage. It is also a LipuOasis (area managed by the national association for the protection of birds). In the Park you can easily get acquainted with the river nightingale despite its shyness that makes it hide in the reeds.

Near the river you can find the egret and the gray heron. The kingfisher is often fishing and hunting insects among the foliage of the willows, in the stretches where the waters of the Magra and Vara rivers run slower. The mouth of the Magra is typical for observing herring gulls, shags and sandwich terns. Among the most important species found in the park’s habitats are the bee-eater and the egrets. The Caprione promontory is home to Ravens and kestrels and in the maquis, you can see warblers, blackcaps and goldfinches. Nocturnal birds of prey such as tawny Owl, Scops owl and barn owl are very frequent. Among the birds of prey you can also see buzzards and hawks.
The cycle path of the Via Francigena

6. Explore it by bike

The Monte Marcello Park is rich in bike paths and very attractive routes for those who love cycling in nature. Whether you have a mountain bike or a racing bike, it is always advisable to make sure your gear is in good condition, because the roads are often rather steep. Your efforts will however be rewarded with unique views.

You can cycle along a “ring” that runs for 22 km around Mount Caprione through the towns of Ameglia, Montemarcello, La Serra, Guercio, then to return to Ameglia, riding in some of the most interesting points of the Park. The route crosses points of higher difficulty, but you can choose to cycle only on the easier trails.

The abandoned village of Portesone

7. Find its ghost villages

There are many villages scattered in the Monte Marcello Park : countryside, villages, towns where it is simply a pleasure to stroll around while tasting local specialties, indulging in a friendly yet stylish atmosphere.

But there are also lost villages, those abandoned by history for practical, or more tragic reasons. Two well-known examples are the “ghost” villages of Barbazzano and Portesone, located between Tellaro and Ameglia, once important centers for the local economy , as evidenced by the ancient terraces planted in the area surrounding them. The villages were known for the achievements of their sailors, who had the honor of accompanying the bishop of Luni in his sea voyages. Barbazzano was probably the original center of Tellaro, but the inhabitants had to abandon it due to an outbreak of plague in the sixteenth century.
The village of Portesano is even older (1000 year up to 1300), and its structure gives one of the most suggestive evidence of life dedicated to sheep farming in the area.

The "Alta Via dei Monti Liguri" path

8. Starting the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri Path

In the Monte Marcello Park, a walk on the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri path can start or end in the town of Ceparana.

It depends on your point of view, but certainly for those who are in the area it is easier to think about starting the path that crosses the whole Ligurian arch on its higher coast, offering the view that embraces the sea and the mountains that only our region can offer. The spectacular journey of 440 km has its initial section right in the Monte Marcello Park up to the Pass of Cento Croci. The Mountain of Cornoviglio is perhaps one of the most interesting spots for the unique perspective that it offers, with a spectacular view of the Gulf of Poets .

An example of Cavaneo

10. Visit its “capital”

The “cavanei” are stone buildings with undated vaulted tholos (circular temples). They are located in the territory of Monte Marcello, testifying the presence of developed communities on Mount Caprione since the dawn of time. The name has a Celtic -Gaelic root Cab-Han , which means “round place,” and this would refer to the pre-roman construction, probably a housing complex. For some they were sky watchers, it seems that the filtered sunlight from the gaps can announce the arrival of the solstice: the elders of the area say “if you want to become an astronomer like Ptolemy you must observe the moon from within a cavaneo”. You can go in search of cavanei in Campazzo, Barbazzano, Monte Gruzza, Redarca, Rocchetta, Portesone-Ronchetto, and Carbognano. In Monti San Lorenzo, the presence of a very old stone building site, which on the summer solstice day filters the sunlight in the shape of a butterfly has been confirmed.

Montemarcello, its houses with one of the most beautiful views of the Gulf of Poets

10. Visit its “capital”

The village of Monte Marcello, which gives its name to the park, is a point of arrival and observation of its beauty. A small but fortified Ligurian beauty, located on the last strip of land, just where the geography changes to make room for larger, more sandy Tuscan coasts.

Monte Marcello dominates the Gulf of Poets from Mount Caprione, offering perhaps one of its most spectacular views. Colourful houses, a network of narrow and articulate streets, preserved with care make Monte Marcello a truly magical place to spend some time away from the chaos, surrounded by the beauty of the park and the turquoise sea. The origin of the village was revealed through the remains of the Roman road on Caprione and the thermal baths in the Roman Villa of Bocca di Magra.

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