This guide is a contribution from G.R. Horn, one of our guests, who has contributed, to make also your stay a pleasant experience.
(San Martino di Paravanico) Pian di Praglia – Pegli
This walk is another relatively strenuous exercise, and you should wait until you have a reasonably clear day as, once again, parts of the walk are rather more difficult to carry through if fog shrouds vision and trail markings. Just as described in Walk No. 1, you should take the train to Pondecimo, make your way to the ALI busstop and then take the bus to San Martino di Paravanico. You will probably have to change busses in Campomorone (see Walk No. 2). Stay in the bus until the very end of the line, which is on the far (upper!) end of San Martino. From here you have the same kinds of choices in order to make your way up to Pian di Praglia as I described as options going in the other direction, heading down from Pian di Praglia, in Walk No. 3. You can walk up the quiet road all the way to the pass, or you can try to hitch a ride with a local driver going uphill. The author of these lines was, once again, lucky and obtained a free ride up to the pass after twenty minutes of walking. The walk up the road itself is not overly strenuous, just somewhat longish, considering that another four hours of somewhat difficult terrain is still ahead of you.
The trail heads off from the road just about precisely at the highest spot on the way to Praglia, which is about twenty minutes walking time uphill from the point where the trail hit the road as described in Walk No. 4. The views of the Val Verde and the Valpolcevera are, once again, superb, and the Santuario della Guardia is a constant landmark to your left as well. A gravel road leads without too many altitudes changes due south, and soon you will find yourself in a type of moonscape. At one point you should watch out for a sharp 90 degree right turn onto another gravel road. It will slowly wind itself to just a few meters below the 1000m mark. These hilltops are literally the southernmost outcroppings above the seaside immediately to the west of Genova, and eventually the views of the coastal villages to the west and Genova to the east will be increasingly distracting.
After about an hour’s walk from the road leading to Praglia, you will have to pay attention to a fork in the road which was well-nigh invisible when this author walked the trail in early April 2005. Up to now all walks described followed the red-and-white AV signposts that are generally ever present. At this particular bifurcation, you will leave behind the Alta Via trail, which veers off to the right, i.e. to the west. And from now on until Pegli, you will follow another set of colorful signs, likewise painted in red-and-white, just like the AV, except that these signs will read E1. You already will have seen such postings along the final stretch of Walk No. 1 and for all of Walk No. 4. E 1 refers to the European Long-Distance Path No. 1, which now starts in northern Denmark and leads all the way across Germany, Switzerland and the Po Valley to the Mediterranean at Pegli. It is this final two-to-three hour stretch of the E 1 that we will follow from the difficult-to-spot bifurcation onwards.
The problem with this particular fork is that the AV markings were completely absent precisely at this important intersection. But as we will be now following the E 1 signposts anyhow, it matters relatively little, though one should be aware of the bifurcation to avoid needless backtracking, should one accidentally wander along the wrong trail from this point onwards until one notices the mistake. At any rate, very soon the trail begins its rather steep and long descent from almost 1000m altitude to sea level on the beach at Pegli down below. The good news is that there are no more climbs ahead of you. The bad news is that the trail to Pegli is mostly a very rocky and narrow track which requires near-constant attention to the steps you want to take. Nonetheless, this stretch must count for one of the most stunning trails in the area, for you literally have the Mediterranean at your fingertips. Given a clear day, you can see all the way to the Alpi Apuani to the east and an equal distance towards the west. Guidebooks undoubtedly will tell tales of visions of Corsica!
You need to be careful also to avoid getting sidetracked along one of the many criss-crossing trails you will encounter on your long, steep and rewarding descent. The marking is almost everywhere rather sufficient. Combined with a map, which is naturally a must for all these walks, you will easily wind your way down into the outskirts of Pegli, then passing an array of minor and major villas. The trail officially ends at the bottom of a set of steps two hundred yards from the seaside. Pegli is well-served by trains going to Porta Principe.