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Tour of Ciappi

Sea level: 554 m
Categories: MTB, Generali

The ride starts by the Finale Ligure police headquarters, the Carabinieri in via Brunenghi. It begins with a climb on the metalled road which takes you up to San Bernardino, from which you turn left at the sign which says “il Cucco”. Climbing up the via Marco Polo, you can make out a second fork where you will find on the left Via degli Alisei which ends at a barrier (km4.15).

Leaving the road you enter a leafy track, marked with a red triangle and two red bars. The first , slippery section, with a number of ups and downs, crosses a path marked with a solid red square, which takes you to the right at a gradual climb. You then ride over a series of rocky outcrops, with the interesting scenery of the Pianarella on your left; there's a steep ramp and the course goes downhill.

To your left you will be able to make out a narrower path, marked with a red square. You pass a few small rocky overhangs, and then there's a flat section between the trees and a path on your right which leads to the meadows of Vacché.

Keep following the red square markings until, after a very technical and gradual climb, you get to the first of the limestone rock slabs which give their name to this ride, the Ciappo dei Ceci, a Ligurian name for a large, flat outcrop of rock. This section is technical and great fun.

At the edge of the bottom of a small valley the path goes slightly up to cross a rocky section, and you need to do this part on foot. This brings you to the biggest and most distinctive of the Ciappi, the one called Conche. Pass it, continuing to follow the same track markings and you will begin a really enjoyable descent, followed by an unusual stony rising ramp. It's a very difficult section but it is possible to do it all on the bike. At the top, ignoring a left turn, you will enter the most difficult part of the descent. This is also possible to do in the saddle, but you are advised to get off at certain points.
You then rejoin, more or less in one piece, a dirt track at the edge of a woodshed, turn to the left and after a short distance you come out onto an ordinary road which climbs up to Orco.

From the square outside the church in Orco you take the small uphill road to your left. The road goes along by the cemetery, but you should ignore a further turn to the left. The road goes along the ridge for a little while and then down via a fast section into the Nava valley. At the bottom the dirt track is interrupted to allow for a very technical section which passes under the cliffs of Boragni and leads onto a final section of dirt track which crosses the main road to Orco from the Val Ponci. Continue on the right to the bridge at the bottom of the valley and from there go left in the direction of Vezzi Portio.
A few hundred metres later, go to the right at the next fork and start climbing, always following the directions for Vezzi Portio until you come to the signpost for Borgata Rocca. On the right take the steep climb to the Borgata, where the asphalt road ends. Follow the dirt track, which is marked with two red lines and a solid red triangle, until you reach the 'saddle' on the left hand side of the slopes of the Rocca degli Uccelli.
At the junction where there is a small shrine, turn to your left and take the dirt track marked with a solid red rhombus. The track gets gradually narrower, and at the next turning, go towards the right, where there is a path which is marked out by a rope handrail which you should follow. This is the path for people who cannot see. There's a short climb, and then an interesting descent which brings you to Colla di Magnone, which joins the route which comes up from the Roman Bridges (Ponti Romani).

Head down a slippery descent, marked with a red circle, which passes the Ca' du Puncin and comes out on the Roman Bridges trail. At the edge of the Rocca di Corno, the lane becomes a fast dirt track which joins the main road that climbs from Calvisio to Verzi, and here there is a rocky monolith which was worshipped in antiquity as the mountain god Penn. You descend on the road to Calvisio and from there into Finalpia.
This is undoubtedly the best known of the rides around the Finale area. Every year hundreds of bikers ride over the rocky outcrops which make up this course. On the high plateau of San Bernardino, among the Mediterranean vegetation, there is a highly technical ride which includes some short sections which only the best of our local riders and guest stars have been able to complete and remain in the saddle. The remainder is an enjoyable single track which can be mastered with careful riding.
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