The ridge from mount Caucaso to the Vara valley
Let’s resume our trip starting from the Scoffera pass. It lays on the main ridge, so close to the sea that the Ligurian rivers must flow parallel to the coast, to reach a singificant length. But this implies that some other mountain ridge keeps them a bit away from the sea, for a while. And that is what happens in this area, where the Lavagna stream flows east, until the city of Chiavari, forming the Fontanabuona valley; there, it joins with Sturla, that regolarly flow straigth off the mount Aiona ridge, and Graveglia, coming from the other side, with its springs on mount Zatta; all together, theay become river Entella, getting to the sea as the border between Chiavari and Lavagna cities, also forming one of the few coastal plains of the Liguria region; once occupied by vegatble gardens, nowadays it is almost only one city.
Now we follow the main ridge, winding east. At first in goes a bit north, the down to touch mount Caucaso; then it forms another arch, going south again to mount Ramaceto; then it goes north again until mount Aiona, since river Sturla decided to go north to south in the area; then the ridge goes down again to reach mount Zatta. From there it goes north-east, but we enter now the vara valley, that will be the next chapter. But let’s include here a part of the ridge on the south-west border of Varra valley, instead, reaching the Bracco pass, already facing the Ligurian sea. And here we stop again, from the time being.
Caucaso, Ramaceto and Zatta are the three so strongly characterising mountains of these valleys. They have some similar traits: mildly sloping and forested north sides and abrupt and barren south slopes.
Mount Caucaso tried to do, without fully suceeding, what Ramaceto and Zatta fully achieved: to form two almost perfectly ellyptical valleys on their south faces, closed by imposing sandstone rock horizontal layers at their heads; again two almost “twin mountains”, for their shape and structure. It is possible to easily reach all these three mountains walking through their north slope forests. Barbagelata already overlooks the Aveto valley; it is one of the mountain villages that you would not expect thinking about the maritime Liguria region; from there you can reach mount Caucaso. You can reach mount Ramaceto from the village of Ventarola. Or reach mount Zatta from the Bocco pass or, if you prefer, from some of the upper Vara valley villages. You can also walk the main ridge, all the way to mount Aiona, and then down, through the Paratomollo bogs, until reching the Bocco pass, as already illustrated in the Aveto vally mountains chapter. Besides, you can also go up to mount Aiona from here, or from other places in the uppwer Strla valley, from the Giacopiane lake side.
But, it is climbing from the south ridges, going round the valleys of strams Moconesi, Cicana or Reppia, that you can fully enjoy the peculiarities of these mountains, where you go up from the Mediterranean vegetation layer to beech forests; and you can enjoy the impressive views of the south round valleys, and then of the sea.
These are somewhat long and demanding ascents, but you cannt say that this is not worth the effort ! Without forgetting the opportunity of wandering around through the small villages nested in these valleys.
Then you have the side chain that from mount Zatta goes down to the Braccco pass. In fact, from mount Zatta, the main Apennine ridge heads east, with lower height cliffs. We, on the contrary go south, and we immediately find something new: the limestone mass of mount Chiappozzo, at which foot lies a true karst plain; a rarity in this areas: to find something simliar again, we must go south until the mountains of the Marche region ! if we go ahead, after crossing the Biscia pass, we can climb up to the jasper rocks of mount Verruga, then to the volcanic rock tops from mount Porcile to Alpe di Maissana, classic balconies overlooking the sea of Sestri Levante. From here we already watch over the Vara river valley, and this is a different chapter.