The Via Julia Augusta

The Via Julia Augusta, built in 13 BC, came out of the Porta d'Arroscia, the southern gate of the Roman city and headed towards the mountain, where it climbed, according to a partially preserved path, up to the summit and from here, flat, halfway up, it proceeded towards today's Alassio. Along the way, according to the custom of the time, funerary monuments were sometimes very imposing. Only the route of the Roman road has been reduced, mostly to a poor path in beaten earth, with noteworthy remains of some monuments. A walk along the ancient road is fascinating due to the extraordinary views that the route offers, while it winds through the Mediterranean scrub and the background of the sea in the company of the superb vision of the Gallinara island.
The visit of the Via can be limited up to the last Roman monument, or it can continue up to the promontory overlooking Alassio, where the Romanesque church of Santa Croce is located. In the first case, on foot, at least two hours are used for the outward and return journey, in the second three to four hours.

The route of the Via Julia Augusta

Departure from Piazza del Popolo, cross the bridge over the river, make a short detour to see, in the bed of the Centa, the remains of the early Christian church of San Clemente, built above the base of the Roman baths. Proceed towards the mountain and take the provincial road for San Fedele on the right: ten, twenty meters and go up along the paved road that leads to the left on the mountain. A few steps and then, indicated by a sign, the detour to reach the Pilone and the amphitheater. Go up a few hundred meters and first meet the Pilone, the name given by the Albenganese to the funeral monument visible from the city (when there were fewer buildings), in the past considered a lighthouse of the ancient port that opened at the foot of the Mount. Higher up you reach a plateau from which you can enjoy a splendid panorama. According to some scholars, the oppidum of the ancient Ligurian Ingauni was located here. On the right, the remains of the amphitheater can be seen behind a wire mesh. There are only ground structures just emerging from the ground, there are no raised parts.

We pass, successively, next to the remains of the Church and of the Abbey of San Martino, now transformed into a private villa. And finally we find ourselves in the plane. After about fifty meters begins the series of archaeological remains of funeral monuments named with letters of the alphabet in reverse order for those coming from Albenga: G, F, E, D, H, L, C, B, A. The monument G it is located downstream of the path, the others upstream. Alongside all the monuments, explanatory signs have been placed with a reconstruction of the original appearance. Particularly interesting is the monument F which has an interior rebuilt and covered in later periods. After passing the last monument, past a small stream, the only part of the Roman road perfectly preserved and still visible appears. It is three and a half meters wide, has the typical paving of Roman roads, two sidewalks on the sides, and upstream a protective wall.

Those who wish can continue the walk, which offers stunning views, such as the Russian villa overlooking the sea. Along the way, we come to the 10th century church of Santa Maria dei Monti to arrive at the Arch which in the Middle Ages marked the boundary between Albenga and Alassio and finally the Romanesque church of Santa Croce.

On the way back, having reached the G monument, you can take the stairs leading down to the Vadino neighborhood below and pay a visit to the Church and the convent of San Bernardino dei Minori Osservanti. The complex has suffered an incredible series of hardships: after confiscation in the nineteenth century it was transformed into a barracks, a prison and private homes. After a recent restoration, the church is open to worship, with interesting frescoes on a nave. The convent, which preserves some noteworthy frescoes, has recently been transformed into a school; in the cloister and in the adjacent rooms there is the command of the traffic police.