Via del Sale is a military road through the Ligurian Alps

Via del Sale, also known as Route du Marguareis, Piste de l'Amitié, and Ligurische Grenzkammstrasse, is a legendary 4x4 road nestled in the heart of the Ligurian Alps in the northern part of Italy.

Via del Sale

Where is Via del Sale road?

The old military road is located in the Cuneo province, in the southwest of the Piedmont region, in the northern part of Italy, near the French border.

How long is Via del Sale road?

The road is 30 km (18.64 miles) long, running from Limone Piemonte to Monesi di Triora.

Is Via del Sale road open?

Set high in the heart of the Ligurian Alps, the trail links the Piedmontese and French Alps to the Ligurian Sea. This route is closed to traffic during the winter months (October to March) because of the snow, but it can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. In summer, being one of the best-known and most popular routes of the western Alps, it’s necessary to pay close attention to the transit of mountain biking and horseback riding.

When was Via del Sale road built?

This is a Ligurian track built in the Middle Ages to transport salt from Ventimiglia to Limone Piemonte and from there to Turin. Among the many roads that connected ancient Liguria and Piedmont to France, this is one of the most famous and popular. As a result, the road has been enlarged, and many sections were magnified and transformed into military roads to connect the numerous forts located along the border between Italy and France. Before the Second World War, the Regiment had the task of maintaining the road in the best conditions. Today, it is a wonderful dirt road that runs along the ridges of the Maritime Alps on the border between Italy and France, in a wild landscape with stunning views of the sea and the mountains.

Is Via del Sale road difficult?

The road is totally unpaved. This scenario is particularly challenging at the hairpin turns along the steep climbs because the engines of cars are being really forced throughout the path. It is a path that can be defined as first-class in every aspect. Caution is always needed. You’ll need to move with extreme caution to minimize the risk, and before many steps, you will need to get out of the car and walk to inspect the road. In fact, the difficulties in terms of off-road driving are significant and require (in addition to consolidated experience) a good knowledge of driving skills and, above all, extreme and constant attention because of the dizzying cliffs that open on either side of the track along the route.

The road climbs up several mountain passes, including:
Passo della Guardia 1.508m (4,947 ft)
Passo di Collardente/Pas de Colle Ardente  1.617m (5,305 ft)
Colle di Perla 2.215m (7,267 ft)
Colle de Carsene 2.221m (7,286 ft)
Colle Malaberghe/Col de Malabergue 2.225m (7,299 ft)
Passo di Tanarello/Pas du Tanarel  2.042m (6,699ft)
Col de la Boaire/Colle della Boaria 2.102m (6,896ft)
Col de Seigneurs/Colle del Lago dei Signori 2.130m (6,988ft)
Colle del Garezzo 1.795m (5,889ft)

How long does it take to drive Via del Sale?

Even if you are an experienced driver, the whole distance takes at least 2 hours even if you try to rush through. Better calculate half a day or even more. 2019 Update: For a long time, this road was not maintained and became very famous for adventure drivers. This has changed. The road is now partly maintained but still a rough gravel road you should not underestimate. Do not try to drive it if your vehicle is not off-road capable with enough ground clearance and if you are not really sure that you are able to handle all challenges. If you have a problem: No one will be able to help you. Now you have to book a fee in advance if you want to drive on this road. The fee is 15 EUR, and the number of permits per day is limited. More information here:
Road suggested by: Michael Spannlang
More pics here