Canate di Marsiglia is a small village in the municipality of Davagna, founded around the 12th century.
It is called a ghost village because, with the advent of motorisation in the 1950s, it suffered a progressive depopulation of its inhabitants until it became completely uninhabited.
Due to its location, in fact, it was not possible to build a driveway connecting it to the nearest village.
The village of Canate is an extraordinary testimony to the rural culture of the Ligurian hinterland of the past, where one can still admire the houses, the dry-stone walls and some rural objects.
It is, to all intents and purposes, an open-air museum.
We have been to the abandoned village of Canate di Marsiglia and in this article you can find all the information on how to get there, a description of the trek and also a short video that we hope will intrigue you.
Trekking to the abandoned village of Canate di Marsiglia: itineraries
Canate di Marsiglia can only be reached on foot.
There are three routes to get to the hamlet and they are all quite strenuous.
- From San Martino di Struppa (2h, 580 m difference in altitude).
- From the Cavassolo bridge with the 1,000 steps (1h; according to information found on the Internet, the path is badly maintained).
- From Marsiglia (1h, 440 m of altitude difference).
We decided to start from Marsiglia.
How to get to Marsiglia
To get to Marsiglia, from the Genova Est motorway exit, take the SS45 road to Torriglia.
Pass through the Prato tunnel and, once in Cavassolo , take the diversions on the left towards Davagna.
Continue for a few bends and, when the road forks, keep left.
You pass Calvari, arriving at the village of Marsiglia in about 50 minutes total from the start (15 minutes from Cavassolo).
You can park either shortly after the village church or at the end of the village.
If you go during the Christmas period, we recommend parking beforehand and walking through the village to admire the cribs set up outside the houses.
The abandoned village of Canate di Marsiglia: GPS track
We leave the GPS track of the route because the signposts are not very numerous and, in some places, you may lose sight of the path.
Departure altitude – Marsiglia 553 metres
Arrival altitude – Canate di Marsiglia 544 mt.
Height difference – 440 mt.
Time required – 1h outward and 1h return.
Description of the itinerary
Take the steps on the right, at a memorial plaque, just beyond the end of the village of Marsiglia.
After a very short uphill stretch, the path proceeds downhill in hairpin bends in the forest and leads, in about half an hour, to the wooden bridge crossing the Canate stream.
As of today (December 2023), the bridge is somewhat outdated but passable without any problems.
Before crossing it, however, check its state of preservation.
This first section of the hike is in dense woodland and therefore very damp.
After crossing the bridge, take the uphill path that, again in about half an hour, leads to the abandoned hamlet of Canate di Marsiglia.
This stretch is exposed to the sun so it is very hot, especially if you go in the summer.
Be careful on the last part of the hike because some houses have collapsed and stones have invaded the path.
Canate di Marsiglia today
Canate di Marsiglia was, in the past, a thriving village where most of its livelihood came from agricultural and pastoral production.
Even today, one can admire the terraces on which vines were cultivated.
Grape vats and demijohns, evidence of rural life, can also be seen.
The dilapidated barn and manger also suggest the presence of a cattle farm in the past.
Some buildings no longer have roofs and are overgrown with creepers, while others are in good condition.
Venture through the narrow alleys leading to the houses and take a peek inside.
You will notice that some of the buildings retain their furnishings and, in particular, there is one building left open where you can admire work tools and other implements from the past.
The furniture is made of wood and was made on site.
This suggests that those who inhabited the hamlet were gifted with an amazing manual skill.
Today, Canate di Marsiglia is no longer completely abandoned because in a small building in the hamlet, Francesco, a young man in search of tranquillity and a return to country life, has been living there for more than 10 years.
It may be useful to know that there is a fountain in the hamlet where it is possible to stock up on drinking water.
Trekking in Canate di Marsiglia with children
Trekking in Canate di Marsiglia is only feasible with children if they are trained and accustomed to hiking in the mountains.
However, the route is not, in our opinion, particularly recommended for a child because of the descents and ascents.
If the child is small, it will have to be held by the hand on the descent into the forest because the path is very wet and somewhat slippery.
The same in the final section of the hike because the path narrows quite a bit.
The walking time to the abandoned hamlet of Canate di Marsiglia with children is at least an hour longer than the total.
When to go
The excursion to Canate di Marsiglia can be undertaken all year round.
As it runs inside the forest for half the itinerary and in full sun for the other half, it goes without saying that you may ‘suffer’ a little cold in the shady section and vice versa warmth in the sunny section.
Along the route, you will pass through numerous wild chestnut groves, so if you go in autumn, you will be able to pick plenty of chestnuts (small ones, though).