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“On the road”: Kerouac’s novel could inspire you to take part in the literary competition “Una strada per arrivare a Ponente” (A road to the Ligurian coast) organised by ERDE Ltd in collaboration with the association “Wine and Oil Road from the Alps to the Sea”. The road in question is of course not an American highway but the food and wine route at the centre of a complex project for the development of this region, sponsored by the Mountain Communities of the high Arroscia Valley, Ingauna and Pollupice. The first “Road” in Liguria devoted to traditional produce runs from Spotorno to Colle di Nava, linking the coastal area around Finale Ligure with the hinterland behind Albenga and Imperia.

“It only takes three hours to get from Spotorno to Mendatica and Colle di Nava, and it’s a way of crossing western Liguria without setting foot on the busy main road, the Via Aurelia”, say the organisers. “The Road introduces you to a hidden Liguria of beautiful countryside, local produce and cultural attractions: it’s a journey of discovery of natural and man-made landscapes, village architecture, works of art, cottage industry archaeology, the faces of the people, their customs and way of life, hospitality, food and drink…”

But what are the organisers asking of their aspiring writers (and/o photographers)? The competition is divided into two sections: one for a narrative text, and one for a “photographic journey”. The text, which must be between 20 and 40 pages long, will be “a first person account, written as a direct experience in the style of a travel book, and will contain personal reflections”. Participants in the photography section must submit between 20 and 30 photographs, which may be in colour or black and white. The winning entries (one written text and one set of photographs) will be published, as will an anthology of the other commended entries (texts and photographs). The closing date for entries is 31 March 2003.

Readers of DiscoveryAlps may be interested to know that the last stretch of the “Road”, which can end either at Mendatica or Colle di Nava, goes up to the head of a valley, the high Arroscia Valley, whose geographical and anthropological characteristics are already indisputably Alpine. The final, high-altitude kilometres of the “Wine and Oil Road from the Alps to the Sea” lead to the villages of Pornassio, Cosio d’Arroscia, Montegrosso Pian Latte and Mendatica, the country of “la cucina bianca”(“white cooking”, so-called because based on “white” ingredients like cheese, white corn meal, potatoes, bread, garlic, leeks, etc). This literary competition might be the excuse (if one were needed) for an unusual “gourmet trip” through the highlands of western Liguria.

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