Pizza, pasta and wine – planning a holiday to Italy and these are the first things on your mind surely? But this warm-blooded country, where mamma’s home-cooking, motorway chaos and gelatos reign supreme, has tons more to offer –just think about those breathtaking trails that lead you right down towards the Med.

Willkommen im italienischen Frühling!
Benvenuti to spring in Italy!
Der Blick den Strand entlang – überall blauer Himmel.
The view along the beach and the endless blue skies.
Ob es hier schon nach Sonnenbrand roch?!
Ouch, can you smell the sunburn yet?
Jeder trägt ein fröhliches Grinsen auf dem Gesicht, wie soll es auch anders sein bei dem Wetter.
Given this amazing weather it’s not surprising we can’t stop grinning.

You’ve either heard about it or you’ve been here; there’s no escaping this lovely, little Italian village. On the Ligurian coast almost exactly halfway between Genoa and the border with France lies the biking mecca of Finale. Not far from the town of Savona, the ancient village of Finalborgo invites riders for some Mediterranean sunshine, stunning scenery and tasteful promenading like all true Italians. But aside from the history and the tasty food, it’s the words ‘rollercoaster’, ‘Nato base,’ and ‘DH Men’ that unites mountain bikers with this area. Exactly, we’re talking about one of those winter-sun-blessed paradises, a place of escape for when the filthy cold winter at home gets too much.


Diese Gegend weckt einfach in jedem das Kind – Attraktionen, wohin man auch schaut und auch abseits vom Biken.
Somewhere that brings out the kid in you once again – the usual distractions from riding.
Zunächst muss man sich aber mit seiner Umgebung vertraut machen.
Firstly, you need to acquaint yourself with the local area.
Der Blick vom Balkon – einfach herrlich!
The view from the balcony – dream!
Der Strand von Finale bei Nacht.
Finale’s beach at nighttime.

The Harz had yet more snowfall at the end of March, which meant the start of the season was once again postponed. Peak fitness wasn’t quite reached either and the bike had new parts that needed to be ridden in… This wasn’t how it was supposed to be! As guides from the Trailtech mountain biking skills school, we picked ‘any old’ Italian village for a bit of much-needed pre-season training and the obligatory 22°C vitamin D boost.

Finalborgo mit seinen alten Gemäuern in der Dunkelheit.
Finalborgo and its ancient walls as dusk fell.
Die Schönheit von alten Gassen: Finalborgo.
The beauty within the ancient alleyways in Finalborgo.
Johannes ist von der Größe des kleines Dorfes (Finalborgo) angetan
Johannes is pretty amazed by the sheer size of the little village of Finalborgo.
Shopping-Day in Finale Ligure. Gesucht: leckere Geschenke für die Daheimgebliebenen.
Shopping day in Finale Ligure. Wanted: edible goodies for those who have stayed at home.

We left the wintery north behind in favour of the sunny south, and after an exhausting night in the car, fitfully sleeping in our two VW vans, it was now time for layers off, sunnies on! Even before we checked-in to our lodgings for the week, some of us were already a touch sunburnt. The schedule for the next few days included shuttles, rides and filming. But naturally, we wanted our share of ‘la dolce vita’ too. So while we’d thrash along the trails during the daytimes, the evenings were reserved for exploring the region’s culinary offerings.

Eingelegtes oder Frisches?!
Preserved or fresh?
Oder doch eine Flasche ligurisches Olivenöl?
Or maybe a bottle of delicious Ligurian olive oil?
Wir Nordlichter konnten gar nicht genug von den Meeresfrüchten kriegen.
Us northerners couldn’t get enough of the seafood.
Hier lebt es sich bestimmt ziemlich stachelig auf dem Balkon.
Pretty prickly on this balcony.

During the first few days we devoted our time to improving our descending skills. Thanks to Finale Freeride, the exhausting climbs up to Nato base were abandoned in favour of a comfortable ride up in an old Ford Transit with bike rack. The old vehicle groaned under the weight of 10 riders and equipment, with its growling and smoking indicative of its displeasure. It didn’t fail us during the trip though and by the end of the first day we’d already clocked countless kilometres of riding, and we fell promptly into bed after dinner.

Markus gibt alles auf den technischen Trails direkt oberhalb von Finale Ligure.
Markus giving his all on the technical trails above Finale Ligure.
Entspannung am Abend auf der Piazza von Finale Ligure, da gibt es ausnahmsweise auch mal Alkohol.
Relaxing on the piazza in Finale Ligure with a rare alcoholic beverage.
Unsere Küchenfee Markus zaubert ein leckeres Mahl zum Mittag, wenn wir gerade einmal nicht auswärts essen sind.
Kitchen-whizz Markus whips up a tasty meal as we decide not to dine out for once.
Caprese, in Öl angebrotenes Brot und dazu ein leckeres Tomatensüppchen – was will man mehr?
Caprese, bread toasted in oil and a delicious tomato soup – what more could you ask for?

The fun with the Ford had to end one day, and after three days with the motorized shuttle, we were then faced with mere leg power to get us up the climbs. Whether it was the ride to the Osteria del Din, located below the Colle del Melogno, or the evening ride towards San Bernadino – it didn’t matter. Getting fit for our upcoming tours and skills courses in the Harz was our objective, so we cranked our way up the surrounding hillsides time after time. By the end of the week we’d recorded a pretty significant amount of altitude metres – both up and down!

Der Sonnenaufgang macht Mut für den Tag. Keine Wolke am Himmel, also ab auf die Trails!
Sunrise inspired us for the day ahead. No clouds on the horizon, so off to the trails!
„Wo fahren wir lang?” - Trailtech Team-Besprechung vor dem Start des Film-Shootings
“Where shall we ride then?” – Trailtech team discussion before filming began.
Maximaler Speed: Guide Hannes zieht an der Kamera vorbei.
Maximum speed: Guide Hannes flies by the camera.
Johannes gibt am Ende des Tages nochmal alles.
Johannes gives everything at the end of the day.

Thanks to ION we received our team kit for the season ahead of our departure for Italy, so this was a chance for some self-promotion. We spent one day filming, and captured some incredible shots. Thanks to Daniel and his VW van, there was no undue exertion to reach mountain peaks and filming spots, meaning a more relaxed approach to the sessions. Armed with a fair amount of equipment on our backs, we made our way down the trails, first riding sections, then checking them out before pushing back up. A continuous rhythm for the day that has resulted in the Finale Flow video (you’ll find it at the end of the article), in which the Trailtech guides find their flow on the dust-ridden and technical trails of Finale Ligure.

Auch Posen muss ab und zu mal drin sein – Guide Markus brauch eigentlich nur sein Vorderrad!
You can’t avoid a bit of posing – Guide Markus really only needs his front wheel!
„Die drei von der Tankstelle” nach einem kräftezehrenden Drehtag.
“The three from the petrol station” after an exhausting day filming.
Johannes präsentiert sein neues NICOLAI ION 16, sowie die diesjährige Trailtech-Teambekleidung von ION
Johannes presents his new NICOLAI ION 16, as well as this year’s Trailtech team kit from ION.
Nur weil man Kameramann ist, heißt es nicht, dass man keinen Spaß haben darf.
Just because you’re the cameraman doesn’t mean you can’t have fun!

The day of filming eventually ended on a high with a stunning sunset high above the Nato base, before we reconvened for dinner in Finalborgo. Over pizza, seafood and some amazing wine, we reflected on the past week, and unanimously reached one conclusion: we’ll be back!

Guide Markus droppt auf dem Männer-Downhill oberhalb von Varigotti.
Guide Markus drops off the DH Mens above Varigotti.
So eine Szenerie ist im Harz wohl kaum zu finden – einfach herrlich!
Such scenery doesn’t exist in the Harz – simply incredible!


Words & Photos: Sven Frank

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.