Visit to the Former Military Base of Calice Ligure

The exterior of the barracks of the Former Military Base of Calice Ligure

Discovering the Ligurian Riviera

Visit to the Former Military Base of Calice Ligure

October 20, 2022

On the heights of Finale Ligure, in the picturesque setting of Melogno Hill, it is possible to visit the former U.S. military base of Calice Ligure. Now abandoned and in a decaying state, it still shows traces of American military operations in the Savona area. Just over an hour's drive from Agriturismo Le Girandole, it is therefore possible to immerse oneself in history and retrace the events that took place between the 1960s and the early 1990s. Below are all the directions for visiting the Calice Ligure NATO Base.

How to get to the former U.S. base

Driving along the highway from San Bartolomeo al Mare in the direction of Finale Ligure, exit at the Finale Ligure exit. Not far away is also Lake Osiglia, which is certainly worth a visit. To reach the military base, follow Provincial Road 490, which leads up to the Melogno Pass. At the height of the locality of Magliolo, take Provincial Road 16, continuing until the intersection with Provincial Road 23, which leads toward Madonna delle Neve. After passing the church, at the height of the windmill, take a detour that proceeds on a paved road, passing partly through the woods, arriving at the entrance to the old American base.

The American base 046 US Army

Created in 1961, the base was manned by the 59th U.S. Army Signal Company and belonging to the 509th Battalion: it was initially used as a radio base, only to be abandoned for good in 1992, when satellite technology supplanted radio communications. This was the Cold War years, when military powers were also challenging each other using intimidation strategies, boasting the best weaponry and the most advanced technologies, all under the threat of nuclear war.

At the same time, Project Scatter, also called Troposcatter, known in Europe as ACE-High, was being developed to control airspace.

The U.S. base at Calice Ligure was thus part of an important network of military bases from which medium- and long-range microwave radio transmissions to Europe took place, as well as high-frequency transmissions with other continents.

In particular, the military base was part of a network of about 40 military stations in Europe, helped monitor airspace in the Savona area, and was in continuous communication with military post bases in Germany.

  • the radio room;

  • a workshop, inside which are the generators with mechanical and electrical rooms;

  • a water tank with adjoining purification and filtration rooms;

  • the main barracks, on the ground floor of which are the common rooms and on the second floor are the dormitories, which can be reached either from inside or by an outside staircase.

The corridor leading to the dormitories of the former U.S. military base at Calice Ligure

There is also a guardhouse at the entrance to the facility, and outside the enclosure, of which very little remains today, is a building with a technical room. Inside the military base, an estimated 20 or so American soldiers lived.

It was no coincidence that the NATO military base was built in this area: it is in fact located in a strategic position from which, on clear days, it is possible to admire the entire coastline and the valley below.

The guardhouse of the former military base of Calice Ligure as seen from the entrance

The former NATO base in Calice Ligure is a now decaying building that is both fascinating and disturbing. Barbed wire fencing protects the building with no running water or electricity. On the walls both outside and inside amazing murals by local street artists.

A short film inside the now abandoned former military base

Numerous stories and legends hover around this structure: trucks disappearing down mountain roads, helicopters landing in the dark of night, hidden missile launch platforms, and secret tunnels hundreds of meters long.

The southern entrance to the former U.S. military base in Calice Ligure

A singular structure, in short, a destination for many curious people and hikers, now located within a wind farm and along a MTB trail. In the past it was also used to hold rave parties.

After several recovery projects that were never started, the military base was finally abandoned to its fate.


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