Riomaggiore. This is the eastern most town of the Cinque Terre
As is sometimes the case when you travel, our well thought out plans for the day got shot to hell.
The Cinque Terre, a pretty string of five small towns on the Italian Riviera with a walking path linking all towns, has been on my list of “things to do” for a while. We set out from where we are staying in Camogli (an hour train ride to the NW) in the morning, with plans to start the walk in Riomaggiore, the eastern most town, and walk the two easiest portions of the trail through Manarola and Corniglia, then take a train or ferry to the other towns, avoiding the longer and more strenuous walks.
The clouds hang low over Manarola as seen from the ferry as we sailed past
When we arrived in Riomaggiore, we discovered (along with many other tourists) that the two eastern most trails were closed due to landslides. So we had to modify our plans. A sign in the information office also warned of a 24 hour train strike beginning at 9 pm that evening.
The landslide blocking a portion of The Cinque Terre trail, as seen from the ferry
With the rest of the disappointed tourists, we made our way to the Riomaggiore port and purchased tickets on the ferry. We would sail past Manarola and Corniglia, and be dropped off in Vernazza. The day was overcast and warm, with the clouds hanging low in the mountains above the villages. The ferry ride was pleasant and the town of Vernazza was pretty as we walked off the ferry. It was crowded too, with tourists taking in the sights and locals gathering for a swimming competition in the harbor.
We pressed our way through the throngs of tourists and walked up and down the small town, looking into shop windows. Lunch in the harbor people-watching had us entertained until about 1 pm, with the sun breaking through as the clouds burned off.
Me on the main street of Vernazza
Cinque Terre olive oil for sale in a shop in Vernazza
After lunch and now fueled with pasta we started the hike, beginning in Vernazza and walking eastbound. This portion of the trail, from Vernazza to Corniglia, is 3.450 km and mostly ups and downs. There were very few flat stretches as we were to find out. It was like being on a stair machine for 1 1/2 hours, and this trail wasn’t even the most demanding. We had read that the western most trail from Monterosso to Vernazza was the most difficult.
My friend Teresa overlooking Vernazza, in the early part of the hike
We started out with enthusiasm. The town of Vernazza fell away as we climbed the stone steps on the edge of town, which turned into a trail. Our enthusiasm slowly waned as the sun came out, the humidity rose and the climb got steeper. It was only just over 2 miles and we had some great views, but it did feel like a workout. We ended in Corniglia with a gelato, having completed only one of the four segments. The following photos are from the stretch of the trail that we hiked, in sequence from west to east.
Augie on the trail just after leaving Vernazza
Me and Teresa on one of the few flat portions of the trail,
A short flat segment
Augie taking a breather, with our destination of Corniglia in the background.
The trail wound through some groves of olive trees towards the end near Corniglia.
Looking west back from where we came from.
A map of the trail coming into Corniglia
Walking through vineyards as we came into Corniglia
The church in Corniglia, at the end of the portion of trail we hiked.
Corniglia church interior
When we reached Corniglia, we stopped to catch our breath in the courtyard of the church. We also stood in line at the most popular shop in town (for gelato) and enjoyed a well earned treat. Corniglia is perched on a cliff 500 feet above the Ligurian Sea, affording spectacular views.
Looking east from Corniglia
My friend and travel companion Augie also blogs and wrote a more entertaining review of our hike. Here is a link to his site: